Right up front, everybody's got gifs all up in their grills and I am not doing that, but it's not because I don't love gifs, it's because I can only justify so much procrastination before I get back to work. OKAY! Let's go.
Who are you? What's happening?
Hello! I'm Jaq. I'm 26, born and bred in Barboursville, Virginia, now rocking the marketing life about as far as one can get from my (beloved) hometown without leaving the continental US. I like bourbon, fiction with extremely messy moral dilemmas, growing plants I will never properly harvest, tattoos, cooking, queer cultural discourse, sitting in the sun, sitting in the rain, and horror movies. Also other things but I think that covers the most important stuff.
What is the thing you write?
Generally I write adult fiction, always dark, with a yen for horror and dark fantasy—but always set in a realistic world. I like my streets to feel as real as yours, my characters to be the people you pass on your way to work, only they've got nightmares with very sharp teeth. They're also mostly queer. And probably depressed. I'm interested in how we live with mental illness, how we define our identities against and alongside societal expectations, and how best to kill or become monsters.
How about your MS this year?
Full disclosure: I actually submitted this book last year, too, only it was in a waaaaaaaay worse spot than it is now. It honestly feels like a different book today, after serious edits from esteemed Pitch Wars mentor Hayley Stone and a massive revision thanks to agent feedback.
My Adult Horror novel, Scrapetown, is a ghost story of the American South. Clare Monroe sees the dead in reflective surfaces—and while she thought they were trapped in mirrors, a mutilated body proves her wrong. Stir in bayou witchcraft, bloodbound necromancy, the girl she can't let in, and the boy who won't let her go. (No love triangles, just so we're clear.)
I started Scrapetown with the idea that it would be a series of vignettes set along the Crescent Amtrak route I took from Virginia to Louisiana as a fresh college grad. I knew I wanted to write about the South: its lush scenery, amazing food, haunting folklore—and, of course, its culture of repression and emotional manipulation. I also knew I wanted to write about a girl my age at the time (24), someone newly "adult" but not yet certain of what that ought to mean. Someone beyond the hormonal insanity and crippling self-doubt of adolescence but still plagued by insecurity, depression, anxiety, all these things you hope you'll grow out of... but what happens when you don't?
You develop coping mechanisms, some healthy, some not. You lie to your friends and put up a confident front. You push yourself out of your comfort zone, slowly but surely, and maybe you figure out that you're more in control than you ever supposed. And when you inevitably hurt people along the way, well, you learn to live with that also.
Over the course of 2.5 years, Scrapetown turned from the original concept to what it is today—the book of my heart, as they say. It's about hurting yourself to avoid hurting others, and figuring out how to maybe stop doing that; it's about owning who you are no matter what other people want you to be; it's about choosing the people you fight for (even if that sometimes means fighting yourself). And maybe it's a little bit about Southern cooking, too, because let's be real.
Check out this Pinterest board for a visual introduction!
Why are you cool?
I don't know, but I can make a really excellent cocktail and the best jambalaya in the world. Also I'm extremely open to suggestion, hard-working to the point of sleep deprivation, and am ready to devote whatever energy and pain is necessary in order to make this book a real book that someone else might connect with in the way I've connected with so many. That was a terrible sentence but I'm going to leave it there in the name of sincerity.
Here's the rest of the Blog Hop, also!