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INTERVIEW: J. Dawn King Began Writing Career After Suffering Two Strokes


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


I first met J Dawn King way back in 2014 when I read her debut, A Father's Sins: A Pride and Prejudice Variation. Later, she asked me about the cover of another book (or maybe it was that book) and I bluntly said that it looked too do-it-yourself, and the Darcy character looked like a leprechaun plunked in the middle of a field. I'd like to say that I've learned to deliver my opinions with more finesse, but that would be a lie. Today, looking at Joy's long backlist of bestsellers with lovely covers, I gotta say, "You've come a long way, lady."


CHRISTINA: Have you always wanted to be a writer?


JOY: Not at all. From an early age I loved books. To me, the authors who captured my imagination were elevated to the pinnacle of awesomeness. Books, especially action stories, allowed me to escape my small-town existence, at least in my dreams. They gave me permission to think big. As an adult married to a sea-going man, our life has been filled with one grand adventure after another. I’ve always wanted to be a reader. Being an author seemed out of reach.


CHRISTINA: I understand that you are currently working on your twenty-seventh novel. What was it that moved you to go from reader to author?


Regency era couple on book cover
A Father's Sins by J Dawn King. Published March 2014

JOY: In 2008, I had two strokes, one of which affected my memory. In early 2014, an internist suggested that I use writing to stimulate my brain. Interestingly, the day prior (I’ll never forget as it was January 21, 2014), I thought of a story that I wished Jan Hahn (author of one of my absolute favorite JAFF stories, The Journey) would write. I even researched how I could contact her through Meryton Press so I could send her my plot. The next day when the doctor gave me his diagnosis, I sat down at my laptop and typed. Two months later, on March 21, 2014, I published A Father’s Sins as an eBook. The kind reception of my fledgling story and the encouragement of Janet Taylor of Meryton Press kept me writing.


CHRISTINA: I. Had. No. Idea. After all this time, I had no idea that you were recovering from strokes. Knowing that, your backlist is even more impressive!


If you were to revise any of your books, which would you choose and why?


JOY: The longer I write the more I learn about the craft of writing. I would revise all of them except Field of Dreams. Because of its connection to my mom, who died as I was writing it, I

can’t touch it ever.


CHRISTINA: Yes, I remember you saying that you had written that novel while your mom was ill. I'm so glad the book has been received well too.


What is your best advice for new writers?


JOY: I love this question so thank you for asking.


1. Look at what successful authors in the genre are doing then take this and make it your own. Search the top fifty books in the genre to see a trend in cover design, blurb content (you will note that authors in the top ten have a strong hook in their first sentence), and tag lines. According to experts, an author has less than thirty seconds to impress a reader to “buy with one click.” The best way to do this is with a cover that is representative of your genre’s current market along with a brilliant tag line.


2. Find your ideal reader. This way your advertising becomes visible. For example, if most of your readers are 65+ female readers, would they likely be on TikTok? If they are 18 and under, would they be on Facebook? You want to make your ads and posts count so go where your readers are.

Field of Dream book on bookshelf
Autographed copy of FIELD OF DREAMS on my shelves

3. Please, please, please have your story professionally edited. I’ll admit that it’s a fearful thing to get a manuscript back from your first book that is bleeding red ink. Nonetheless, having an objective individual who is pulling for you and wanting to make your story the best that it can has been a confidence builder for me. What is published by you represents you for as long as your book is out in the world. Make it sparkle.


4. Watch out for FOMO (fear of missing out). Before you venture into audiobooks or translations into foreign markets, ask an author known to you if the investment is worth it before investing large sums of money.


5. Don’t wait until you are in your mid-50s like I did before writing. How I wished I’d started earlier.


CHRISTINA: Smart advice. Thank you. You have accomplished a lot in the decade since hitting the publishing scene, figuring out who your reader is and how to get a good story into their hands. You certainly have taken all you have learned and created a wonderful body of work. Well done! And your willingness to share your experience to other authors is a gift.


What are you reading now?


JOY: I am an alpha reader and head cheerleader for my daughter, Jennifer Joy, and for Nicole Clarkston/Alix James/Tess Thornton. These two ladies have completely different writing processes, are sticklers for detail, and make me swoon quite regularly. With every word, you can see their love for Jane Austen’s characters shining through. They inspire me to keep writing.


CHRISTINA: What a treasure to have such generous and knowledgeable support. Makes you a stronger writer and savvier businesswoman too.


What is your current project?


JOY: I am slightly more than halfway through my next full-length project entitled, Windswept. As documented in Daniel Defoe’s non-fiction book The Storm, in 1703, a hurricane hovered over England for five full days, causing unbelievable loss. I moved the storm up a century to 1811 when the Bingleys and Mr. Darcy were at Netherfield Park. Despite the mountains of research, I am thoroughly enjoying the tale.


CHRISTINA: Knowing the research for River of Dreams, I can imagine this latest is impressive.


What do you have planned after Windswept?


JOY: I fully expect this to be my final Jane Austen Fan Fiction (although I may change my mind.) I’ve always wanted to write stories about the Oregon Trail. I’ll be sixty-eight years old later this year, so I’d better not keep putting it off. I don’t know, maybe I could make Darcy the wagon train trail boss as he guides the Bennets and the rest of the characters from Pride & Prejudice to my home state of Oregon. Would this work? Actually, hmmm. Now that I think of it…


CHRISTINA: Ha! I don't believe that this will be your last Jane Austen fan fiction. A story will pop into your head, and you won't be able to stop yourself. But I do hope you make time to write your Oregon Trail stories.


Many thanks for taking time out of your writing for this interview. Now, back to writing!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

J “Joy” Dawn King, who also writes short stories as Christie Capps, fell in love with Jane Austen’s writings in 2012 and discovered the world of fan fiction shortly after. Intrigued by the many possibilities, she began developing her own ideas for Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet.

Joy has written eleven Pride & Prejudice variations and two mini-biographies in the “When Men Were Boys” series as J Dawn King. She also has twelve Christie Capps Pride & Prejudice tales published individually and as boxed sets. One work, her first novel, has been translated into Spanish as Los Pecados del Padre.


At the time she wrote her first book, A Father’s Sins, she was living high in the Andes Mountains of South America. In late 2014, the Kings relocated to Oregon where other stories popped into her head. She is typing as fast as she can to keep up. You can connect with Joy via her website.

11 comments

11 Comments


Guest
Mar 22

Now I really want to see this leprechaun!

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Replying to

Forgive me for mentioning it in this interview, but your covers are so amazing now that I thought it an excellent example of your growth as an author.

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Thank you so much for the interview, Christina. Your questions are excellent. This made it so much easier for me. Absolute best wishes to you and yours.

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This is very educational and inspiring to hear Joy's writing journey. Thank you so much for sharing. I'm looking forward to Windswept very much.

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Replying to

Thank you, Anna. I'm writing as quickly as I can.

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Thank you so much for sharing J. Dawn King's amazing story and advice!

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Guest
Mar 20
Replying to

You’ve got this.

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