Pride Nights at Queen’s welcomes Jaimie N. Shock, SFF author, journalist, editor, queer, PTSD advocate. Read our chat to find out more about Visions of Iotan, Jaimie’s latest Sci-Fi novel, her beginnings with journalism and more.
Jaimie N. Schock is an author, editor, and journalist with more than a decade of professional experience. She has been in newspapers and magazines, and she has published eight novels. She has four cats and a wonderful husband. She has PTSD and is a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community.
Welcome to the Asylum! Take a seat by the fire, have a glass of beverage of your choice and tell me something about yourself!
I have four cats, and I love them very much! Their names are Bob, Milo, Penguin, and River. As I complete this interview, Bob, a former feral cat, is sitting in my lap.
I know from your bio that you work(ed) as a journalist. What attracted to you that profession? Were you always passionate about writing?
I wanted to make a difference. I joined a student program at a local newspaper when I was in high school. At the end, they paid me money that I didn’t expect. It was then that I realized I could make a difference AND make a living. I worked in the profession for more than ten years. I have always liked writing, so making the switch to being an author wasn’t very difficult.
What inspires your writing? Do you listen to music, stare into the fire, listen to the whispering of the wind, make deals with the Devil?
Movies, TV, dreams, real life. I often put attributes of myself into the characters I write.
You recently published your eight novel, Visions of Iotan. Tell us about that book! It’s a Sci-Fi novel after a Fantasy series, The Talisman War. Was it more or less challenging writing in a different genre?
Visions of Iotan is a funky tale about a man who goes to a different planet with a bunch of gigantic, benevolent aliens. The bad guy is a priest, and there is a talking capybara. Since the main character experiences hallucinations, the story has plenty of unreliable naration, images, and scenes, which makes it more interesting.
They were challenging in different ways. Visions of Iotan not only features science fiction—which was definitely new to me—but also a religious theme. I’m not religious myself, so I had to research and draw upon advice from others. With that said, the book does not feature nearly as many of my personal attributes, such as PTSD, familial drama, etc., that I put into The Talisman War series. I didn’t have to do an emotional workout to write Visions of Iotan, in other words.
Was it easier or harder to write the eight book than the first one?
Easier by far. My first book The Pyre Starter features a depressed main character. Writing that was way more difficult than writing Cillian (from Visions of Iotan), who comes from a stable place. Also, I was definitely not as comfortable writing my first book as my eighth. It flowed much easier and needed far fewer revisions.
You are part of the LGBTQ community, and your books also feature LGBTQ characters. Are you drawing on personal experiences when writing? Why is it important to you to represent LGBTQ characters?
Yes and no. Many of my main characters are gay men, which I am obviously not. But I am bisexual, and I feel a kinship with these characters. Dakota, my first gay character, still holds a very special spot in my heart. When I write gay or bi women, I am definitely putting parts of myself into the character. And not just experiences as a bisexual cisgender woman. Kenna, from The Talisman War series, for example, has PTSD, and I do, as well.
It’s important to put these characters into books so that other people, LGBTQ+ or not, get to see them represented and relate to them. My books are a relatively small attempt to help normalize LGBTQ+ people in society. And, for LGBTQ+ readers, they get to see themselves.
Which character of your books do you identify with the most and why?
Definitely Dakota and Kenna, my first two main characters from The Talisman War series. They both share my mental health difficulties. Dakota also swears a lot. My other two main characters, Cameron from the series and Cillian from Visions of Iotan, have parts of me in them, as well, but they take very different paths than I would personally choose.
What is the one thing you wish everyone would know about LGBTQ people?
They’re just people. Even with the unique issues LGBTQ+ people face—and these are important, too—they are people with problems, goals, and values like everyone else. If you’re struggling to write an LGBTQ+ character, remember this. Write a person first.
If you were a character in a book (yours, or any other of your choice), how would you be described? What would be your theme song?
Short in stature, strong-willed, and incredibly stubborn.
My theme song would be some kind of dramatic instrumental leading up to a character’s all-but-certain demise.
Which fictional character and/or author would you like to live with in an asylum?
It’s difficult to pick just one! I think Stephen King would be interesting, but Ambrose Bierce might have even better stories to tell.
While you are locked in here for eternity, we will allow you to have one book – what would you choose?
The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce. Tons of sarcastic and clever definitions of everyday words.
Well then, we hope you’ll enjoy your stay in the Asylum! Any last words? *locks door*
Can I have the key?
If you’d like to get in contact with Jaimie N. Shock, you can find her on social media:
Check out Visions of Iotan
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