Jae Dawn: Writer with heart
Meeting the Rising Writer No. 33
We have various writers who write numerous things, most of whom willingly share their thoughts and ask questions daily. Jae Dawn is one of those, and although to this day I don’t know her birth name, it’s not what makes her interesting. She does well with that on her own.
What is your name? Do you go by that name as a writer?
Jae Dawn. It’s not the name on my birth certificate, but I hate the name my parents gave me and I refuse to use or share it if I don’t have to. I use Jae Dawn in every aspect of my life that I don’t have to worry about any legal issues.
What made you come up with Jae?
It started with an ex-boyfriend who lived in England when I met him online. We emailed every day and he called me J in the emails. I loved it. A few other people have done it, too, over the years, and it stuck with me. I never felt like my birth named belonged to me. It’s like someone calling you Miranda when your name is Brittany. It feels wrong, and it’s hard to answer to. I was going by a shortened version of my birth name, but that didn’t feel right either. J felt right. When I worked at the movie theater last year, one of the security guards that worked there every now and then had the same first name as me. We had a discussion about how we both hated that name and she said she sometimes just says her name is Jae. I had never heard that spelling before but it rang in my head. I kept thinking about it for a few weeks. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. That was when I realized I finally found my name, the one that belongs to me. The one my mother got wrong. I’m having a hard time getting the people who have known me for a long time to adapt, but I plan on making Jae Dawn my legal name so they will have to adapt.
How has writing affected you?
In writing I have finally found a creative outlet for the wild stories that have been brewing in my head for over 20 years. It’s a relief and a release to get it all out of me and share it with the world. I’m saying “Hey, look at what’s been trapped in my head most of my life. See this part of me that I was always afraid to show.” It feels great. Writing is definitely cathartic.
What do you think you do that’s different from other writers?
I pour every bit of my heart and soul into my stories. I become the characters. I live the moments. I laugh and cry with them. I feel the emotion they feel. When I’m writing, I no longer exist in my world. And when I’m not writing on my laptop, I’m still writing in my head. The characters never really leave me. I’m not naïve enough to think that no other author is the same way, but I do wonder how many become emotionally attached to such extreme. It would be nice to know I’m not crazy… or at least not alone in my crazy.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
Well, I have the obligatory pay-the-bills job at a newspaper, but outside of that, I am dedicated to my local animal rescue community. I work particularly with Magic Happens Rabbit Rescue in Baton Rouge. Rescue and writing are my two main passions in life.
What about rabbits gives you compassion?
I’m compassionate about all non-human animals equally. I will rescue anything I have the ability/resources for. But, I’ve always had rabbits in my life – meat rabbits when I was kid (which broke my heart and I wouldn’t eat them), breeding and showing rabbits in my late teens, and just a pet rabbit here and there throughout my twenties. I think it was a natural progression to rescue.
Rabbits are in my blood, so to speak. I have two rabbits now adopted through Magic Happens – Khal Kalona and Khaleesi (Oh yes, total Game of Thrones fan here). They are a bonded pair of spoiled inside bunnies, and they are fixed, so no babies.
When did you start writing?
On paper? I started in my early teenage years with poetry as an outlet for my emotions. I had a bad childhood, so writing and reading was my escape. Before the poetry, though, (and during) I wrote stories in my head where I had a better life, better family, where I was happy, etc. That was my escape from reality. Writing is still my escape (albeit reality is much better now). I Just put it in written words now and share it.
What are you currently working on? How did you begin working on it?
My current piece is Phoenix Always, the first in a series called Immortal Souls. It’s almost done and will be published by Rambunctious Ramblings next April. I was working at a movie theater in August 2015 and always carried a notebook with me to write in my downtime. One day, I was spinning my brain looking for some inspiration and the word “reincarnation” popped in. The story quickly formed from there.
What inspires your writing?
Randomness. Honestly. One word read in a glance, one sentence heard on TV, one passing image, that’s all it takes for my mind to form an idea for a novel. I have two completed novels, my WIP, and 15 more books planned, all either as part of my two current series or from random things that spurred an idea and story in my head.
Give us insight to your main character. Who is he or she? What is his or her purpose?
It’s Phoenix’s eighteenth birthday when we meet her in the novel, but it’s a terrifying day for her. She’s been trapped in a cycle of reincarnation for nine centuries and always dies after a birthday but never knows which one it will be. So she has to prepare to die every year. In Phoenix Always she finally reached a point where she doesn’t want to keep going. She just wants to grow old and die for a final time, so she sets out to learn why she’s trapped in this cycle and how to stop it, and she may only have five days to do it. Phoenix is apathetic and sarcastic and a little jaded. She’s lived thirty-nine lives all over the world in different cultures, ethnicities, classes, you name it. Most of those lives were extremely difficult, and she tries not to let it shape her but it does.
What/who are your favorite or most reliable support groups?
I limit my writers groups because it’s too difficult to keep up with even a few. I have a group I helped form in New Orleans. We meet once a month, but keep up through Facebook and text. My only online groups that I depend on are An Author’s Tale and Rambling Writers Café. I love those groups and I’ll be with them for as long as they exist, I’m sure. Even though my rescue group isn’t a writing group, they are also one of my most reliable sources of support as a writer.
What is the biggest mistake you think you make while writing? How do you overcome it?
Being my own worst critic. It’s a mistake I make every time I sit down to write. It interferes with my progress. To overcome it and keep writing I have to yell at myself to leave things alone and deal with it during the editing process. That doesn’t always work. I’m a critical person, especially of myself.
What do you hope to achieve with your writing?
One thing people around me have heard me say many times is, “I hate working. I don’t want a job. I want a career. I want to do what I love and just happen to get paid for it.” That’s what writing is for me. That’s what I’m trying to achieve. I want my writing and my books to be my life, along with my rescue work. I plan to incorporate the two.
What genre do you enjoy most, and what draws you to the genre you write?
The fantasy genre has always been my biggest escape from reality. I love diving into a world that doesn’t exist, because it’s so much better than reality. A world with magic, fairies, unicorns, and vampires… I want that. Our world is boring in comparison. I rarely read anything outside the fantasy and paranormal genre, and I don’t foresee myself writing much outside of that either. Though I’m always open to possibilities.
What advice would you give your younger self?
To start writing sooner. To take those escape stories I made up in my head and put them on paper now as a teenager. It’s one of my biggest regrets.
What books or writing projects have you completed/published in the past?
So far I have only finished two books, Ashes of Betrayal and Shadows of Dreams. They are the first two books in an epic fantasy called The Magicis Chronicles. I initially self-published them, but now they are signed over with Rambunctious Ramblings and will receive a fantastic makeover before release in a couple years.
Do you research your book? If so, what have you learned through your research?
Any time I can keep something in my novel factual to real life, I do, so research is essential. I’m hungry to learn and since I’m done with college for now, this research is how I keep my mind fed. I’ve done so much research for my books over the last few years that I don’t remember most of what I have Googled, but I’ll never forget the research on dead bodies. I’ll never forget the images and what I’ve learned about the decomp process.
What is your greatest fear? (Does not have to be in writing)
My biggest fear is wasting my life, of not becoming somebody worth remembering, of being meaningless. I only have one life and there’s no redo option, so I’m trying to make the most of it. I don’t want to die with regrets and wishing I had done this and that, and nothing scares me more.
How can readers and fellow writers discover more about you and your work?