Exclusive Interview with
Jessica Marie Baumgartner
When did you start writing?
I began professionally writing 11 years ago back in 2011.
What makes writing your passion?
Being able to connect to people on a personal level.
How long have you been writing?
I've been writing since I could hold a pen. It's been a lifelong love.
What was the feeling when you published your first book?
A whirlwind of hope. I wanted to help people and ensure that my work spoke for itself.
What’s the story behind your choice of characters?
Nonfiction is a funny world. Even though the story has already happened, a writer still has to shape a proper timeline in an accurate manner that still keeps readers' interests.
For me, I guess the best inspiration to do that are stories of real-life people overcoming serious obstacles.
What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?
The lack of marketing support in the industry. Even larger publishers expect authors to be public figures nowadays. If I wanted to be a celebrity, I would have gotten into acting.
How do you get over the “writer’s block”?
I've never had it so I guess we'll never know.
We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?
My husband and children won't let me give up even when I try. It's a tough job full of uncertainty, but I'm a full time writer and it's all I'm really good at.
I'd like to tell all new authors that publishing is hell, but you have to go through hell to find heaven. Don't just keep at it, keep learning, and look out for the vampires.
If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?
USE A PEN NAME!
I had no idea that I would get divorced when I started writing. I wrote so much under my former married name that it has become my unchosen pen name, and I can't shake it.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?
Always. I can't not read my book reviews. As a serious author who wishes to improve her craft I have to take the criticisms with the praise. There is always room for improvement and listening to my audience is more important to me than any other aspect of my career.
What is the feeling when you get a good review?
Compete joy sprinkled with a hint of vindication.
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
Being that I write mostly nonfiction, yes! But even my fiction ends up with some flavors of real-life. As the say, "write what you know."
Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?
In my story Vocal Roots, which was published in All Things Strange & Weird, I drew from my experiences as a singer and my fear of losing my hearing.
What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?
Of course. Sure, we can say, "Don't judge a book by its cover," but visual representations say a lot. Poorly formatted book covers indicate that the writing and editing will be less professional, just as covers that are properly designed and draw the eye are more likely to hold better material. This is not always true, but having worked with some small indie publishers all the way up to the big ones there is definitely a difference in cover quality and it often correlates to content.
Do you connect with your readers? Do you mind having a chat with them or you prefer to express yourself through your writing?
I love responding to readers. I do not support big tech or platforms that censor political views based on bias so I'm on the smaller sites like Tumblr and Minds.com, and I run my own website.
How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?
It's a little overwhelming. Kind of embarrassing. I've had teenage readers come to my book signings and gush over me and it was hard to convince them that I'm just a person who does a job like anyone else.
Who is your favorite author? Why?
Living: Richard Smyth. He is brilliant, doesn't preach but gets his point across and has a good sense of humor.
Dead: That's tougher. Probably Sybil Leek, because her works was so conversational. Instead of reading her books I always feel as if she's just sitting down talking to me. Joy Adamson is a close second though. The Born Free series ruled my childhood.
What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?
The dream is to keep supporting myself off of my writing and someday finally have a #1 worldwide bestseller of my own. My work has been featured in bestselling anthologies, but none of my single titles have hit that #1 slot yet. #YET
Would you rewrite any of your books? Why?
YES! The Embracing Entropy Series was such a fun project and I loved it so dearly. I already re-wrote the 1st book of it, "By the Stars," and had it re-printed in bards & Sages' Best Indie Speculative Fiction of 2019.
If you could switch places with any author – who would that be?
None. It would be too weird.
What would you say to the “trolls” on the internet? We all know them – people who like to write awful reviews to books they’ve never read or didn’t like that much, just to annoy the author.
That I hope they enjoy all their successes, if they ever meet any and stop messing with people to feel better about themselves.
What would you say to your readers?
Thank you. All day, everyday you guys make it worthwhile.
Share a bit about yourself – where do you live, are you married, do you have kids?
The fam and I moved just outside of St. Louis a few years ago. It was hard to hop across the river but we have a nice little piece of land where I can tend my veggie garden, and care for my fruit trees. Although we have survived a tornado, backyard fire, and even massive flash flooding --that turned out neighborhood into a river recently-- it's been fun.
What is your day job if you have one?
I write education news for Go 2 Tutors and also technical write for a local company.
What are your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?
I love to sing, dance, write songs, play guitar, annoy my husband, go hiking, swim, chase butterflies, climb trees, teach, learn, crochet, sew, paint, bike... really anything that keeps me moving or creating.
Did you have a happy childhood?
Define happy. haha
Okay so I could get all sad about the rough times. My father was an abusive alcoholic prone to binges and my mom has brain damage. But honestly, my sister and I took care of each other and we came out strong as hell so sure. It was happy and sad and dramatic and insane all at once.
Is there a particular experience that made you start writing?
I got into publishing when my eldest daughter was about a year old because someone asked me to write about my experiences and send them to a publication. I received fan mail shortly after and have just kept writing because people ask me to.
Do you have unpublished books? What are they about?
I have at least 5 unpublished middle grade books. They're silly and sweet and completely influenced by Roald Dahl and someday I'll find the right agent/publisher for them.
What do you think should be improved in the education of our children? What do we lack?
Childhood education has become too factorized, regimented. Kids don't know how to take charge and be leaders because we shuffle them off through structured environments all day. This is one of the reasons I've kept homeschooling all these years. Giving my children hands-on-learning experiences has helped them enjoy and appreciate gaining knowledge and they even teach each other.
If you were allowed 3 wishes – what would they be?
Oh come on. Hmmm world peace? No that's too easy.
Okay I would like to be a peacock for just a day. Then go to the depths of the ocean without my head exploding. And also kiss a shark.
What is your favorite music?
Anything that makes me feel human. I love any songs that remind me of my wonders and flaws. Those pieces that just make you happy to be alive but also remorseful that you can't do everything.
Share a secret with us 🙂
I'm horrible at keeping secrets. But that's no secret. Umm... I once had a mole that started turning cancerous and my immune system kicked in and fought it, leaving a white nebula pattern on my skin. Kinda cool.