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INTERVIEW: Gwynne Jackson Says Women Do Not Become Disposable as We Age


Welcome to the Tuesday Author Interview with Christina Boyd for the Who, What, When, Where, and Why.


I started following the hashtag #FridayKiss on Twitter about eighteen months ago. The idea: post a snippet from your work-in-progress according to the prompt. On Friday. Not long after, I learned it was managed by author Gwynne Jackson, also writing as Ophelia Leigh.

CHRISTINA: When did you first think you had a book to write and how did you start? 


GWYNNE: I wrote and illustrated my first book in sixth grade during spare time in class. The story featured a family of tomatoes who lived on their own island in the tropics. My teacher read every single one of those stories and urged me to keep writing. Long since lost to the annals of history, the story of The Tomatoes (and Mrs. A’s unwavering support) gave me the writing bug. I haven’t managed to shake it yet. Unsurprisingly, I’m still writing about sentient food.

 

CHRISTINA: Sentient food! Ha, too funny.


Why did you choose the publishing path you chose: self-publish vs. traditional?


GWYNNE: I’m traditionally published with short works and self-published with novels. I’ve got an agent I adore, but the books I write tend to straddle genres or push the edges and those are tough sells in the traditional market. I made the leap to self-publishing with my Cosmic Coffee series (say hello, sentient food), and I’m currently self-publishing a four-book contemporary romance series.

 

I’m the first to confess that I’m terrible at the business end of things; I just want to write the books. That’s why traditional publishing still sounds tempting. I’d love to have someone else help with the marketing and strategizing. But there is great freedom in being able to acknowledge, hey, this book is good! It deserves to be out there, and while nothing is universally loved, I know there are people who will enjoy it.

My publishing philosophy: there’s a book for every reader, and a reader for every book.

 

CHRISTINA: Yuck to the business aspect. I hear ya. Yuck to accounting and bookkeeping.


Is there one of your characters you most identify with and why? 


book cover
All Songs are Love Songs (Can't Help It Book 1). Published December 25, 2023

GWYNNE: In my book currently on submission, there’s a character named Destiny. Like me, she’s older. She grew up with a more bohemian lifestyle than her peers, had less money, and always befriended the outcasts and the unpopular. I certainly infused Des with a lot of myself: she’s artistic, sensitive, creative, shy, and her natural inclination is to take care of people. She’s much more innovative at baking than I am, and more in tune with the unseen world around us—which is why she ends up living in a ghost town.

 

I wrote her because it’s important to me to show that women of all ages are still the star of their own personal movies. That we don’t become disposable as we get older. That women at all stages bring so much to this world.

 

CHRISTINA: She sounds like an incredible character. Well done, you.


If you could tell your 21-year-old self anything, what would you share?


GWYNNE: It’s not all about pleasing other people; pride comes from within. Do the things you need to do to get by, but don’t let those things squash your dreams. Always listen to your heart. And most importantly: drop out of college and take that pro road crew job—life will be much more of an adventure that way.

 

CHRISTINA: What do you think makes a good story?


GWYNNE: Human relationships and peeling back the layers on emotions! If the author feels what’s going on as the book is written, I’ll feel it when I read their words. I get most invested in a story when the emotions are difficult and the personal stakes are high.

 




CHRISTINA: Oh yes, the pages almost turn themself.


Best advice for new writers:


GWYNNE: Find your community. Writing is a solitary pursuit, but humans are social creatures. Find people who’ll support you along the way. Take however long you need to find your critique partners. Don’t be afraid to write your stories the way you want to write them. Learn to take feedback as something constructive rather than as condemnation. Always let feedback sit for at least a few days before responding to it. Edit everything. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help.

 

CHRISTINA: So much good advice there. Thank you. Your Kiss Pitch Mentorship Program is wonderful.


Do you hide any secrets in your novels only a select few might know?


GWNEYN: Well, sure, I think we all do that. There’s a bit of validity in the whole “write what you know” maxim, but that needs to be peppered with “write what you can imagine.” The secrets hidden in my stories are not there as mysteries to be solved, but as small hints about who I really am and what matters to me. 

 

CHRISTINA: "Small hints about who I really am and what matters to me." That's beautiful.


What’s your favorite thing about being a writer?


GWYNNE: Paying it forward! I run Kiss Pitch, a mentorship program for romance and women’s fiction writers. It’s a great way to help share the wealth of knowledge in the writing community.


CHRISTINA: Thank you for paying it forward as you do. Best wishes on your next project. Can't wait to hear all about.


smiling white woman with shoulder length salt-pepper hair
Gwynne Jackson, author

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gwynne Jackson (also writing as Ophelia Leigh) writes across multiple genres, with a focus on romance and women’s fiction. Her books explore the nature of love, human interactions, and found family. She loves writing complex, unapologetic characters in complex, unapologetic settings where the stakes are high and the payoff proves to be worth all the angst.


She’s the one who provides your #FridayKiss prompts and designed the current Kiss Pitch mentoring program. She lives on an island in Puget Sound with her family, pets, and a band of local otters whose hijinks are endlessly amusing. Like all good Northwesterners, she knows too many ways to describe the rain.

 

You can connect with Gwynne via Linktr.ee.

 

2 Comments


I appreciated reading Jackson's perspective on going hybrid (both trad and self-published). Fascinating!

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Me too! Thanks for stopping by.

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