Interview with Angelica R. Jackson, Runner Up in the Spring 2020 Flash Fiction Contest

Tuesday, October 06, 2020


Angelica R. Jackson, in keeping with her scattered Gemini nature, has published articles on gardening, natural history, web design, travel, hiking, and local history. Other interests include pets, reading, green living, and cooking for food allergies (the latter not necessarily by choice, but she’s come to terms with it). Ongoing projects include short fiction, poetry, novels, art photography, and children’s picture books.  
She’s also been involved with capturing the restoration efforts for Preston Castle (formerly the Preston School of Industry) in photographs and can sometimes be found haunting its hallways. An incurable joiner, she is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (where she serves as her region's Social Media Coordinator), and several other writing organizations. 

She shares a home in California's Gold Country with a husband, a rescued Basset Fauve de Bretagne dog, plus a Miniature Pinscher/Nibblonian mix, a reformed-feral tabby, and far too many books (if that's even possible). She is the author of the award-winning Faerie Crossed young adult urban fantasy series, and her photos are collected in Capturing The Castle: Images of Preston Castle (2006-2016). She also features her art on her line of handmade jewelry, Charming Corby Jewelry. 

Angelica’s story “Ebb Tide” placed third in the WOW! Women On Writing Spring 2010 Flash Fiction Contest

Connect with her online: Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Art Galleries, Website

Make sure you read Angelica's story The Devil You Know, then come on back and read her interview. 

 -- Interview by Nicole Pyles 

WOW: First of all, congratulations on winning runner up in the flash fiction contest! I felt like this story is part of a much bigger one, especially with your strong character development. How did you get into the mindset of this character? 

Angelica: Your intuition is correct--this is actually a reworked section of a novel I'm working on called Stay, Girl: Together, a runaway girl and a neglected hound overcome their abusive pasts by taking the lead in a fun-filled neighborhood prank war. It's Because of Winn-Dixie meets Okay for Now, set in small-town Northern California in the 1930s. 

I rewrote this scene to be more of a standalone flash fiction piece, which mainly meant taking out some exposition that related to other parts of the story, and also changing the characters somewhat. In the novel, the character of Lacey is a dog rather than a cousin, but that seemed like it would take too many words to set up. 

For the main character, I drew on my own childhood abuse and tried to convey how that trauma plays out through a child's POV. Lacey is inspired by a hound we rescued a few years ago, who came to us sick and shutdown with shyness. I think my understanding of how to give her time and space contributed to her bonding so closely with me before she eventually passed away. That's one of the great things about fiction, too--in my book, the dog doesn't die! The other two dogs mentioned in the story, Nap and Josie, are based on my current pair of mischievous, rescued dogs. 

WOW: I love how you pulled from your own experiences. You have such vivid descriptions in this piece that I felt like I was actually there. How do you capture settings and scenery in such a vivid way? 

Angelica: The settings and descriptions are a blend of my visual artist side and some sensory issues I have. The visual artist side expresses itself in my photography, sketches, and paintings, and it has trained me to notice and memorize details. 

When I'm looking for inspiration, I'm just as charmed by the bee with pollen caught in its hair as I am by the wide field of flowers and looming mountains. I'm also fascinated by how two artists can describe or interpret the same scene so differently; a finished painting or scene in a story is made up of who we are as well as what we see. And how that is expressed through the filter of our experience. 

I have some sensory issues that make it difficult to tune out sounds, smells, breaks in a visual pattern, and so on. It can be both a blessing and a curse, but I have definitely embraced using it to make scenes and characters richer and more dimensional. 

WOW: I think that's amazing! You have such a variety of creative talents! How do you nurture each one? 

Angelica: Funnily enough, I feel like each outlet only adds to the well of creativity rather than taking away from it. If I get stuck in one of my writing projects, I'll go work on some art for a while and it takes the pressure off the writing block. Creating art specifically for my writing projects also gets me inspired again, like how my book covers make me like the characters all over again--and believe me, after rounds of revisions or proofing audiobooks, I need to be reminded of the time before I was sick of my characters and my story, haha. 

 Last year I also started making glass cabochon jewelry with my artwork and some vintage images and find it relaxing to piece my jewelry. Making small design decisions like what finish or size of setting suits each image the best is a nice break from larger plotting decisions in a novel. 

WOW: I completely agree. Creative outlets each feed each other! What are you currently working on that you can tell us a bit about? 

Angelica: I'm working on Stay, Girl, mentioned above, and it started out as a middle-grade book but may turn out to be more for the adult literary market. I'm also working on the third and final book in my young adult, urban fantasy series, Spellmeet, which should be out next year. 

The other project is a deep rewrite of the first book I wrote (my UF series was the first published), a task prompted by the stressful days of COVID. My anxiety reached a point where I was truly struggling to write new words in my book projects, but I found I could get my brain to cooperate with shorter pieces (like my contest entry) and editing. I had set aside my first novel because although I had grown as a writer to the point where I could see all the first-book issues, I couldn't see how to fix them. Turns out the best way was to ditch over 2/3 of the words I'd already written and start many of the sections from scratch. I'm pleased with how it's going but needed a break, so I'm currently setting up an Etsy store for my jewelry. 

WOW: I'm so impressed with what you've been working on! What surrounds you when you write?

Angelica: Unless I'm at my PC, I move around a lot when I write. I'm fortunate enough that we have a beautiful garden and when it's nice outside, I often take my work out there. My Instagram feed is mostly my garden and my dogs if anyone wants some visuals. 

My office has posters lining the walls (including some gorgeous art deco versions of characters from the show Firefly), and multiple dog beds and a cat tree since the critters have figured out that I am in that room a lot. When the dogs come in from the garden, the first place they look for me is the office, haha. I usually have music playing in another room because it's too distracting to have it right in my ears while I'm working.

WOW: Your office sounds amazing! Thank you again for speaking with us today and best of luck with your writing! 


Angelica R. Jackson said...

Thank you for spotlighting me today!

Angela Mackintosh said...

Awesome interview, Nicole and Angelica!

What a great example of turning part of your novel into a stand alone story, and I agree with Nicole, that your character development is strong. Angelica, you mentioned that your novel draws from your own life--would you consider it autofiction? I'm fascinated with the genre, and I'm currently debating on whether to keep my manuscript a memoir or to go for autofiction. I love your book title.

I'm also an artist (oil painter, illustrator, and graphic designer) and find it does help with writing vivid description. I also love your art deco posters! I have several in my bathroom from Erte and lesser known Victorian inspired artists. Your garden signs are fun.

Your story is moving and beautifully written, and I loved learning about the inspiration behind it. I've been hearing from a lot of writers that since the pandemic started it's easier to focus on shorter works. I find that to be true as well, but looking forward to NaNo again this year. :)

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