Being With Him, the first novel in my second trilogy--The Being Trilogy--is being released in mass market format. This story starts off the whole large, three part arc, and focuses on Mila and Garrick, my couple, two people who have always felt "other" and who, when meeting each other, finally feel found. There is good reason for this! I am also really happy for the novel to come out in mass market because the price is lower and the story can more easily reach an audience.
2. Do you have a favorite scene from the book that you can share with us?
I liked writing Garrick's character because his defense from feeling "other" was to develop a nice sense of sarcasm. Sarcasm usually hides anger or some other dark emotion, but it was fun to use it to humorous effect. This scene is from the very beginning and shows you, I think, some of the layers that he is going to have to peel away in order to truly connect with another person:
Garrick McClellan stood at the end of the enormous museum gallery, holding a double scotch and wishing that he were at home. Or at work. Or at a bar. Or anywhere but this party. The room smelled like boiled shrimp, bad champagne, and acrylic paint, and he had been stuck listening to the perpetually giddy Meredith Stone talk about Aruba for going on fifteen minutes. Aruba this, Aruba that. Now and then as she spoke, she put one slim tanned hand on his arm, and the very act made Garrick want to growl.
Get the hell off me, he thought, but, of course, Meredith didn’t hear his thoughts. No one did, even though he heard theirs loud and clear, 24/7, turning them off just to save his sanity. And he knew, from experience, how important sanity was, how useful it was when trying to deal with others.
“The Mirabelle simply the best resort there,” Meredith said, smiling at Garrick as she did, her teeth so bleached he wondered if she’d mind if he put on his sunglasses to block the almost blue glare.
“We must go then,” said a woman to Meredith’s right, a San Francisco socialite Garrick had been introduced to many times but whose name he always forgot. “The sun would do wonders for me this time of year.”
“There’s no where else this season,” Meredith said, but her thoughts were not on Mirabelle, the warm aqua colored water, the scuba diving, or the frothy pina coladas served up at the beach front bar. No, not a thought there. Garrick could hear Meredith’s sex channel loud and clear. Keeping her eyes averted, she was thinking about what she perceived as Garrick’s enormous bulge in his tuxedo trousers.
God, she thought, talking about in-room Jacuzzis at the same time. Get me a room alone with him. At Mirabelle or the Holiday Inn Express on Harrison. I don’t care.
Garrick pushed back his coat, smiling, wanting her to get an extra glimpse of his solid, strong, 6’2” frame, but then, with a sigh, he let the jacket fall forward. It wasn’t fair to take advantage. He’d made a pact with himself, but he smiled, knowing that it wasn’t just Meredith who had admired him in that way. But he shouldn’t be around her or any woman. Nothing good ever came of it. Nor would it ever.
“Maybe you should go back to Aruba soon,” Garrick said, moving away from Meredith and her greedy hands. He winked, giving everyone, including Meredith, the notion that he was kidding. “If you took another trip next week, I know it would do me wonders. Ladies. Gentlemen.”
He bowed slightly, pulled away from the group and strode off. If it wasn’t for the donation his company made to the museum’s fund, he wouldn’t be here at all. But he was the one person the museum requested. Garrick McClellan, top producer for the largest finance firm in the city, Calder Wilken Brodden, to present the five million dollar check to purchase additional future collections. He could see the headline in the Datebook section of the San Francisco Chronicle now. And as if to corroborate, he heard a sharp, “Mr. McClellan.”
Turning, he faced a man with a camera and then there was a click and a flash.
“Great. Thanks. Love the show,” the photographer said, striding away to find another society victim.
Garrick put his drink glass down on a small table and pushed his blonde hair back from his forehead. He leaned against a wall and shook his head. Some show. Modern art. This stuff looked like crap. Stripes and boxes and what looked like spills. Blobs of color. One painting was just blue. A blue box. Another piece was a shovel hung from the ceiling and a bucket. Both painted white. Garrick almost laughed when he listened to some woman say “It’s the negative space that makes this piece so arresting.”
Arresting, Garrick thought. Someone should arrest the artist. Get the forty thousand dollars back they paid out, too.
He picked up his glass and downed the last of his scotch. He had to make nice, as he always did. He’d learned long ago that no one wanted someone different around to make a scene, to say something weird, to act “inappropriately.” Who said what was true, who acted crazy, unless, of course, it meant that someone was an artist hanging shovels and painting buckets. But there wasn’t space, negative or otherwise, for a person who didn’t fit in.
3. Which comes first…plot or characters?
For me, plot and characters sort of come together, though I do usually come up with a one or two sentence idea. The other day, I was at an airport, and I thought of a pilot who twenty years before survived a tragic accident. And then I thought of a little girl who survived the accident, too. I thought their stories could combine. So that's plot and character at the same time.
4. Do you have a daily writing routine?
I usually sit down, tidy up the email box, and then go to it. How long I write usually depends on what I'm doing. Right now, I'm in the midst of an intense revision of my YA manuscript--agent and editor bearing down--so I write for whatever time it takes me to get 10 or so pages done a day. When I'm in the initial creative place, I lighten up on myself and only require 3 or 4 pages a day. The truth is, during those times, I'm writing in my head for the rest of the day!
I have this great photo that I'm going to send you with me and my sister sitting on the couch with my father who is reading us nursery rhymes. He was always telling us stories and reading to us--my mother as well. The two of them formed my love of literature. My mother was a librarian, and I spent a great deal of my time at the library reading.
6. When writing, do you ever get so attached to characters that you hate to stop writing their story?
No, I have to be honest and say that when I am lucky enough to wrap up a novel in a lovely arc of plot, I'm happy. I love to revisit my characters, and I do admire and appreciate many of them. But it's good to finish the story and end it as I feel that's a hard thing to do!
7. When you’re not writing, what do you do to relax?
If I am not writing, I am usually teaching--but that's not relaxing necessarily. Fun, but not relaxing. I work out every day--walking, weights, cardio of any kind--and I garden and work in the yard. My fiance and I workout together, so that keeps us motivated. We also love to go to movies and to watch HBO and Showtime series (go True Blood!).
8. Is there another genre you’re interested in writing about?
If you go to my page on scribd.com (http://www.scribd.com/search?cat=redesign&q=jessica+barksdale+inclan) you can see that I have really always dabbled in many genres. I started out as a poet, short story writer, and then novelist. I have written contemporary novels, romance, and now I'm working on a YA novel. I think it's good to have many tools in your writer toolbox. The issue is that readers expect you to write in a certain genre, but I hope that folks will give me--and any writer--a go when I try to stretch.
9. What’s coming up next for you? Give us a sneak peek.
Two fun things. One is that I've just been able to put up some kindle versions of novels. This has been a lot of work (formatting a big issue!) and fun, but you can see them all here: http://www.blogger.com/goog_1605437872
This is the opening of my manuscript Swimming Lessons. The main character is a fifteen-year-old girl, who has a father who oppresses her and her sister, controlling every aspect of their lives. Lia is a swimmer (as I was) and her father's focus in her swimming:
As she finished her flip turn, pushed off the wall, and took a breath, she knew he was there. This was what he did. He sneaked out of work and came to watch Lia and her sister Faith swim, silently slipping onto the bleachers and spying on them. Lia felt him through her wet skin, imagined his dark figure against the afternoon spring sky. He’s alone, not sitting by anyone else because there was no one else there. No one watched a stupid workout. No one should care that much.
She had his silhouette memorized, the rumpled hat, his hunched over back, his notebook on his lap. He didn’t move except to write something down on his yellow legal pad or to pull out his stop watch to time her splits, even though she’s only working out, not racing, not trying to impress anyone.
“Don’t be lazy. Work that pull down,” he would say later tonight. “Push! Push past your hip every time, Lia. That’s what makes someone great. Doing what is needed every single time without fail. Without flaw.”
Without fail, she thought, her arms, one, two, one two in the water. Without flaw.
To him, she failed at everything, and she was flawed everywhere. No stroke right. No turn perfect. No race without mistake. She missed each and every time, off by a second, off by a start or a finish. Did he think if he wrote down every detail that she would somehow figure it out? What was the magic word that will make her a daughter to be proud of?
For a minute, she worked her freestyle, focusing on each arm stroke, each pull down, each breath. But she was tired of trying. She was tired of everything. She wanted him to go away and leave her alone. She never wanted to talk about swimming ever again. Lia wanted to swim her way into a cave and never come out. She imagined an earthquake shaking the pool deck to bits and swallowing him up, nothing left but splinters.
Go, she thought. Go away. Never come back.
She breathed and held her head up a little to look at the bleachers.
He wasn’t there at all.
10. How can readers find you on the internet?
the best places are my web site: http://www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com/ and the site where I blog: http://www.redroom.com/author/jessicab-barksdale-inclan
Please click all around, and let me know what you think!
Patti, thank you for letting me chat with your readers.
Now, to enter the drawings for Jessica's books, please post away. Ask her a question or otherwise comment. I'll draw the winners and let Jessica know.
PS...this time when you post, please put your email address in the post so that it will make it easier for me. :)
I'll announce the winners Tuesday night.