Enter a wondrous universe…the latest volume of Sword and Sorceress, featuring stories from new and seasoned authors. Herein you will find tales of fantasy with strong female characters, with some version of either martial skill or magic. Not all the protagonists will be human, and sometimes the magic will take highly original forms, but the emotional satisfaction in each story and in the anthology as a whole, remains true to the original vision. The release date will be November 2, 2018.
Deborah J. Ross: Tell us a little about yourself. How did you come to be a writer?
Jessie Eaker: When I was in elementary school, I would painstakingly write out my thoughts and stories, along with accompanying illustrations, and keep them in a special binder which I fantasized about publishing. I loved making up stories about rockets, robots and dragons. (I didn't much care for unicorns--they were too hard to draw.) When I hit middle school and on into high school, I entered what I now consider my great input phase--I read everything I could get my hands on. And out of that I began to craft my first stories. But as fate would have it, one of my high school English teachers gave a very harsh criticism of one of my works. I was devastated--my fantasy of being published evaporating in a moment. But then I got angry. My story couldn't be that bad. I resolved right then and there that I was going to prove to that I could be a published author. Of course, it took me another fifteen years to actually develop enough to pull it off.
DJR: What inspired your story in Sword and Sorceress 33?
JE: "All In a Name" was inspired by my youngest daughter's pregnancy and their search for a suitable name for the baby.While they offered us hints as to what it might be, she and her husband had decided they would keep the name secret until the baby was born. It nearly drove us crazy not knowing and we feared it would be some off-the-wall name that would permanently scar the child.
During this time I pondered the power in a name. I had dealt with this idea before in a prior story, "Name of the Demoness" in Sword and Sorceress #6. But thinking of the coming child, I came up with a new direction to take this idea.
And by the way, the name they chose for my newest granddaughter was perfectly lovely.
DJR: Why do you write what you do, and how does your work differ from others in your genre?
JE: I love fantasy and science fiction. From my first comic books as a kid, I was fascinated with all things outside our present-time reality. So naturally, I write primarily in those genres. Early on I became intrigued with the differences between straight up fantasy and technology based fiction. While we tend to treat them differently, I believe that they are one in the same. So when I can, I like to take science fiction elements and mix them with my fantasies. Admittedly, some stories allow this more than others.
Also, I absolutely love strong women characters. I try to make every female character in my stories have a depth to them that the reader can appreciate.
DJR: What have you written recently? What lies ahead?
JE: What I like to write has evolved over time. In my younger days, I tended to write "serious" works and strove to turn out text that would be leave the reader awestruck. But I found trying to be the next great author quickly lost its luster and it became harder and harder to produce anything I truly liked. My busy life offered the perfect excuse and so I put aside my writing for several years.
Then as I was cleaning up, I ran across one of those stories that I had drafted but never finished. It was a lighter fare, a fantasy adventure, which I had cast aside as not being "serious" enough. That was when I said, to hell with it and took it back up. And you know what? I had a blast. I rediscovered the absolute joy in writing. That one story grew and morphed into two novels with at least two more coming.
I would say my writing now is more fun and more confident. While I think my writing voice was good before, it is definitely better now.
DJR: What advice would you give an aspiring writer?
JE: I think there are three basic things an aspiring writer should do. The first is to doggedly write every day whether you feel like it or not. All writers give this advice, but it's really true. The second thing is a variation of the "write what you know" saying. I would say instead to write what you like. This of course, assumes you are knowledgeable of the area you like. And if you aren't, you might want to fix that first. Thirdly, and this is the most important, keep a notepad beside your bed to capture your ideas. Like all mystical things, truly good ideas are rare and fleeting. So you must be ready for when they arise.