Q: When did you decide to write your book?
The idea for Ghost Mark struck when I was writing the first book in the Dark Dreams series. I knew there was more than one book right away because the concept of a woman who can see into the past has so many possibilities. I also loved the characters and how they played off of one another. That makes writing their stories a lot of fun.
Q: What inspired you to create your novel, Ghost Mark?
The initial inspiration came from the opening scene in an NBC TV show called Blind Spot. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_HnJbKP9JMQ. That scene depicted a bomb squad tech approaching an abandoned duffle bag in Times Square. It’s nighttime, and the square has been cleared of people. The bomb tech is taken aback when the duffle bag’s zipper starts unzipping from inside the bag. A woman (Jaimie Alexander) emerges, and she’s covered in tattoos from the neck down. The woman doesn’t remember who she is or how she got the tattoos. I wondered what it might be like to have to live with markings that weren’t of your choosing. That was the seed that inspired the book, and I developed it from there.
Q: How many books do plan for this series?
I’m currently writing the third book in the series. There is room for more, but I couldn’t say how many. I’ve learned from my first one-off, trilogy, series to not hem myself in with a final number.
Q: How would describe your writing style?
I’d say it’s descriptive in that I try to create an image in the reader’s mind to tell the story. The image might be a setting, or a character, or an action scene. I use as many of the senses as I can, and play off of objects and places familiar to most readers, like laptops and libraries and coffee shops. I write dialogue that’s true to the characters and times, and pay attention to the character’s motivations to ensure their actions make sense in context to their history.
Q: What was the journey like for you as you were writing, editing, and publishing your works?
When I look back at my writing career, I’m reminded of how naïve I was going in. I just wanted a challenge, something to fill the rainy winter days on Canada’s west coast. I never imagined how much work would be involved after I typed “the end.” Unlike most of my friends, I didn’t have a smart phone or any social media accounts. I feel like writing has dragged me into the twenty-first century kicking and screaming. Thankfully, despite the rough ride, I still love writing. I’m energized when I sit down at the laptop and that’s what gets me through the more difficult side of the business.
Q: Can you tell us, readers, what your main characters are like?
Jane and Sadie are from the wrong side of the tracks. They met as young teens and were raised in the social welfare system, where they learned they had to fight for what they wanted. They become fierce friends, watching each other’s backs. As a result, they’re gritty and resourceful. They are physically fit, and Jane wields a knife with skill. They are also opposites in terms of their personalities, which is a lot of fun to play with. Where Jane is neat, Sadie is messy. Where Jane is careful with money, Sadie is a spendthrift. It’s a great source of humour and tension.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers in your genre?
I’d say to write what you love because writing a novel takes a long time, and then there are the rewrites and the edits. You have to be prepared to spend a lot of time with the characters and the story. That’s a lot easier to do when you love what you write.
Q: Would you ever write books in any other genre?
I’ve considered writing in the comedy genre, and even have some notes for story ideas. But I’m not there yet—I still have too many supernatural thrillers in my head.
Q: What were your favorite moments as a writer when working on your book?
Milestones, I suppose. Finishing a first draft, finishing an edit, holding your new book for the first time. But I’ve learned to celebrate the small wins as well, so I’ll reward myself with a glass of bubbly when I get a particularly good review, or when I finish writing a tough scene. With the Dark Dreams series, one of the best moments came after I’d shared some of the plot issues I was experiencing with my critique partners. They came up with the perfect solution. It put the whole series on a more solid footing. Their advice supercharged my writing.
Q: Where can readers find you and your books?
There is a bookstore tab on my website with links to all the retailers: jpmcleanauthor.com.