J. S. Bailey is a lifelong resident of Clermont County who attended St. Louis School and Clermont Northeastern High School. She is the author of Rage’s Echo, The Land Beyond the Portal, Weary Traveler, and Vapors. Her stories can best be described as supernatural suspense fiction written from a Christian viewpoint.
I, recently interviewed J.S. Bailey by email:
1. When did you first know that you had to write?
That I HAD to write? Tough question. I started “writing” when I was about five years old. In the beginning I made picture books that I illustrated myself. I was about fourteen when I made my first attempts at writing a novel. That was eleven years ago, so I have no memory as to what inspired me to sit down and actually write something substantial. I was in college when I made the conscious decision to choose writing as my career. (I majored in Entrepreneurship, not writing, but that’s a whole ‘nother story!) Writing gives me a satisfaction that I’ve never felt while doing anything else.
2. Who or what inspires your writing?
Ooh, another tough question! For me, inspiration can come from anywhere, and I mean that quite literally. My short story Weary Traveler was inspired by a hike at Rowe Woods. Vapors was inspired by me flipping through a book about the early church fathers. Rage’s Echo was inspired by my inner demons and my love of ghost stories.
I also find inspiration in my fellow writers. Two of my favorite authors are Ted Dekker and Dean Koontz. They both write suspenseful stories in which the characters grapple with some kind of moral issue. Koontz’s books tend to center around ethical dilemmas such as euthanasia and scientific experimentation, and Dekker’s books usually deal with faith, philosophy, and learning to find oneself in Christ.
Both authors’ stories provide their readers with food for thought, and it is my desire to do the same with my writing. I don’t write solely to entertain. It is my desire to touch readers’ hearts as well and to make them open their eyes and see things a little differently than they did before.
3. For the writers out there – would you be willing to share one of your tips for dealing with writer’s block?
Ah. The dreaded Writer’s Block. (Yes, that needs to be capitalized.) Some authors will tell you that Writer’s Block does not exist. Instead, they call it Fear. Your writing comes to a standstill because you’re insecure about your ability to write.
Whenever I come to a block, it is because I do not know how to proceed with my story. The best advice I have for situations like this is to set your work aside for awhile. Try writing something else. And if you can’t think of something else, just start writing. Anything. Start off with one sentence. Then write another and another. I’ve written a few short stories that way. It helps get the creative juices flowing again.
Sometimes, however, you really do need to take a short break from your writing. Go for a walk. Take a shower. Watch a movie. Read a book. Just don’t sit and stare blankly at your computer screen waiting for a lightning bolt of inspiration to strike you. (Because it isn’t going to happen.)
4. What advice do you have for beginning writers?
LEARN THE CRAFT. You don’t necessarily have to take a course on creative writing, but you do have to learn how to properly craft a story. There are many books and online resources dedicated to the craft of writing. You’ll learn about characterization, story arcs, plot structure, how to “show” versus “tell,” and so on. Writing well is so much more than just putting words down on the page. The words have to mean something and convey the story in a way that your readers will understand.
KEEP WRITING. Yes, you do still need to put words down on the page. Practice, practice, practice! If you only lift weights once a month, you aren’t going to develop strong muscles, and likewise if you only write once a month, you’ll never improve your craft. I try to write six days a week. I still make mistakes, and so will you. Making mistakes is how we learn. The more you write, the fewer mistakes you will make. A wise author (cough cough Ted Dekker cough cough) once said that writers must write a million words before they fully develop their skill and are able to be published. Have you written a million words yet? No? KEEP WRITING.
SEEK CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM. It’s important to have someone else take a look at your work and offer feedback on what is or is not working in your writing. This could be a fellow writer, a teacher, or an avid reader who has an eye for detail. Don’t be offended when they tell you that there’s room for improvement. Do not assume that your writing is perfect. It takes years to develop a skill. The most important thing for you to do is keep at it.
And did I mention that you should keep writing?
And be sure to reserve your spot for J.S. Bailey’s visit on February 19th at 1:00 pm at the Amelia Library. Register online from our website or call the Amelia library at 752-5580.
Checkout the library catalog for J.S. Bailey’s books: