The first week of the month always means an interview, and this month I’m talking with Jodie Bailey. Read along and see how she got into military suspense, which craft book is her favorite, and her unconventional Dorito habit.
Hi Jodie, and thanks for your willingness to appear on my blog! I’m looking forward to sharing your knowledge and advice with the rest of the world (at least with the small portion of it that follows my blog). To start, please tell us a little about yourself.
I am very, very proud to be a North Carolina girl. I am also very, very glad to have married a soldier whose career forced me to leave NC for a while. It was good to see new places and experience new things, but it sure did make me glad to come home again. I love the beach in the fall and winter. Unfortunately, I love Mountain Dew, chips, and salsa. I love quiet time with coffee and Jesus first thing in the morning, and I hate Brussels sprouts. In my family, the Brussels sprouts thing is the stuff of legend.
Why did you start writing?
I don’t remember starting. I’ve written and told stories my whole life because I have loved it my whole life. I was in college before I realized not everyone enjoyed making up whole stories.
How did you start writing?
When I was in my early thirties, I was sitting in Beth Moore’s Daniel Bible study thinking how lucky she was to have a job where she got to write and talk about God. Mind you, I’d been writing my whole life, sharing with friends or shoving notebooks into drawers. We’re talking lots and lots of notebooks. In that moment, it was like God whacked me with my Bible and said, “Duh.” (Really, I think He did.) “I did not give you this gift to shove in a drawer. Get serious.”
How did you select your genre?
I love contemporary romance, so that’s what I wrote. And I still love writing it. It’s so… freeing and fun. But one day, my agent said, “As an Army wife, have you ever considered military suspense?” I laughed and told her no. But then I got an idea that wouldn’t go away. It just kept growing. And then I enlisted my husband’s help and we had so much fun plotting together. I discovered it was very interesting to write in a genre where nearly anything can happen, and the ideas have—thankfully—never stopped.
What is your writing day like?
I get up and pack the family off to work and school, have my God time, get in some exercise, spend about half an hour chatting on social media, then sit down to work. Oh, with coffee, of course. I take a half-hour lunch break and watch some TV just to get out of my own head, then head right back to work. Well, in a perfect world. There’s a lot of Facebook drive-bys in that time…
How do you organize your writing (outlines/note cards/post-its)?
I’m a very loose plotter. I come up with ten things that MUST HAPPEN and I write to those ten points. They are on one sheet of paper right by my side at all times. Other than that, there are post-its EVERYWHERE. Stuck to the desk, the monitor, the bulletin board… All of those reminders are there. I also made myself a white board where I keep Very Important Details that I don’t want to forget, so I can see them at a glance.
What’s the most surprising thing a character has “told you?”
Hm. That’s a tough one. It would have to be when one of my characters showed up in the middle of the night (in story world, not at my actual house because, you know, that would be scary) to say another character had died. I never saw that coming. I actually cried. In Panera. On a personal level, in Freefall, when Josh busted out with the fact he saw Andrea’s brother on the night he died, I never knew he was carrying that secret all of this time. Knocked me over.
Do you have a list of characters that you’re saving for future use? What kind of information do you keep on these characters?
Not really. I’m a character first writer, so if a character shows up, they have a story already. I do have one who has been talking to me for a long time, sort of unveiling her story at intervals. I know where she lives and works, who she’s falling in love with, what she wants to do with her life… but she has a secret she’s not telling me. Four years she’s been talking and she won’t tell me. And until she does, I can’t start her story. Stubborn thing, she is.
What does your work space/office look like?
I love my office! It was my grandmother’s sewing room, and my desk sits where her sewing table sat. I have a big, glass L-shaped desk so I can sit and look out my big window at the yard and the woods. There are two closets, a big comfy green chair, and my filing cabinet. The closet is full of bookcases, of course. The walls are dark purple on the bottom and lavender on top, with white trim and chair rail. (Purple is the color of romance and royalty. Get it?) I covered one wall with black and whites of my family and of my husband in action before he retired. It’s a great picture. And I framed my book covers on another wall. The light is amazing in there. It’s my favorite room.
What is your go-to snack when writing?
I try not to eat when I’m writing. But if I do, it has to crunch. I used to chow down on M&Ms and Doritos… mixed together. But that was decidedly unhealthy. So I turned to almonds. Now, it’s nothing. I snack out of control if I snack while I write. So I drink coffee. 🙂
If you could only recommend one NOVEL, what would it be? Why?
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith. The characterization of Francie as we follow her from child to adult… the other people in her life… the way the story world revolves around her point of view… It’s such a beautiful, poignant story. I love it. It’s my favorite of all time.
If you could only recommend one CRAFT book (writing, no crocheting), what would it be? Why?
HA! I can’t crochet anyway. I make knots. 🙂 Only one? James Scott Bell’s The Art of War for Writers. TONS of info. TONS. Broken down into bite-sized pieces and easily searchable. I’ve read it a dozen times or more. I get to the end and start all over again.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
If you’re a reader, thank you. And share your favorite books. I’m always looking to add to my TBR pile! If you’re a writer and you’re just starting, don’t stop. Enjoy this time you have to wander in your story, to learn from the people around you, and to dig into new places. Learn, learn, learn. Read great novels. Read great books on craft. Go to conferences. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid. And finish. The world is full of people who have a good idea, but so many don’t finish. Get that thing done, then start another one!
Thank you so much for appearing on my blog! Have a blessed day!
Thank you for having me! Have a wonderful day!