Say hello to Jackie Gamber as she takes on interview questions from H. David Blalock!
HDB: You aren't only a writer. You also work in other media. Tell me a little about that.
JG: Since I'm an avid storyteller, I also have an abiding interest in filmmaking, and the visual aspect of those stories. I've written a number of feature-length screenplays, as well written and directed short films.
HDB: You and your husband Dan once ran a publishing house called Meadowhawk Press. How was it, being on both sides of the publishing business at once?
JG: Being an editor and publisher really gave me a perspective into the industry I don't think I could have gotten any other way. As a money-making venture, publishing is completely subjective, and I understand how publishers can be constantly on the edge of guessing which books will be the "big one", and being repeatedly baffled by readers. As an editor, I had to decline works that weren't right for the press, often my friends, even, and to wade those treacherous waters. I discovered I have a knack for recognizing good stories and storytelling, but in the end, my own writing time suffered, and I had to reevaluate my personal and professional goals.
HDB: You also started a writers' group in Memphis. How do you think writers' groups help? How do they inhibit?
JG: A good writers' group can make all the difference. Writers spend so much time in their own heads; crafting, dreaming, creating. It can be an isolating experience. Sharing time with other people who want the same things, have the same perspective and understanding, can be a terrific support system. On the other hand, the general writing skill of the group as a whole is crucial to a writer's growth. Improvement takes practice, and if the group is the kind to talk about writing, rather than actual writing, or to feel threatened by individual successes, then it's no better than a middle school gossip group.
HDB: Tell us about your fight for dragon's rights.
JG: Dragons are people too! I've been a founder of the group HADS (Humans Against Dragon Stereotypes), working to spread awareness and to encourage healthy communication between humans and dragons. Some of my articles have included dragon history, dragon safety (such as what to do if you come across one in the wild), and dragon appreciation as a species.
HDB: Conventions are a big part of promotion for writers. You have been instrumental in convention planning. What should writers know about that?
JG: Conventions can be a great way to network; with other writers, with potential agents or publishers (depending on the focus). I've learned to navigate conventions by understanding my limits. I can't be everywhere at the same time, and no matter how hard I try, I can't meet everyone and make everything an opportunity. Decide what you want out of a convention, and call it a success with reachable goals.
HDB: Awards and recognition by readers and peers is gratifying. Tell us about yours and how they came about.
JG: My most gratifying award was winning the "Mary Shelley Award for Imaginative Fiction". I'm such a Mary Shelley fan, which is what led me to send my work to the contest, to begin with. I was given the news that I'd won right about the week of Christmas, and couldn't think of a better gift.
HDB: Some years ago you edited an anthology called “Touched by Wonder”. Tell us about it and what you wanted to do with it.
JG: "Touched by Wonder" was an early project with Meadowhawk Press. It was an exercise in seeing how far we could reach for talented writers, among other things. It worked well; we discovered authors we went on to make book deals with (including the author of the book which won the Philip K. Dick award).
HDB: Finally, fill us in on the Redheart series. What, who, where, and how.
JG: "Redheart", "Sela", and "Reclamation" are the books of my Leland Dragon series; a story of a dying land, and a population. Dragons and humans once worked together as allies, but have since become competitors for resources--and enemies. To be saved, Leland must be bathed with magic, and forgiveness.