Thursday, February 3, 2011

Interview with author Jaleta Clegg

Today my guest is speculative fiction author, Jaleta Clegg.

1) Tell me a little about your book.
Nexus Point is a science fiction adventure story. Captain Dace just wants to fly her ship, doing enough trading to keep it flying, but her crew betrays her, blowing up the ship and stranding her on Dadilan, a medieval tech world where the natives think she's a demon and try to kill her. That's chapter one. It takes all of her resources to find a way to survive. If you like lots of action and adventure with just a touch of romance, Nexus Point is a great read.

2) What gave you the idea for this particular story?
Nexus Point is the first book in a series. I started book two, then realized it wasn't the beginning of the character's story. So I thought, how would a person from a high-tech culture react when dumped into a low-tech culture, especially a woman on a planet where women are considered property? The rest of the story just grew from that seed. Dace is a tough woman, but completely unprepared for the situation. The book is a complete story but it sets the stage for the rest of the series.

3) Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I'd love to be a full-time writer, but life isn't cooperating. I've got seven kids still at home (married off my oldest last summer!) and I work part-time at a job I love. My writing gets squeezed into school vacations, summer vacations, afternoons, evenings, whenever I have enough energy to keep my eyes open and type a coherent sentence. I'm spending a lot of time with marketing and short stories lately. I'm editing book two of the series for the publisher. It should be out late this year.

4) When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I've always dabbled with words and played stories in my head. I didn't get serious about it until I had a computer. Something about word processors and the ease of fixing mistakes on a computer screen let the words come more easily. I've always loved storytelling. Writing is just another form of it.

5) What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
I write mostly to entertain. If you enjoyed spending time reading my stories, then I've accomplished my goal. I try to write characters you can care about. Although things get tough for my characters, I try to always keep a sense of hope, that things will get better, that life is worth living.

6) Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
I write mostly science fiction, but I've also found some success with comic horror. I'm working on a high fantasy novel right now that's also a lot of fun. The older I get, though, the more I prefer science fiction. I love space. I want my own starship, but the only way that's going to happen is if I invent it myself in my stories.

7) What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
Believing in myself, that what I write is good. Having a very supportive husband who loves my books helps. All writers suffer this to some degree. Knowing that it's normal to doubt your story while you write it really helps. I just have to keep plugging at it, and believe it's better than I think. It also helps to keep learning how to improve your writing. I look at my early stuff and just cringe. Then I read my latest work and realize how much better it is. Chocolate also helps, lots of it.

8) How much is your protagonist like you? How different?
Tough question. Dace isn't me, and I'm not her. But we do have a lot of similarities. Some of my insecurities are hers. But she's stronger than I am, more courageous, and more willing to speak her mind. I couldn't do what she did in the book, and I'm very glad I will never be in the position where I'd have to. She's also less grounded. She has no family, no roots, and no religion. She doesn't know what she's missing.

9) What kind of research did you do for this type of story?
I've spent forty years reading about space, science fiction, and adventure stories. Does that count? Most of what I needed to write the story was already in my head.

10) Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not?
I don't write highly sexual scenes. My rule of thumb there is that if it would embarrass me to have my mom read it, I won't write it. Any romance is kept at the sweet level. It's more about the people and the relationship than it is about the sexual chemistry.

Violence is another thing. I can write very graphic violent scenes, but it gets toned way down in the editing. I'm not comfortable with anything that would be an R-rating. Lots of violence happens in Nexus Point, but it's never glorified or just there for the shock value. There's a reason it happens. And the only people who enjoy hurting people are the villains.

11) What about your book makes it special?
Most science fiction is written about men. Nexus Point features a female spaceship captain, one who struggles with her feminine side. The story is told first person. You really get inside Dace's head and see things from her perspective. It's not a voice you'll find very often in science fiction adventure stories.

12) What is your marketing plan?
I was hoping my publisher would do it for me, but sadly, that happens very rarely in the publishing world these days. I'm on Twitter and Facebook, where I've met some amazing people. I blog about writing, conventions, life, book reviews, and author interviews every Monday and recipes every Thursday. I've got websites about my writing where you can find links to everything. I feel like a pimp somedays. "Want a good time? Read my book!" It's hard to market without becoming a spammer. For me, though, it's about making connections and finding people who enjoy my book as much as I do. It's about making friends. I have friends all over the world because I put myself out there.

13) Where can people learn more about you and your work?
Visit my website:
It's got links to everything, my novel, all my short stories in print, plus some free stories.
I'm always happy to make new friends.

14) Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?
Read lots of the classic science fiction. Get a good grounding in the golden age stories, the ones full of adventure, strange aliens, and excitement. Start reading all those science magazines. Not only will you be current on all the research happening, but you'll get lots of great story ideas. Ask what if and don't be afraid to explore the answers, no matter how far-fetched they may seem.

If you want to write, write. The best way to learn to write is to do it, a lot. If you want published, learn what you're getting into first. Publishing is a completely different game from writing. Be prepared for a lot of disappointment and rejection. It comes with the territory.

Nexus Point synopsis: Dace's wants are simple - her own ship and a good enough trade route to keep her flying. But on her first trip, her crew betrays her, destroying her ship and stranding her on a low-tech world. The natives think she's a demon and try to kill her. The undercover police on the planet, hunting drug smugglers, are sure she's one of the smugglers. The real smugglers think she's competition. Any way you look at it, Dace is in deep trouble. Her only hope of getting free is to convince the undercover agent trying to kill her that she's innocent.


  1. Hi, Penny.

    Thanks for the interview. Answering the questions was a lot of fun!