Author Interview with Donald Jacques

Donald Jacques was born in 1957, as an air force brat. He has lived in ten states over the years enjoying 8 kids, 6 grand kids. Don spent fifteen years as a computer programmer, worked as a teacher, a pro dance instructor, security guard, and commercial handyman. The HandyMan is his third book.

It’s rare today to find an author who does nothing but write for a living. Do you have a ‘real’ job other than writing, and if so, what is it? What are some other jobs you’ve had in your life?

Donald Jacques: I currently work as a commercial handyman. I repair, or perform preventive maintenance on plumbing fixtures, lighting, and wall repairs. In the past, I spent 15 years as a computer programmer, 10 years instruction in classrooms and corporate training, even did a few years as a ballroom dance instructor.

What compelled you to write your first book?

Donald Jacques: I was not really compelled, but guided by the characters of the story. More like getting to know a new friend, Kyrn (of Moonstone) shared with me his odyssey and challenges. I simply wrote it down.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Donald Jacques: Actually, I have enjoyed the pleasure of creating. Whether writing a computer program, or short story, or novel – bringing the words, concepts and characters together into a cohesive story is gratifying. But when someone else gains pleasure, or insight to their own life, the story then acquires meaning not only to me, but to the reader. A story-teller’s job is to affect the receiver, to touch them in some way – even though how you touch them can never be known until they read the story.

Tell us a little bit about your book/s. What are their titles; which is your favorite if you have more than one, and briefly let us know what they are about. Pay particular attention to your most recent book and/or your first book:

Donald Jacques: Moonstone follows a young teenager named Kyrn who leaves his village to join the military group Rangers to the north. They are struggling with a rising threat of invasion from across the border. His adventures offer insight into the enemy, and ultimately he holds the key on how to defeat the enemy.

Ancestors, presents a historical fantasy in which we learn how Druids of ancient Europe came to be. Drue leads a handful of survivors of the destruction of Atlantis to what is now the British Isles, to settle and rebuild. But the rigors of the “wilderness” present challenges to these settlers, and they must face, not only the new land, but its dangers as well.

Handyman: Oak Hearth introduces us to Gil Hanady. Gil was hired a few years ago to be the handyman at Oak Hearth Apartments. Last year he became close to Dierdre, and one night saves her from a near fatal assault. She barely survives and the attacker is never caught. Now a year later, he is coming home from a movie and is struck by a car. He survives, but is in a coma. As the women of Oak Hearth visit him hoping for his recovery, we learn how he has affected them during his time with them, against the backdrop of the police searching for the serial killer in their neighborhood.

Are you currently working on any writing projects our readers should watch for release soon?

Donald Jacques: Ancestors is part of a four book series that traces our survivors and their descendents through the growth and development of Europe. There is a prequel-series of four books that gives us a history of the establishment of Atlantis. The final four book series gives us a look at how the two opposing forces of Atlantis’ origin battle for humanity’s future.

How did you feel the day you held the copy of your first book in your hands?

Donald Jacques: There is a sense of accomplishment and at the same time a let down when the last page is completed during composition. Then, there is a release of tension when the editing, and layout process is closed and the manuscript is sent to the printer. But when the finished book was placed in my hands…it was almost like when my 1st daughter was married, going out to build her own family. The book was placed in the market and only time will tell how well it does.

What type of music, if any, do you listen to while you write?

Donald Jacques: Usually, I listen to the radio while I write. The varying songs, artists, and music styles add an unexpected element to the writing. Just as music changes my own moods, it can enhance the unfolding of the story in unexpected ways. While I start out with a basic understanding of the story, and sometimes a general outline, often there are story sidelines, and new characters that appear and disappear as the music, or other aspects of my life impact on my mind.

What inspires you and motivates you to write the very most?

Donald Jacques: Life, plain and simple. Life is what we write about, no matter what the setting, it is the characters, the people we discover in the writing – and reading, that inspire us, that drive us, that touch us in ways we never expected. This is just like the people we meet in our daily lives that touch us, inspire us, and sometimes disgust us to make changes in our own lives. Writing and reading afford us the opportunity to meet, and interact with a wider range of people than we otherwise might.

What one thing are you the most proud of in your life?

Donald Jacques: My children. They have all, in their own way made their mark, and are living lives that make me proud to have touched theirs in some small way.

What about your family? Do you have children, married, siblings, parents? Has your family been supportive of your writing?

Donald Jacques: I am a father of eight children from four mothers. I am not the easiest man to live with, as I have always had very distinct and specific ideas on life, and how to live it. My stories have offered a means to explore these ideas, with varying results. Families rarely offer support to writers until that writer becomes famous. Making a living is what families hope you can do well, and the breadth of their support comes in offering help in finding ways to “work” to make a living – not always in writing. That said, there is always considerate support for the interest in creative work that I do, and they appreciate the writing itself.

The main characters of your stories – do you find that you put a little of yourself into each of them or do you create them to be completely different from you?

Donald Jacques: I believe that every “story” I write is a reflection of some part or parts of my life or me. That reflection may be of a tiny thought or idea I had once, or could be a simile or allegory to a traumatic experience, or just a passing fantasy or what-if idea that I might like to try some day. I have, on occasion tried to make a very different character, but in the end, that character draws much of who they are from my own personality and life experience. As the characters develop within the story, the events of that story change the characters somewhat as they evolve within the story. In the end, there are some similarities that can be drawn, but they end up very different than I, and yet …

Is there an established writer you admire and emulate in your own writing? Do you have a writing mentor?

Donald Jacques: I grew up reading A.E. Van Vogt, Robert Heinlein, and Issac Asimov. The combination of self-development, societal development, and humanistic robots gave me a sense of what we are capable of and a hope, we as a species might achieve some part of that potential. As a choice of mentor … I admire the memorable characters of these authors, rather than the authors themselves. The authors were able to bring the characters and their lives alive for me. In that way, I aspire to be as effective a story teller as these authors, and in doing justice to their legacy of great storytelling.

When growing up, did you have a favorite author, book series, or book?

Donald Jacques: Heinlein’s Time Enough for Love has become my mantra. There are several of his books that comprise his timeline, but this particular book touched me in ways that perhaps shaped many of my views about life, love, and writing good stories.

What about now: who is your favorite author and what is your favorite genre to read?

Donald Jacques: I still follow science fiction and fantasy. My choices are less about a favorite author, but rather the stories that take the characters into uncharted territory, and new discoveries about themselves, and their species. Extending our abilities, and talents to grow and excel in ways that makes us better people is what it’s all about. Stories that show us what going through the day to day experiences and challenges sheds light on those we actually face, and hopefully offer insights for us to make better decisions.

Bring us into your home and set the scene for us when you are writing. What does it look like? On the couch, laptop, desk? Music? Lighting, handwriting?

Donald Jacques: I very seldom write at home. I find that I must be out among people, at the mall, a restaurant, even in the park. I carry a spiral pad in which I hand write, and at the end of the day, I key those writings into the laptop. Currently, all my writing is keyed online to an authoring website, and I am managing all my writing projects there now. Should I have a particularly juicy scene, I can drop in at a library, or Wi-Fi spot and quickly get them into the project files.

Do you watch television? If so, what are your favorite shows? Does television influence of inspire your writing?

Donald Jacques: I have recently been following Falling Skies, Alphas, and Leverage. Television offers new situations that are often intriguing, but mostly, I share with a friend how I, as a writer might develop the story, or change it.

Now that you are a published author, does it feel differently than you had imagined?

Donald Jacques: Not really, but it has not been that long, so time will tell. I do experience a confidence I did not know I possessed, and my life view has changed somewhat. The speed of life seems to have slowed a bit, but I still keep my day job, and I still go to the mall on occasion to see how the world is progressing. I am not the center of the universe, and hope I never feel that I am. It is more fun to be on the sidelines, able to see and tell the many stories I see unfolding every day.

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