Monday, October 21, 2013

Interview with Author Dawn Jacobs

Dawn Jacobs
Biloxi, MS

Welcome to Vision and Verse,  fellow teacher  Dawn Jacobs!  It's a pleasure to have you with us this morning.  I have read Bear and Mel, Friends, An Unlikely Duo and wished I would have had a set of them when I was teaching reading.  So tell us, what have you written?
I have written so much since I began as a child.  I have written over 150 different pieces, mostly poetry.  I have them compiled in chronological order because it spells out my life’s journey to a T.  One day I will be brave enough to publish an autobiography, it is aptly titled, From a Solitary Soul.
What I am most proud of is my first published novel, God’s Child.  A Christian novel based on the song from Mercy Me, “I Can Only Imagine.”  I have always thought of what I will do when I meet Jesus face to face.  Am I worthy of such?  Will he accept me after all I have done against him?  There is a lot of me in this novel.  I hope it touches others as it touched me.
After her death, a woman journeys with an angel to Paradise Pasture where she waits, with many others, to see Jesus face to face.  She realizes that although she had died, it does not necessarily mean her life is over.  Her journey with an angel guide takes her through her inner thoughts of self worth.  Her earthly attributes follow her to Paradise although she is no longer of earthly quality.  Is it because she is not worthy to be in heaven?  Is it because she is still a sinner?  Will she finally meet her Savior, or will she be rejected from heaven’s angelic hosts and sent away?

My second novel is a children’s novel, Bear and Mel, Friends: An Unlikely Duo.  Bear and Mel are my two real life pets.  This inspiration came from sitting on my deck or patio as I read.  I am still marveled at the animals’ activity in the backyard, although Bear is no longer an outside dog.  I watched and listened.  Bear would let any animal eat from his dish or drink from his water.  They would not be afraid of him, and I wondered, do they really communicate and they know he is okay with them eating and drinking his food and water.  I listened to the birds chatter and answer each other.  I listened to the squirrels alarm others if a cat was nearby.  So, the story of Bear and Mel grew within me.  Once it started, it never stopped.  I could not get the animals inside my head to hush.  The premise struck home when we went through a rash of car burglaries in the neighborhood, and so lived the antagonist.  Once I began to put everything into the perspective of the animals, I could not stop.
Bear and Mel, who like most cats and dogs, did not get along, but with the help of their backyard and neighborhood friends came together to thwart the neighborhood thief.  However, to instill a little mystery, the thief is not the only antagonist.  Reviewers told me they laughed, yet cried, and felt connected to the animals and their owners.  I feel more connected to this story because it is real to me.  My pets are a real part of my life.  Bear and Mel are now 16 and 17 respectively.  I am watching them age as do I.  We are connected.

What is your favorite genre to write? 
I would have to say my favorite genre to write and read is fiction.  I love anything fiction.  I have tried my hand at writing just about every kind.  I am currently working on two pieces, one I hope to have out in November, The Christmas Angel, which is a short story about a boy who meets an angel during the holiday season shortly after the death of his little sister.  Another is a murder mystery set in my favorite city to visit, New Orleans, about my two sisters and me, suitably titled, 3 Sisters, 3 Secrets, & 3 Murders.

Favorite food.
My favorite food is cheesecake, and I put garlic on everything, except cheesecake, that is.  ☺

I love cheesecake , too!  But not garlic.  Where would you like to visit?
I would love to visit Alaska to see the Aurora Borealis.  I had never thought of making a bucket list until I realized I am at the age I better start seeing this beautiful world before I am no longer able.  Another place I would love to see with my own eyes is Angel Falls, Venezuela.  Although that will probably never happen since I have a fear of flying, jungles, and slimy icky bugs and squirmy creatures as found in the Venezuelan jungles.  Another place would be to travel down the streets of Venice, Italy, just because I teach social studies and have discussed it with my students on many occasions with a lot of unanswered questions, and no Google cannot do that for me.

Venice is absolutely beautiful.  I love Venice.  Favorite musical artist.
My favorite musical artists are Rob Thomas from Matchbox 20 and Billy Currington.  Those guys’ voices just do something to my soul.  Do you listen to music when you write?  It depends.  Some days I need back ground “noise”, tv or what not.  What? If I do listen to music, it’s usually whatever is on my iphone, which right now has: the above mentioned, Michael Bolton, OMGosh!, Christian music, such as Colton Dixon, Toby Mac, Mandisa, and of course, Mercy Me, and something I can listen to on repeat forever, which is currently running on repeat, is “Friends and Love”, the classical theme song from Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, which happens to be my favorite book and movie in the series.

What makes you laugh?
My husband makes me laugh.  I think he is just hilarious, and I have never personally known anyone that can do that for me.  I love Jerry Lewis movies.  In my darkest of hours, he can pull me out of a slump.  Also, anything that has to do with funny animals and babies remind me what is most important in life, genuine humor.  But, I am not a funny person by no means, so writing comedy, not so much.
How old were you when you started writing? I began writing around the age of six.  I knew I wanted to read as soon as I knew the letters made words.  I was so fascinated.  I would get so upset with myself when I could not understand words.  I basically taught myself very quickly to read in first grade.  I was always ahead of my group, and that brought me to writing my own stories.  I wanted to be a part of that miracle I stumbled upon.

Where do you get your inspiration?
My inspiration comes from the voices inside my head that will not stop bothering me until I put them down on paper.  I write about dreams, memories, anything that moves me.  I even wake up and write notes on my phone or Nook, just so I can go back to sleep.  Yet, it is weird, that I cannot commit to writing a journal.  I have tried on several occasions, and I guess it is just too… “focused” (?)  And to me that is a strange thing too since I am so obsessive compulsive about certain things.

What do you do when you get a writer's block?
When I get writer’s block, I watch old movies and read, read, read, until the voices return.

Who is your favorite author?
Do you really have time for this?  I have so many….John Grisham, of course, being the native Mississippian, James Patterson, Janet Evanovich, Ted Dekker, Frank Perretti, Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins, and usually any Christmas love story.  And then, there’s children’s books: Patricia Polacco, Lois Lowry, Margaret Peterson Haddix, Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein, I could keep going…

Best book you ever read. 
My favorite book is The Shack by William P. Young, no doubt about it.  My favorite series is Harry Potter.  Oh, how I would love to be able to write like J.K. Rowling.  Maybe, one day.

Who is the one person who has influenced your personal life the most and why?
That is hard to say.  All my life I have had stepping stones to get me to the point where I am and the person I am today: my husband, my children, my grandchildren, my pastor, my family, my friends.  Who is to say that they have the most important place in my life?  Really, to think about it, it does come down to one person, my savior, Jesus Christ.

If you could sit down and have a conversation with ONE person, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why?
I have thought about this on numerous occasions.  Narrowing it down to just one seems…disrespectful, if that is the right word, to the others.  But, you say ONE, so I guess it would have to be…again, Jesus Christ.  I would just want him to talk and me to listen.  I think no one has ever just wanted to let Jesus talk.  Everyone has questions, questions, questions about their lives, reasons why, their futures, end times, and aptly so with the way our world has become.  I, personally, would just want to listen to anything he would want to say to me.

What advice would you give someone who aspired to be a writer? I talk to my students almost daily about reading and writing. 
 I have students who love to write and will ask me to read their work.  It takes everything in me, as a teacher and former elementary librarian, to not edit their work.  I do however critique their work pretty ferociously.  I think I owe it to them.  I would never tell a student not to write for any reason.  I encourage what they have inside of them, even if it is ugly.  Sometimes putting things down on paper, of which I am familiar, seems to be a healing process, and sometimes that is all they want is for someone to “hear” their voices screaming inside their heads.


Thank you for stopping by this morning, Dawn.  Come back and see us again when your next book comes out.

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