JeanToday I’m hosting one of my friends I met through Critique Circle. For those of you not familiar with CC, it’s a great online critique group. Jean Davis is one of the really neat people I had the pleasure of meeting. Not only is she a good writer, but she does a fantastic critique too!!

Jean Davis lives in West Michigan with her musical husband, two nerdy teenagers, and two attention-craving terriers.  When not ruining fictional lives from the comfort of her writing chair, she can be found devouring books, enjoying the offerings of  local breweries,  weeding her flower garden, or picking up hundreds of sticks while attempting to avoid the abundant snake population who also shares her yard. Her novel A Broken Race is available from Caffeinated Press, and her short fiction has appeared in the Brewed Awakenings II anthology, The 3288 Review, Bards and Sages Quarterly, Theian Journal, Acidic Fiction’s Corrosive Chronicles anthology, The First Line, Tales of the Talisman, and more.

ABR cover

Here’s a taste of her work:  The lights hummed overhead, a faint buzz that hurt One-fifty-two’s ears and made him feel all jittery inside. He tiptoed quiet as a rat.

Their voices grew louder. He held his breath and pressed his back against the wall

“Who’s there?” asked a girl.

One-fifty-two leapt away from the wall. He spun around, searching for the source of the voice. Then he realized that the wall wasn’t a wall at all. It was a door with a rectangular, barred window at the top. A girl with wide brown eyes watched him from inside.

Maybe she was sad, too, and needed someone to be her stuffed dog. He puffed out his chest, trying his best to look like a Jack.

Arianne had said she didn’t want to lie with a Simple. He knew he would never bite a girl, but if this girl knew he was a Simple, she might be mad. But he wasn’t a Jack or a William, and pretending to be one would be lying. The Williams said lying was bad. His mother had said so, too.

“I’m Joshua.”

The girl’s eyebrows rose. “Is that so?” She wrapped her thin fingers around a bar and pulled herself against the door.

He glanced down the hall, but found it empty. He’d lost Jack and Arianne. Maybe this girl could take him to his mother. One-fifty-two nodded. “Can I come in?”

She scowled, looking much like a William did when he was about to beat someone. Her knuckles turned white where she grasped the bars. “You’re no Jack. Get away from my damn door.”

One-fifty-two shook his head, backing away. He didn’t want to be her stuffed dog. “But I’m Joshua. Can you come out and help me?”

“Only if you have keys, and since you’re no William, you don’t have those either. You’re a good for nothing Simple!” She beat on the door with her fists. “You don’t belong down here alone. Get out.”

William was just outside the main door. He probably had keys. If William was still sleeping, One-fifty-two could grab them. “I could let you out if you’ll be nice and help me find my-”

“Nice? You want me to be nice to you?” She turned away from the door. He heard her pacing. “I’m locked up here alone, away from my sisters, waiting for a Jack that may or may not come thanks to the Wildmen. I heard about the attack, you know. A William told us so we’d be ready if we had to be.”

“The Wildmen are gone. The Jacks scared them away.”

“Good. Too bad the Jacks didn’t scare you away too.”

“Jacks don’t scare me. They’re nice.” Williams would scare him, but they only did that when he didn’t listen right or took too long to do his job.

The girl laughed. “Why would they be nice to you? You don’t give them anything. You eat their food and you get in their way. I hear all about it when they visit me.”

“The Williams eat way more food than I do. I don’t get in their way.”

“Sure you do. You waste space in the fortress. All you damned Simples. And while you’re up there, bumbling about in the dirt, we’re stuck down here.” She slammed her hand on the door. “We should be in charge. Without us, none of you would have even been born. In your case that would have been a favor.”

His breath hitched. This girl was meaner than any William. He had no doubt that if she wasn’t locked behind her door, she’d be hitting him. Probably kicking him too. Girls shouldn’t be mean. He’d not even done anything wrong that she should be mad at him about. She shouldn’t yell at him. It wasn’t her job.

Now let’s find out a little more about her. Jean, describe what you consider your ideal writing conditions.

Writing is most productive for me when I can sit in my comfortable chair with my feet up and my laptop ready. Silence is also a big plus. I keep ear plugs next to me so that my son playing his computer games on the floor above or my husband practicing his guitar don’t bother me. Having my own writing office has been wonderful. I don’t have a clock so I don’t keep track of time, letting me get lost in the story. Chocolate is stashed within reach, because I need that when I edit, but I eat Twizzlers when I write. Oh, and I love having my own space where I can act out actions or expressions when working on description. I don’t mind my dogs watching me, but other people, well that’s just weird.

Are you a plotter, a pantser or some combination of both?

I’m a pantser. My stories, both novels and short stories, begin as with a character or what if question. I might have an opening scene in mind or maybe an ending. Then I sit down and let the words out. I’ve started with as little as a name and a genre and with as much as a single page of hastily written notes.  For me the magic in the writing comes from creating as I go. When I know what’s going to happen I get bored and easily distracted.

Somewhere around the second or third draft I finally get around to plotting, with notes and outlines and all that organized stuff because I’m working on consistency and flow and pacing by that point.  

Give us an interesting or fun fact about your book/series (one we couldn’t possibly know).

When I set out to write A Broken Race, it was with the intent to write all point of view characters as equally good and evil. I originally planned to decide who was going to be the protagonist and the antagonist after the dust of the rough draft was over. However, by that point I was rather attached to almost all of them and made the choice to keep them all as grey as possible so the reader could decide who was ultimately good or evil.

Who is your least favorite character and what makes them less appealing to you?

That would have to be the Williams. The fact that the Williams are in charge only because they’ve maneuvered their way into power made them hard to portray in the middle ground I was striving for. I may have an issue with authority figures, and even making fictional people subject to them irks me. There’s a reason I’ve always been in management and am now self employed. 

What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

When I’m not writing, I’m working…and thinking about writing because doing repetitive tasks frees up the mind to wander. By day I own a sign and graphics business and do most of the production work myself. But when I’m not working, I’m playing with my dogs, working in my yard, nagging my son (because computer games!) or volunteering for whatever my daughter is doing (usually something science or orchestra related). When I have a chance to escape my mom duties, I run to the nearest local brewery, winery or bar with my husband and friends. Why? Because there are no kids there and I have teenagers. 

What is the one thing you never seem to have enough time for?

Until recently, I would have said writing, but I’ve got a good routine going the past few months and I’m pretty satisfied with my productivity. That leaves me with reading. I have so many piles of books that I’ve gathered over the past few way to be busy years that I want to read. When we moved into our new house a year ago, I intentionally spread out my to be read stacks so they wouldn’t feel so overwhelming. There are currently four, and that’s three too many. And that doesn’t include the virtual pile on my kindle. But I’m on book two of the year so at least one stack is slightly shorter. Now, if I can just stay out of the book store.

Jean, it’s been great to have you. Come back again soon, and the best of luck on A Broken Race.

Newsflash!! Jean just got a 3 book deal from her publisher. Congratulations Jean!!



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