Jacci Turner Interview
Date: May 15, 2016
Jacci, welcome back.
A quick introduction: You have 10 books on Amazon, including 2 series; you are the Director of Education for High Sierra Writers; you’re an Amazon bestselling author of young adult and middle grade fiction and your book, Bending Willow, was selected to represent Nevada at the 2013 National Book Festival in Washington D.C. Now, your YA book, Cracker, just received a Red Ribbon Award from The Wishing Shelf Book Awards. Have I missed anything?
Answer: Haha! Nope, that about covers it, Dennis.
Tell us about the Red Ribbon Award? What is it?
Answer: The Wishing Shelf Award is kinda cool because it was started by an author, Billy Bob Buttons. He is from the UK and does a lot of work with school kids. So, he gets 16 kids to read each entry and rate the books. Even if you don’t win, you still get the feedback, which, to an author is gold.
How did all that come about? How did you find yourself as an author?
Answer: I think of myself more as a story teller. When I was five I used to charge the neighborhood kids a nickel to come watch my plays. I was in theater in high-school and even have a degree in theater! But, if you’ve ever done a play, you’ll know that they take a LOT of time to prepare and as life got busier, I just couldn’t commit to the rehearsal schedules. So, I thought what can I do that’s creative but doesn’t take all my time? I have always enjoyed writing. I have a book and a screen play that will never see the light of day. But it wasn’t until I turned fifty that I had the discipline to do the necessary revisions a good book needs, so that is when I started writing for publication.
Before we dive into it, what advice would you have for a beginning author? What is the one thing that might be the most meaningful thing then could hear?
Answer: For me, the key is getting into a writer’s group where you can have the support and encouragement of other writers. That is so important. The one I’m involved with brings in monthly speakers and each month I feel like it’s the kick-in-the-pants I need to keep writing. The critique groups we are invaluable. Keep learning, let people read your work, keep growing as a writer and don’t’ give up.
Okay, you write for young adults. Tell us about the genre?
Answer: I love Young Adult, which is for ages fourteen and up. I also write for kids age eight and up, that’s called Middle Grade Fiction. I think what draws me to these age groups is that with kids, anything is possible. They still believe in magic and have incredible imaginations.
Why the YA genre? What motivates you? What inspires you?
Answer: Kids today have to face some pretty rough realities, yet I’m constantly amazed by their spirits and creative minds. I have great hope in the upcoming generations. Those two thoughts are put together for my website tagline which is, “Infusing Reality with Hope.” I want to write about the real challenges of this world, but from a hopeful place, not a dark place.
I read your latest book, Cracker. It has an intense message. What inspired you to write that story?
Answer: My hope is that Cracker will encourage people to have a conversation about race. It is a topic that people are afraid to talk about because it sometimes feels like walking on egg shells, like you might say the wrong thing. Cracker turns the conversation upside down. The white people in the book are an oppressed minority, the black people have power and privilege. This causes white people to experience, through the main character, the micro-aggressions and injustices that people of color face every day. It comes with a study guide to help further the discussion. I think being able to talk about race is the first step in learning to heal the racial divide in our society.
From a literary standpoint, without spoiling it, how did you come up with the idea for the setting twist?
Answer: I was reading Beverly Daniel Tatum’s book, “Why are all the black kids sitting together in the cafeteria? And other conversations about race, and I thought, “This is important stuff, how can I get white people to think about it? And the idea for Cracker was born.
If we can, let’s get a little deeper into your messages. You’re dealing with some intense issues. I know in your non-author life you work with hospice and have a spiritual background. Where are you pulling these stories from?
Answer: Well, my spiritual director would say they all come from parts of me, like I’m working out my issues! I guess it’s cheap therapy. But you’re right: I do have a deep faith and I do work with people that are dying and that gives me a unique perspective. I also worked with college students for thirty years and love, love, love them. They keep my mind sharp and keep me up on – you know, technology! J
What are you working on now/next?
Answer: Speaking of technology, I’m working on a book about, “Snapchat gone wrong.” I read this article about how young girls are being objectified by boys on Snapchat as the boys are pressuring them to send pictures of their bodies. If the girls say no, the boy might post a naked picture and say it was her, but if the girl sends the picture, she is labeled a whore. It puts girls in an awful situation. In my research for this book I learned that the average teenager is sending snaps (Pictures) 200-300 times a day! It’s crazy.
Authors develop characters, including odd traits or idiosyncrasies to make them more interesting. If you were a character in a bestselling novel, what is the one thing the author might share to make your character more interesting?
Answer: Wow, that is an amazing question. Probably my stunning good looks and razor sharp wit! Just kidding. I guess I’d like to be the character that is full of surprises. People are often surprised when they know me for a while and then learn something they didn’t know, like that I got my black belt in Karate at age 43 or that I jumped from an airplane at age 52. I love adventure and that would be my odd trait, “The grandma that is full of surprises!”
Anything else you want to share?
Answer: Sure Dennis, I’d like to share that I’ve read both of your books and I’m a fan. I hope you fantasy lovers out there will rush out and buy the Kingdom of Torrence series! Thank you so much for all of your support and friendship.
Jacci, thank you for your time. Can we share your contacts?
Amazon’s Author Page
Personal Web Page