Interview by Nicole Melanson ~
Jassy Mackenzie is a writer of thrillers and erotic romances (under the name Jassy de Jong). She lives in South Africa, where most of her books are based. Her novels include the thriller series Random Violence, Stolen Lives, The Fallen and Pale Horses, as well as the standalone erotic romance Drowning. Humorous erotic romances Folly and Switch, featuring the reluctant dominatrix Emma Caine, are launching in March 2015. Jassy lives with her partner, Dion, in the countryside outside Johannesburg. She often wonders how all these books got written, since she has a day job and spends most of her free time riding her horse, cooking, browsing online shopping sites, and entertaining her two cats.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED AS A WRITER?
I think if you’re a writer, you’re compelled to tell stories. I’ve always wanted to write books, but I was very bad at getting past the first three chapters. It took me years to figure out how to outrun the self-doubt and actually finish a book.
WHAT IS YOUR LATEST BOOK OR CURRENT PROJECT?
I am incredibly excited about Folly and Switch, which are launching in March 2015 in the USA. They are the two books that I’ve enjoyed writing more than any other because they are such fun, so naughty, and also include a love story (I adore writing romances). The heroine, Emma Caine, is in her mid-thirties, and in a dire financial predicament thanks to losing her job and keeping her husband in an expensive care home after he’s been profoundly brain-damaged in a car crash. She sets herself up as a dominatrix in a desperate attempt to make ends meet, without much of a clue what she’s doing. During the course of her misadventures, which often end up being quite funny, she meets an amazing man…but, of course, she can’t allow herself to fall in love with him – or can she?
WHAT IS YOUR WORK ENVIRONMENT LIKE?
My work environment is wherever I am. I have a study where I do my day job work (editing a magazine), with an extremely messy desk that is usually covered by a large sleeping cat. I sometimes do my writing here, although it’s difficult to resist the temptation of going online. Sometimes I work on my laptop, lying in bed, although that means I have to resist the temptation of having a nap. Really, writing is all about resisting temptation!
WHEN DO YOU WORK? WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE?
I like to write in the morning, if I can, because I find it easier to put my first energy of the day into the creative process. But it’s not always possible. Mostly, I write when and where I can. Some of my most productive writing sessions have been on airplanes, because I’m trapped in a seat, can’t get up and go to the fridge, can’t go online, and need to do something to distract myself from the certainty that the plane is going to crash and we are all going to die.
WHAT IS YOUR WRITING PROCESS?
Chaotic. I don’t plan. I wish I could, but for me, it kills the story – if I write it down in a plan, my brain thinks it’s done. So I try to think only a few days in advance, although I usually have an idea of what the ending is going to be. And I try to get myself very excited about that day’s writing session and to find something in the story that I can’t wait to get down on (virtual) paper.
WHY DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO?
Because all writers want to tell stories. It’s a challenge to take a thought that’s banging around in your brain and translate it into an actual novel that will entertain people, but it’s somehow a very satisfying process as well.
WHO OR WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
I draw a lot of inspiration from the characters I create, especially in the romances. I identify with all of them because I know from experience that true love is so difficult to find, and it’s often a rocky path to get to it. And plotwise, I am always intrigued by news and current events, and will try to work fascinating stories together to make a plot. I get a lot of my ideas from reading online, and paging through newspapers.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST PART OF WHAT YOU DO?
Just doing it. Writing isn’t easy. The journey is fraught with complications. Boulders of self-doubt regularly block the path, and a plot you thought was wonderful can suddenly, within a day, seem implausible. If I’m working on a story it simmers in the back of my mind all the time, and it can be very distracting. Writing seems to use the same part of my brain as navigating does, so when I’m in the middle of a book, I’m extremely likely to get lost or take the wrong road when I’m driving anywhere.
WHAT IS YOUR VISION AS A WORD ARTIST OR BOOK INDUSTRY PROFESSIONAL?
I really wish more people would be passionate about books and reading, and try to raise their children as booklovers. There is so much wisdom in books, and so many benefits to be had from reading. You just can’t get the same insights from playing X-Box games!
WHICH FEMALE AUTHORS WOULD YOU LOVE TO HEAR MORE FROM OR SEE INTERVIEWED ON WORDMOTHERS NEXT?
Internationally, I adore Lisa Gardner, and luckily for me, she has a new book out, which I can’t wait to read. Locally, I am looking forward to new books from Fiona Snyckers, Kate White and Henrietta Rose-Innes, who are all incredible writers.
Thank you, Jassy Mackenzie / Jassy de Jong!
— Nicole Melanson
* Author photo by Conrad de Jong
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