It’s Meet the Author Monday! Each week we get to meet a new author and get to know a little about them, their writing process, publishing experience, and tips for other writers. Today we’re talking to Jessica Grace Coleman, author of Write Your Life: The Ultimate Life Hack For Achieving Your Dreams.
Side Note: I’m super excited about this author feature! Jessica reached out to me on my blog and asked if I’d be willing to read/review her book. I told her I would love to! Watch for the review to be coming soon along with a giveaway opportunity!
About Jessica Grace Coleman:
Jessica Grace Coleman is a British author, editor, and self-proclaimed introvertpreneur with a passion for words and a mission to help people change their lives through writing. She has released six Young Adult novels in the Little Forest and Downfall series, and since 2014 she has helped writers of all levels complete their books through her proofreading, editing and ghostwriting services. Now she is switching from fiction to non-fiction with her new book, Write Your Life: The Ultimate Life Hack For Achieving Your Dreams, and her new venture, The Write Together Academy (www.writetogetheracademy.com), home of the Write Your Life Method. As well as a writer and editor, she is a personal development author and mentor who empowers people to believe in themselves, overcome their limiting beliefs, and design their dream lives.
Author Interview with Jessica Grace Coleman:
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- What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
I love visiting places linked to literature, and I always try to fit something literary based in whenever I go away. I particularly love visiting the homes of famous writers, and one of my favourites was Mark Twain’s house in Hartford, Connecticut when I went on a road trip around New England with some friends – both the house and its surroundings are beautiful. On the same trip I also dragged my friends to Sleepy Hollow as I love The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow, and you can visit Washington Irving’s grave in the cemetery of the Old Dutch Church – I’m a huge fan of spooky stuff so that was great, especially as we went at Halloween! We also visited Bangor, Maine and did a Stephen King tour around the city, including a stop-off at Stephen King’s amazing gothic-looking house (which is definitely ‘house goals’!). I’ve also been to Edgar Allan Poe’s grave in Baltimore, where a mysterious visitor known only as the ‘Poe Toaster’ used to visit every year on Poe’s birthday, make a toast to the late author with some cognac, and leave behind three roses before vanishing again!
- If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
I would tell her to write regularly – a bit each day if possible – and to also keep a constant, consistent diary. I kept some diaries on and off when I was younger, but even now (in my thirties) my memory is fairly terrible and while I can remember events from my past, I might not remember them exactly as they happened or exactly how I was feeling at the time. One of the main messages of my website, The Write Together Academy, can be summarised by an old African quote: When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground. If we don’t write our life stories down on paper – or at least record the lessons we’ve learnt during our lives, whether as an autobiography or in a novel – when we die, everything we’ve been through and everything we’ve achieved dies with us. It’s pretty morbid, I admit, but it’s true. So, I would tell my younger self to write down anything and everything so that when she comes to write her story in the future, she has all the material she needs to draw from. It would certainly have made writing my Write Your Life book a lot easier!
- How do you select the names of your characters?
This is probably one of my favourite parts of writing fiction – coming up with names of characters and places that actually mean something or that playfully hint at things. I played around with names quite a bit in my Little Forest series. For instance, my main character is called Beth Powers, a not-so-subtle hint that Beth may well start gaining powers of her own in the future. Most of the other names used in the Little Forest series were chosen to give an overall feeling of small village, country living. We have Max Rivers, Daniel Fields, and Rick Wood to evoke images of the countryside, not to mention Mrs Teasdale and Reverend Kipling – my homage to tea and cake, something that is quintessentially British. I did a similar thing with place names. The stately home that holds the Halloween celebrations is called Chillingsley Hall, which I wanted to sound appropriately spooky, while the town of Willowton yet again evokes images of trees and forests. The village of Renfield is an homage to the ‘crazy’ character in Dracula, as sanity and insanity are big themes in the series. Then we have the county of Covershire, so named because of the images of covertness and maybe even covens it brings to mind – hinting at the magical elements of the series.
- What is your favorite childhood book?
I love Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery and The Solitaire Mystery by Jostein Gaarder. I can read them both over and over again, as the landscapes and villages they so brilliantly describe seem perfectly picturesque, and they’re just a brilliant way to escape from reality for a few hours (especially The Solitaire Mystery, which weaves wonderful elements of fantasy and philosophy into the story-within-a-story).
- Describe your writing space.
I was forced to revamp my writing space recently due to a two-year-long back injury caused by sitting too much at my desk! Now I have a standing desk converter, a stand for my laptop so it’s on the same level as my second monitor, and an anti-fatigue mat so I can stand for long periods of time. I also got a new chair with extra lumbar support for when I occasionally sit down, and a fitness ball as it’s good for building up core strength. Add in my vision board next to my desk, my pot plants, and my hundreds of notebooks and pens, and I’m good to go! This is actually a subject I talk about a lot as I don’t want other people to experience what I went through for two years, with endless searing pain and pretty much being unable to move for months on end (I wrote most of the Write Your Life book lying down on my back!). I actually wrote a blog post titled How To Stay Healthy – Physically and Mentally – When Working From Home on my Write Together Academy site, which applies to writers and anyone who works from home.
- What does success mean to you? What is the definition of success?
I talk about what success means to me – and others – in my Write Your Life book, and I even suggest an exercise all about writing your ‘Success Sentence’. This involves writing out all your main past successes in your life (such as finishing university, running a marathon, buying a house, raising money for charity, writing a book, starting a business, raising children, losing weight, getting healthy, paying off debt, or whatever it is you’ve achieved) as a reminder that you can do brilliant things in the future because you’ve already achieved so many brilliant things in the past. Then, I ask the reader to really think hard about what success means to them. For some, it will be a financial thing, for some it will be personal, some people will be all about giving back, while others will simply want to be happy. Then I ask the reader to boil all this down to just one sentence of what success means to them in this moment (as it can and will change as you get older and grow as a person). I came up with the following for my Success Sentence:
“Success for me means doing what I love for a living, earning enough to live comfortably with no debt or financial stress, and having the ability to give back in a meaningful way.”
- What were the key challenges you faced when writing this book?
As my first proper non-fiction book, the main challenge was fitting in everything I wanted to fit in, in an order that made sense to the reader, while also writing a mini novel within the book as an example of how the reader can write their own story, starring themselves as the main character. So, logistically, it was pretty difficult to get right. I also include quite a few personal stories and anecdotes in the book, which is the first time I’ve done anything like that with my writing. I was scared what people might think and felt resistance with putting it all out there, but that’s one of the things the book is about – getting outside your comfort zone so that you can go after your dreams – so I didn’t have much of a choice. I had to practice what I preached!
- What is your favorite quote?
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself” – George Bernard Shaw.
I start my Write Your Life book with this quote, as it is something I wholeheartedly believe and it’s basically what my entire book is about. So many of us go through life looking for something – our reason, our purpose – but our purpose isn’t something we’re just going to stumble upon; it’s something we have to create for ourselves. Part of my mission with this book is to get people to realise this, and then get them to actually create their purpose, their reason for being on this planet, and the legacy they want to leave behind.
- What famous author do you wish would be your mentor?
Stephen King, absolutely. He’s such a prolific writer and he seems so down to earth, but more than that – he and his wife have done so much for their town (Bangor, Maine). When I went on the Stephen King tour we drove around to all the places in Bangor that have benefitted from the Kings’ generosity, and there are a LOT of places. It’s so nice to see how much he gives back. Besides, his house is amazing – if he could mentor me there, that would be the dream!
- Where can readers find out more about you and your books?
You can find out more about the Write Together Academy at www.writetogetheracademy.com and the Write Your Life Method in particular at www.writeyourlifemethod.com. My author website is www.jessicagracecoleman.com if you want to find out more about my novels, and you can also find me on Instagram at @jessicagcoleman and @writetogetheracademy. If you’re more of a Facebook person, you can like the Write Together Academy page at www.facebook.com/writetogetheracademy and you can join the private Write Your Life Community group at www.facebook.com/groups/writeyourlifegroup. Thank you!