Thanks for tuning in to the Sunday Brunch Series! For episode 16, I am beyond honored to feature Patricia A. Jackson of Angry Robot books!
Her debut novel Forging A Nightmare came out on November 23rd, and it is an amazing mix of urban fantasy, biblical mythology, and horse-crazy that only a true horse lover could write.
I am thrilled to join the book tour with this interview! Read on to learn about the publishing journey, her tips for BiPoc authors, authentic voices, and so much more. If you follow the link at the bottom and check out the author website – there is, if you can find it, a Star Wars costume on horse back 😂 also her book trailer had me cracking up so definitely check it out if you have time.
Let me get out of her way – here she is!
🖤Welcome to the SBS! Can you tell us an interesting thing about yourself that isn’t in the author bio?
🎤I’m an otaku! I love Japanese anime, but I’m very particular about the series i binge. Among my favorites are Psycho Pass, Kaze No Stigma, and Demon Slayer. I facilitate the Anime Club at the school where I teach.
🖤I’m so floored since you are one of the first traditionally published authors on the interview series, can you chat a bit about your publishing journey?
🎤I wrote my first little novel after seeing Star Wars in 1977. I was eight years old. I continued writing to appease an overactive imagination that was not satisfied with just reading about other worlds. In 1993, I met the editor of The Star Wars Adventure Journal. That opened the door for me to write stories in the universe that gave birth to my inspiration. Thanks to a dare from a student, I discovered Wattpad and entered the first ever Online Novella Contest. My 20,000 word entry – Feast or Famine – won second place. That novella would eventually become Forging a Nightmare.
My agent Sara Megibow (KT Literary) rejected the novel, but said her door was always open to me. I wasn’t ready to give up on the novel, so I kept working on finding it a home. It was rejected eighty-eight times. A year later, I went to a class on how to write effective query letters with Sara. Like the other folks, I emailed my query to her for a tune -up, but I didn’t bother attaching the manuscript. She contacted me about it and asked to see it. Sara made some suggestions in the first chapter. I complied, thinking her advice would surely help me land the next agent. I had no idea, she would be that agent. During a phone call, she made the offer to represent me. You know that Michelangelo painting The Creation of Adam—yeah, that’s how I felt and how I still feel. She’s amazing!
🖤 What advice do you have for other bipoc and under represented voices that may want to write a book or tell a story?
🎤Be true to your identity before embarking on this journey. Define yourself and do not let the taint of society define you because any fallacies will bleed into your story and readers will sense it. Do not be worried when people outside of your culture cannot fathom why your characters do not react the way people in other cultures do. You don’t have to spend your time or word count explaining that to someone who can never truly understand your struggle. Look at those things that have been illicitly claimed and appropriated and have no fear in taking it back and remaking it in your image.
🖤 Did you have prior interest in old testament stories and Christian mythology ((I questioned my word choice here)) and old languages, or did the research came with the novel?
🎤I think the term mythology is perfectly fine because that’s what it is: myth. No different than the Greek, Roman, or Egyptian renditions. People often confuse faith and religion. Faith is one’s belief in something greater than themselves, which may not necessarily be a god. Religion is how you practice that faith. I have always been interested in religion and the connection to faith. I grew up with a father, who was a mason, and a mother, who was Baptist, while attending Catholic schools. I am keenly interested in the religions of other people from witchcraft to druids, including the ancient Aztecs, Greeks, and Romans because I am fascinated by the vast cultural and practical differences.
🖤Can you tell us about your own night-mares? I have two red mares and you really nailed the mare behavior in the novel 😂
🎤I have had a love affair with Thoroughbreds since I was a kid, particularly the ones off the track. I enjoyed rescuing them from the racing life and give them a second careers as fox hunters, show hunters, and dressage horses. One of my Nightmares is named Indy. He’s actually a great-grandson of Secretariat. He is the winningest horse I have ever owned with many championship ribbons to his credit. And that’s saying a lot because he is rather opinionated.
As I have gotten older, my knees are deteriorating. I actually need replacements. So I decide to try a Warmblood. Maya is a Canadian Warmblood and she is what you call a stick and kick ride. Moving too fast consumes too many calories. Her favorite speeds are slow and stop—which is perfect. I bought her because she didn’t act at all like a mare! She is so rock solid! No mood swings. No opinions. (Unless the poor thing is suffering ulcers-whole different world then.) But I think looking forward, I’m going back to geldings.
🖤Other than Kristen Britain and Maggie Stiefvater, I guess Mindee Arnett too but she didn’t emphasize the horses in her books as much, and Tamora Pierce, I haven’t seen a lot of horse-crazy authors in SFF! Do you have any that you love and recommend?
🎤When it comes to current fare in the SFF genre, I don’t think anyone handles it as well as Susan Dexter. She has done the best job in bringing a horse into character and bringing out the character in a horse in her Warhorse of Esdragon series. I have always wanted a horse character to feature as prominently as any other primary or secondary character, so when I could not find that, I wrote one. My favorite novel is True Knight.
🖤What would you tell one of your high school students who wanted to read your book??
🎤I’m actually quite lucky because the very first beta readers for FORGING A NIGHTMARE were high school kids. I developed the novel in a mind-mapping assignment for my first Creative Writing class. Kids have been a part of the journey every turn of the page. I told them to look for the things I’m always looking for In their work: pacing, character development, and holes, places where the muse went off the track.
🖤Since the holidays are coming, which do you think is your main character’s favorite holiday?
🎤It might seem anti-climatic, but when Michael Childs is not working his day job, he plays the role of a knight in shining armor and jousts. So his favorite holiday would be Halloween.
🖤Are you a fan of brunch? Any favorites?
🎤I am a fan of BREAKFAST at ANY time! My favorite is scrambled eggs with white toast, sausage patties and grits with a side order of home fries (no onion) and orange juice.
🖤Here is the easy rapid-fire round of bookish questions: favorite author? A book or series that you always recommend? Favorite literary character?
🎤Fave author: Kristin Britain
Recommended Book: True Knight by Susan Dexter
Favorite Literary Character: I’m gong to be a complete and utter fangirl when I say Tolkien’s Aragorn, which is why I love ranger characters in Dungeons and Dragons
🖤Thank you so much again for taking the time to interview! If you want to add anything else please do so here!!
🎤I was recently involved in a dispute over banning books in the district where I work. Thanks to a few brave young women, the Panther Anti-Racist Union and their protests, the ban was temporarily lifted. These were beautiful books (many children’s books) by and about BIPOC and LGBTQ+ people. Literature, like history, is not always for the faint of heart. But what offends one, may uplift another, thus no one has the right to decide what belongs in a library and what should be burned. Banning books is never a good idea. I’d like to add that diversity and representation matter. We need more books, more stories, where people can see themselves in the struggle as the heroes, champions, vagabond anti-heroes, and not just in the ensemble cast or as sidekicks.
You can find more info, author and purchase links on the link tree!