Angelica R. Jackson’s debut novel CROW’S REST was released in May of 2015 by Spencer Hill Press. In addition to being a cancer survivor and a keeper of cats at her no-kill-cage-free cat sanctuary, she has published articles on gardening, natural history, web design, travel, hiking, and local history. Other interests include pets, reading, green living, and cooking for food allergies (the latter not necessarily by choice, but she’s come to terms with it). Ongoing projects include short fiction, poetry, novels, art photography, and children’s picture books.
When did you know you were a writer?
I’ve been writing since junior high, but I knew I was a Writer-with-a-capital-W when I started sending out short stories at sixteen years old—and kept going after the rejections. I did go through a brief period in my twenties where I was so disgusted with the submission process that I “quit” writing. That word is in quotation marks because although I wasn’t actively sending things out or completing projects, I still found myself writing down ideas. That didn’t last long before I realized I was fooling myself into thinking that I could give up writing. I started some creative writing classes and fell back in love with words.
How long did it take to sign your first publishing contract?
My first fiction publishing contract was for a short story, “Hornworms,” that sold in 2010—a couple of decades after I first started submitting short fiction to magazines. But before that, I’d found homes for lots of freelance articles, starting in 2001. Crow’s Rest was my first book contract, and that one took about a year from a finished draft to publication contract with Spencer Hill Press (SHP).
What are the most important lessons you learned along the way?
That no writing—or rewriting—is ever wasted. You might reuse a particularly choice turn of phrase in another work, even if you’ve otherwise ditched that entire story–or just the process of writing it may have been a learning experience.
And every single time I revised my first book (a historical ghost story called Spirits from the Vasty Deep), I got better at seeing the problems in my own writing. That helped me skip some newbie mistakes when I dove into writing my second full book (Crow’s Rest).
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?
That you need to be ruthless in your self-editing, because the attention span of a reader can be just as ruthless. (No one person has ever said that exact quote to me, but it’s a distillation of a lot of advice and observation)
What are your thoughts on self-publishing?
I actually came close to self-publishing Crow’s Rest, and would have done so if SHP and I hadn’t been able to come to an agreement on the contract (that negotiation turned out to be a lot less painful than I’d feared, by the way). I may still self-publish Spirits from the Vasty Deep—I’ve discovered I have a flair for cover art and publicity, and feel a lot more confident that I could do justice to self-publishing my book now.
What are you currently working on?
SHP has an option on any further Crow’s Rest books, and I’m working on the sequel, tentatively entitled No Man’s Land. There is also a third book planned, although it’s not a true trilogy.
What’s something your fans may not know about you?
I’d barely finished cancer treatments when I sent out Crow’s Rest on submission to agents, and then editors, and that brush with mortality influenced my plans for the book—I had less patience for going through the entire process of finding an agent and then a publisher. It motivated me to take charge of my own career, and made me more willing to enter into talks with a small publisher—and I’m glad I did. (And no worries, I’m all clear on the cancer now)