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Monday, June 01, 2009

Author Interview ~ Jacqueline Seewald

Jacqueline Seewald has work appearing in hundreds of diverse publications such as: THE WRITER, SASEE, TEA, AFFAIRE DE COEUR, LOST TREASURE, THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, PEDESTAL, SURREAL, AFTER DARK, THE DANA LITERARY SOCIETY JOURNAL, LIBRARY JOURNAL, THE ERICKSON TRIBUNE and PUBLISHERS WEEKLY. Her recent novel, THE INFERNO COLLECTION was published by Five Star/Gale in hardcover and Wheeler large print.

Welcome to Novel Journey, how long did it take you to get published?

I started winning writing contests in elementary school through high school.But it was a lot of years before I was professionally published. I’d like to say that getting my first novel published happened quickly but it didn’t, it took many years of hard work, writing and rewriting.

Do you think an author is born or made?

You have to love words, love reading and writing. After that, you have to work at it. Writing is a craft. There really are no short cuts--no free lunch when it comes to writing. Yes, some people have more talent than others, but writing requires a good deal of self-discipline.

What is the first book you remember reading?

There were so many! One of my early favorites was Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. I was very inspired by that book as a child.

What common qualities do you find in the personalities of published authors?

For the most part, they are intelligent, hard-working individuals with sharp insights into the human condition.

How do you know if you have a seemingly “stupid” book premise that is doomed to fail versus one that will fly high?

In my case, I start writing. When I finish, I put the work away and don’t look at it again for several months. When I pull it out again, I’m looking at it with fresh eyes, critically. I can tell then whether what I’ve written deserves to be placed in the garbage or is good enough to get an edit.

What is the theme of your latest book?

THE DROWNING POOL is a murder mystery with romantic overtones. The two main characters from THE INFERNO COLLECTION are back sleuthing in the new novel with a new mystery to solve.There is a further romantic involvement between Kim Reynolds, academic librarian with some psychic ability, and Mike Gardner, police detective with a deep insight into people. Mike does a majority of the detective work in this novel as opposed to Kim who is the main protagonist in THE INFERNO COLLECTION. But in both novels, it’s Kim who actually solves the crimes. The harm people inflict on one another is one key theme. There is a secondary theme of political corruption on the local level.

At what point did you stop juggling suggestions and critiques and trust yourself (as a writer)?

I do take criticisms to heart. I’m not as self-confident as I wish I were. But I’m fortunate in having family and friends who are encouraging and who respect my work. I’m committed to writing quality fiction. It’s what I do, what I care about. I also realize that someone who criticizes is just one individual offering one opinion. I have to be true to my own vision.

Are takeaway messages (in your book) important to you?

I don’t believe in preaching or beating readers over the head with messages. I believe that good novel writing is entertainment first. However, I do try to deal with deeper ideas. I don’t write frivolous fiction. So although my novels have some humor, they’re also serious books, literary romantic suspense.

When do you know you’ve got the finished product and it’s your best effort?

I rewrite relentlessly. But there does come a point when I realize that the novel is as good as it’s going to be. Five Star/Gale provides really good editors as well and that’s a big help.

Any anecdotes about the research or writing of your books?

My novels always start with real life incidents. I originally got my inspiration to write a mystery novel with an academic librarian as amateur sleuth during the time of my library studies at Rutgers University. Completing my MLS degree, I was required to attend symposiums. One speaker was a Princeton University librarian who spoke on the subject of inferno collections. His lecture was so fascinating and vivid that I was inspired to do further research. I became convinced that the concept of inferno collections would be an excellent frame for a mystery novel. With THE DROWNING POOL, my husband and I have been members of a number of swim clubs over the years where we’ve met lots of interesting people. My mind is always asking the question: what if?

How would you pitch this book to your intended audience?

I would say that anyone who enjoys an exciting mystery with well-developed characters would like reading this novel. I would also say that romance readers will enjoy this novel, especially those who appreciate romantic suspense. I like to offer a strong plot with real characters and a strong element of romance. I hope a diversity of people will buy this novel, or ask their library to order it so that it can be enjoyed by many readers.

You can find out more about me and the novel by reading my Breakthrough article in the February 2009 issue of THE WRITER Magazine, p. 14.


  1. Great Q and A -- good solid questions to ask of an author and your answers were insightful. Enjoyed the interview and will have to go find the Writer article. Thanks for sharing and I now want to know more about the Inferno Collection.

  2. Jacqueline,

    Terrific interview!

    I love the fact that you start with something real to build your fiction.


  3. I admire writers who are willing to claim struggle and even failure as part of their eventual success. It's like a heroine with flaws. It makes that writer more real. Jacqueline Seewald allows us to see the foibles as well as the triumphs. Good interview.

    Sharon Ervin

  4. Most interesting interview. Thanks to both of you for doing it. Books sound very interesting!

  5. Enjoyd reading rhe comments. I am always lookng for different authors to read. The book sounds good and I have added it to my TBR list for summer reading.
    JWIsley AT

  6. Good interview have a real flair with words and you are so right...if we really think about it, there are a lot of stories to be found in every day living and life. Going now to see if I can find you article in The Writer Magazine.

  7. What a wonderful interview. I feel as if we were conversing in my living room. I like your approach to writing, to get the story told, let it percolate, then decide if its worthy of editing.

    Your premise for this book intrigues me. I have had nightmares for years about drowning. I was the oldest of my peers to learn to swim for that very reason. I'm no longer afraid of the water, but drowning still hovers at the edges of my consciousness.

    put me in the drawing for your book.
    maggietoussaint at darientel dot net

  8. I don't know that I would be as disciplined as to write a first draft, then put it away for several months! I find myself editing a lot as I go along.

  9. I have nightmares occasuinally about drowning too, although I'm not afraid of water.

  10. Mystery and romance my favorite combination. Going to have to read the Inferno Series.

  11. A wonderful interview. You made so many comments that are dear to my heart. As writers, we do love words and yours are worth reading.

    Bety Gordon

  12. Thank you for this interview. I agree that mystery or fiction writers must persuade without indulging in preaching. Most convincing is a nuanced approach that demonstrates the complexities of human nature when exploring difficult policy or moral issues.

  13. Very nice interview. So nice to get to know more about you and your books.

    Had to laugh when you mentioned getting the idea for your protagonist while attending a symposium. When I was taking Clinical Pastoral Education, I was attending a seminar on death and dying and one of the speakers was a psychologist and Hospice Chaplain. He mentioned that he will encourage hospice patients to talk to death as if he (or she) was a a real person. Set out a chair and invite death in -- or not. I found that so intriging I spent the rest of the seminar writing a stageplay with death as a prominent character.

    Just goes to show us not to pass up an idea. :-)

  14. Nice to read how you turn reality into fiction. I enjoyed meeting you here, and the books sounds great - lovely titles and cover too.

  15. I agree, great title and cover! Thanks for the interview :)

  16. I want to thank everyone who commented on this interview. You are all wonderfully supportive!
    I wish I could offer all of you a hardcover copy of my novel.

    The random choice of a winner for the hardcover copy of THE DROWNING POOL is Gina Holmes.

    For everyone else, please request the novel at your local library, and I do hope you enjoy it!

  17. Enjoyed the interview. I know it's hard to put that book away for a few months without continually tinkering with it -- a discipline I'm trying to master.

    Best wishes as your book goes to market!corte

  18. Since Gina had a conflict of interest, a new winner of a hardcover copy of THE DROWNING POOL was chosen at random. The new winner is Katie Hines.

    Thanks for all your wonderful comments!



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