Jack Hessey is one of my fellow LazyDay Publishing authors. He is the author of Steam Queen, a steampunk novel, and On Angels Wings, a young adult fantasy novel. I recently interviewed him about his books and his writing.
Welcome, Jack. Why don’t you start by telling us a little about yourself.
There’s not much to tell. I’m from Mansfield in England, and after suffering through four years of temporary jobs and unemployment, I decided to get into education again. I’m currently studying Zoo Biology at Nottingham Trent.
Who is your favorite character in Steam Queen, and why?
Without a doubt it is Erica. I just find that she’s a really unique, unusual character. She’s an emotionally unstable girl with a bleak outlook on the world. A traumatic experience in her past has caused her to suffer from Mysophobia. She forces herself to never let people walk all over her, believing the best way to do this is to cruelly punish people who wrong her, no matter how small the offense.
She is a strange girl who takes great pride in the ‘freak’ tag that the other people in her town have tagged onto her. She judges people too quickly and often struggles to make friends because she takes an immediate dislike to others for no reason.
She isn’t really your typical main character since she has quite a lot of negative traits, and that is why I like her!
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
I’ve got a second book out called On Angels Wings, also with LazyDay Publishing. It’s a young adult fantasy that follows a newly graduated Guardian Angel’s attempts to protect a girl from a rogue Angel who is out to kill her.
Other than that, I’m working on a sequel to Steam Queen. It’s set in the same world as Steam Queen but follows a different character. It could work either as a direct sequel or as a standalone novel since only one character makes a return and even she doesn’t appear until late in the novel. It does tie in with Steam Queen however, both books are linked, which will lead to a third book in the series.
Who is your literary idol?
J.K Rowling. I love what she has managed to achieve, and she’s got such talent in writing interesting supporting/minor characters, something that many people don’t manage.
How do you approach a story? Do you start with outlines or something else?
I’m an outliner. I do brief chapter outlines and then start writing. Saying that, I usually end up changing things, and the story goes in a completely opposite direction than planned.
What’s the most personally challenging aspect of writing?
The query letter. What hell that was, summing up a 76,000-word novel into a few measly sentences that are good enough to hook agents and publishers. I dread going to query letter hell again.
What genres do you write in? Why?
Fantasy, because it means I can put what I want in it no matter how outlandish it may seem. I don’t wanna be shackled by the real world!
Can you tell us about any themes you have running through your stories?
Betrayal, war and right or wrong play a big part in Steam Queen. Another major focus is overcoming fears, something that the main character has to deal with.
Tell us your “story of getting published.”
After finishing the novel and polishing it up, I first submitted to agents. Got a few full-manuscript requests and a fair few rejections. Most rejections were positive though, praising the story in some way or another but didn’t think it was right for them.
I had more success going directly to publishers. Got a contract from two publishers (including LazyDay who I eventually went with) and a week after signing the contract after notifying other publishers who had my manuscript, two emailed me back saying they had been about to offer a contract, too.
Where can readers learn more about your book?
Thank you for joining me, Jack, and good luck with your novels. Keep writing!