GB: When did you first start writing? Tell us about how you figured out you were a storyteller.
JC: It was so long ago that I cannot even remember writing the first story that I wrote for other people. My mother tells me I was five and it was called “The Peanut with Measles.” Even back then, I wrote dark stories…she tells me the story didn’t have a happy ending.
I knew pretty much from a young age that I wanted to tell stories. I wrote stories just to entertain me and my friends. Things like role-playing adventures, or making up stories for my teachers when we were supposed to be keeping journals (I already did that but didn’t want to share them with the school—too many secrets). My father served 20 years in the US Navy, and I lived in places from West Coast to the East Coast and in Europe. I experienced so many different cultures that these stories just popped up in my imagination. And then it helped that we spent three years in Iceland—a place where the majority of people believed in elves, and they have this incredible literary history in the Icelandic Sagas…tales of love, adventure, betrayal, murder, monsters, loyalty. I remember traveling the country and imagining all these wonderful stories that took place across the land. Then I spent three months in Germany with my maternal grandparents. They took us to Frankenstein’s castle, to the walled city of Rothenberg, to the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt, and here again I imagined what might have happened in all these magical places. When I graduated high school, the prophecy that was written about me was that I would be writing books in a castle in Ireland. Haven’t been yet, but I plan to. Everyone has always known I would tell stories.GB: Where do you get your inspiration?
JC: Where? I cannot tell you one specific place. Almost everywhere. Each morning, I send my son a word of the day along with random facts and historical events that occurred on that day. I have a new idea for a story about a man who wouldn’t did from one of the articles I sent him. My western serial “Field of Strong Men” came to me on a drive through southeast Kansas when I wondered to myself if there were any other cowtowns in Kansas beside Wichita and Dodge City…turns out there is a whole history of the different towns that served as the destination for cattle drives up from Texas to catch trains back east.
The idea for my debut novel Silence in the Garden first popped into my head when some friends and I would go up to Eureka Springs nearly every weekend just to soak in the vibes from all the artists and history there. Then the mother of one friend became the manager of the Crescent Hotel. We would wonder through the halls looking for ghosts. My next novel, Venus:One, got its spark when talking with a friend of mine that has his Ph.D. in Biochemistry about the feasibility that humans could be the result of generations of genetic experimentation. So, I guess my inspiration can come from anywhere and anytime…I just need to recognize it for its potential to be a story.GB: For you, what is the hardest thing about writing? What is the most rewarding?
JC:The hardest part is finishing. Definitely setting down the pen or pushing the keyboard away and telling myself that it is time to wrap it up. Every time I read something of mine, I inevitably want to edit and change it. There is a quote attributed to Leonardo Da Vinci: Art is never finished, only abandoned.
The most rewarding? Having someone say that my work inspired them, whether it was the characters, the plot, or just one tiny thing among the words.GB: Silence in the Garden is, at least in part, based on real historical events, although with a paranormal twist. How much time did you put into researching the actual events you describe in the story?
JC:As I said earlier…the inspiration came to ma a long time ago. So, I have been reading about the Crescent Hotel and Eureka Springs for over twenty years. But the funny thing about the research is that I started writing the story before I did a single bit of digging. When I went back to connect it to the history of the place, I learned that a lot of what I had written was pretty close to the actual events. Maybe something was whispering in my ear?GB: Like what?
JC: Richard Thompson, the president of the Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women owned the lakeside resort the school goes to in the book. I wrote the scene in the story, and discovered when I went down to visit it that he used to own it. Those kinds of things strike me as more than coincidence.GB: Do you have a preferred time and/or place to write?
JC:I actually prefer writing at night…late, when the world is quiet. I am easily distracted…if the world is asleep and dreaming, I can work. But that make me very tired most mornings when I get up at 6:00.GB: What do you do when you get stuck or hit a writer’s block? Do you have a favorite way of jarring the ideas loose?
JC: If I get stuck on a particular project, I like to work on another. Never stop writing. Something is bound to pop out.
Free writing and association is one of the methods I will use to oil up the cogs in the old brain pan. Just keep writing…you can always come back to edit.GB: You definitely left some openings in SITG for a sequel, especially centered around the character of Lionel Peterson – you very much give the impression that he is involved in activities far beyond what happened in this book. Are you considering turning this into the first of a series?
JC: Not originally…but when I realized Peterson had a history outside the constraints of this story, it actually became an idea for an origin story…another historical event.GB:Tell us about your next project.
JC: I am working on more than one right now. My next deadline is June 8, when I am to have a story turned in for an anthology. I am also working on my first Lonford Universe novel, Venus:One. It goes back to that idea I had talking to a friend of mine: what happens when humans find out they are the result of a genetic experiment? Then I expanded on that and thought, what would be the social and economic impact of terra-forming Venus and making the planet Earth’s twin in more than just name?GB: Anything else you’d like us to know?
JC: Just thank you, and I hope you enjoy Silence in the Garden. Don’t be afraid to contact me on my Facebook author page or on my website that is currently being built if you have any questions or just want to chat about it.