Jackie Gamber is an award winning author and also a member of the professional organizations Science Fiction Writers of America and Horror Writers Association. She was named honourable mention in L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future Award, and received a 2008 Darrell Award for best short story by a Mid-South author. She is the winner of the 2009 Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award for Imaginative Fiction for her story The Freak Museum, a post-apocalyptic tale that looks closely at perceptions and outward appearances and how they affect the way we see ourselves.
Jackie is the author of the Leland Dragon series which we will be covering on Fantasy Book Review in the coming years. The review of the first book, Redheart, can be read here. Daniel Cann caught up with her in April 2012 for a quick questions and answers session.
Could you tell our readers a little about yourself?
Sure! I was a soldier, and then a secretary, before I had my kids (which are, ironically, the two things on my high school career planning sheet I said I never wanted to be).
Once I had my kids (a boy and girl, adult and teen, now) I stayed home with them and loved every minute of it.. Eventually, I transitioned into writing full time.
Who or what inspired you to be a writer?
I spent a lot of my youth writing, before I realized I was writing. I�ve always dabbled with it; poetry, stage plays, study guides. It took me a while to figure out writing has always played a part in my life somewhere.
What authors inspire you?
I�m inspired by the startling truths of Ray Bradbury, the imagery of Charles Dickens, the deep insights of Mary Shelley. Authors who can peer into the human soul and live to write about it fascinate me.
What advice would you give to other aspiring authors?
No one crafts a perfect portrait, skilfully throws a clay pot, or composes a flawless sonnet out of sheer talent; writing is no different. Respect the art by learning, practicing, learning some more.
How many hours a day do you actually spend writing?
The hours I spend writing can vary from project to project, and according to other responsibilities and deadlines. In the middle of a project, I tend toward 4 to 5 hours, or maybe longer. There is also a lot of work involved in a project that isn�t strictly writing, such as research, outlining, character and world building. That gets tucked into my day, as well.
In between projects, sometimes I don�t write at all. For a few days. My brain appreciates the break, just like muscles that need to rebuild between workouts.
Who is your favourite fictional character?
One of my favourite fictional characters of all time is Ebenezer Scrooge. Not for who he starts out as in �A Christmas Carol� but for his transformation. I adore redemption stories.
What was the main inspiration behind the Leland Dragon series?
My favourite stories have always been genre types; science fiction, fantasy, horror, and the blends. But in particular, I had a dream one night about a dragon. The kind of dream that sticks around grows in the mind even once awake. Eventually, the story became an introduction to characters, and from those characters, a world.
Which character/s from your books �Redheart� and �Sela� do you identify with the most?
I�m sure bits of me go into all my characters, in secret ways even I don�t understand. But Kallon Redheart, and in turn, his child, Sela Redheart, definitely share my �woe is me� parts that turn up in the challenges of life. I don�t deal well with discouragement, I easily shy. Which is likely why I battle with it in my fiction, trying to find my own answers to it.
What do you expect your readership to get out of your stories?
I would love for my readers see themselves as a part of each story; after all, their minds become the canvas I�m trying to paint on! Without readers, my words are locked between two covers. Readers turn them loose and help them fly.
What can your fans expect from you in the future?
More, more, more. Besides my sincere gratitude, I�ll be happy to keep writing what fans love to read. I�ve got several YA projects in the queue, including a steampunk fantasy, and an urban fantasy. I�ve also got a time travel/historical novel, some paranormal women�s fiction. And I�m currently writing a paranormal/thriller screenplay.
Do you have any other hobbies outside of writing?
I love to knit! I�ve really only tackled scarves and hats, but I don�t do it for the size of the project, more for the soothing rhythm.
Also, my husband and I love weekend motorcycle trips into the country and back. In nice weather, I want to ride and ride!
What do you hope to achieve as a writer?
As a writer, I sincerely hope to provide stories that simply can�t be told any other way, by any other person. Rather like someone discussing paintings, or fine wines, or automobiles. I�d like to hear, �Oh, is that a Jackie Gamber?�
And, even better, �How can I get my hands on one?�
Thank you very much for your time Jackie.
For more information on Jackie and her work visit http://www.jackiegamber.com/
Kallon Redheart lives with his back turned on his fellow dragons, on humans, and on everything he once understood. Riza Diantus is a young woman with dreams too wide to fit inside her village fence. Their unexpected friendship is risky in Leland Province, where drought has stripped the land and superstition has cowed its people. And the danger only grows. Fordon Blackclaw, Dragon Council Leader, resents Leland's time-worn venur system. He has inflamed tensions between dragons and humans to the brink of war. He wants to trample humans into utter submission, or wipe them off the face of the land. Anger erupts, scorching innocent lives in its path. When Riza is threatened, Kallon is the only one with the power to save her. But first, he must confront his past and the future he stopped believing in. He must claim his destiny.
"There is plenty of soaring action, drama, humour as well as a deeper message behind the thrill-fest about tolerance, understanding and peaceful coexistence. If you liked the BBC series ‘Merlin’ the film ‘Dragonheart’ and the book and film ‘Eragon’ then this is a must read. ‘Redheart’ will appeal to all ages and is a great read right up to its final unexpected twist ending." Daniel Cann, Fantasy Book Review
Peace was fleeting. Vorham Riddess, Venur of Esra Province, covets the crystal ore buried deep in Leland's mountains. His latest device to obtain it: land by marriage to a Leland maiden. But that's not all. Among Dragonkind, old threats haunt Mount Gore, and shadows loom in the thoughts of the Red who restored life to land and love. A dragon hunter, scarred from countless battles, discovers he can yet suffer more wounds. In the midst of it all, Sela Redheart is lost, driven from her home with only her old uncle to watch over her. As the dragon-born child of Kallon, the leader of Leland's Dragon Council, she is trapped in human form with no understanding of how she transformed, or how to turn back. Wanderers seek a home, schemes begin to unfurl, and all is at risk as magic and murder, marriage and mystery strangle the heart of Esra. A struggle for power far older and deeper than anyone realizes will leave no human or dragon unaffected. In a world where magic is born of feeling, where the love between a girl and a dragon was once transformative, what power dwells in the heart of young Sela?
"Once again Gamber has constructed a novel with care and executed it with precision. With themes as far ranging as deception, prejudice, misunderstanding, redemption and forgiveness this is certain to appeal to children and adults of all ages. Magic!" Daniel Cann, Fantasy Book Review