WINDSOR AUTHOR JESSICA GOUIN
I haven’t met Jessica (in the flesh that is!) yet! We are an example of a virtual connection gone very well. Two local authors meet on-line…and the rest is literary history! We started chatting on Facebook, I believe it was, and immediately knew we were writers from the same cloth. After some back and forth, I found out how to get a copy of her book, Six Years Gone – a sexy, sassy new adult fiction book – and we promised to do an interview on my blog. I’ve since read her book, and she’s since answered my loads of questions! Jessica is a self-published author and this fact interests me very much. The self-publishing industry is alive and thriving – and proof that writers can have all the power they want with their words. It’s inspiring! I’m thrilled to be introducing you to this writer, if you haven’t met already, I hope you do so after this! And, I’m also very happy to help promote Jessica’s forthcoming book Edges of Gone, the second book in the Gone series, that launches in April! Details below! Settle in, friends, and get to know author Jessica Gouin!
VS: You mention on your blog that you were inspired to read and write by author R.L. Stein. What is it about his writing that you love, and how does it affect your writing?
JG: For me, The Goosebumps books represented more than just writing, it provided an escape I craved. Each time I opened a different tale, I was given the possibility of slipping out of my childhood and entering a vastly different world the Stein created—that is what I fell in love with.
When I write, I strive to provide an escape for my readers. Granted, the world’s I create in my novels are tremendously different than the ones I read as a child!
Although Stein’s stories were fairly scary at the time, when I read those same books with my children as an adult they seem a bit silly and yet I still catch myself flipping on a light switch before I enter a room. I do love that kind of terror I feel when things go bump in the night so I would love to write a paranormal book one day and attempt to harness the essence of horror.
VS: What made you decide to write contemporary romance/YA romance? For those of us who may not be familiar with this genre, can you offer a short definition?
JG: Young Adult fiction novels date back to as early as the 1800’s with books ranging from Lord of the Flies, to The Outsiders, to Twilight. There’s such a diverse style within the YA genre. These are the books that I graduated to after Goosebumps. They are the stories that helped shape me as a…you guessed it, Young Adult! I feel this genre holds my roots. My first book was YA, and I will definitely write more YA books.
Another genre that shaped me as I got a little older is New Adult fiction. This genre is fairly new, only making waves in the market in the last several years. New Adult is unquestionably not your mother’s romance. To me, these stories are rawer, more personal. The characters are generally out of high school and are beginning college or entering the workforce. The conflicts found within these stories tend to be a little more mature and the context is usually not recommended for readers under the age of 18.
I write in both of these genres as they are the types of stories that I’m drawn to, and again, they are what helped mold the person I am. When I read, I try to venture outside of my niche, but I always come back to those epic love stories. I’m a sucker for a great kiss! Or a strong and powerful life lesson.
As I mentioned earlier, I would like to expand my writing style into paranormal, but even then I still think it would turn into a romance somehow. I hesitate with this due to the recent popularity of vampires, werewolves, etc.
VS: When/how did you get the idea for ‘Six Years Gone’? And, each of your books?
JG: It’s tricky to tell you where the inspiration came from without giving away a significant spoiler of Six Years Gone. For anyone who has read it, or will read it, something that occurs just before the halfway point was inspired by one of my favorite TV shows. (Sorry, that doesn’t answer the question at all!). What I will say is that the concept originated from the show. While toying with the idea, I was listening to Taylor Swift’s 1989 album and one of her tracks, Wildest Dreams, really stuck with me. She sings about a couple who wants to leave the public eye so they can be together in secret. They know they’ll fall quickly for each other and it will be heated and intense and they’ll probably get hurt in the end but they can’t stop. The more I listened to the lyrics the more I was caught up in the idea of a forbidden, intense love that wasn’t supposed to be. Between the show and the song, the concept for SYG grew rapidly until Sawyer and Lachlan were created.
My other books and short stories all have different inspirations much like Six Years Gone. Mostly, lyrics I hear will stand out and I’ll catch myself daydreaming long after the song is over. I tend to expand on the snippet of information and intertwine that with other songs or scenes from movies or shows that have gripped onto me.
Of course, as any writer does, pieces of my life experiences are woven throughout my books as well. But I’ll never point out what actually comes from my life. *runs away*
VS: Tell us about your publisher Caffeinated Veins Publishing. How did you find out about it?
JG: Actually, I am the publisher of Caffeinated Veins. A friend of mine, who is also a writer (hi, Rachel!) helped me redesign the cover of my first novel, Losing Scars. She had a fantastic idea of creating a publishing logo for the spine of the book as I’m self-published. I thought about concepts for a while, researched some existing publishing logos and considered what I wanted my brand to say. At the time, I was working a full-time job while writing and raising a family. Needless to say, I was sucking back a lot of coffee. My husband always joked about tapping my veins with coffee and the idea just struck me—Caffeinated Veins Publishing! Ta-da!
VS: How did you find Kate Richards and Valerie Mann of Wizards in Publishing?
JG: I was searching for an editor for Six Years Gone when another friend of mine, who is also a writer (hi, Mike!) suggested I contact Wizards of Publishing for their editing services. After discussing my needs with Kate, she forwarded my manuscript to Laura Garland who has been my editor ever since. They’re both very easy to work with which is definitely important when it comes to altering your word-babies!
VS: When and where do you write?
JG: When I worked full-time, I’d write after my husband went to work the midnight shift and the kiddies were down for the night (this would be between 9-10PM). I’d click away on my laptop until I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Now that I’m able to write full time I write during the day mostly while the kiddies are in school. I suppose old habits really do die hard because I still write late into the night. One of my favorite quotes reads, “2 AM’s were made for poets, lovers/writers, visionaries, photographers, painters, over thinkers, silent seekers. These are my favorite hours.” Undeniably true.
Recently, my husband and I spent two days building an office desk in the corner of my living room to write at while I’m home. I love that it’s so centrally located in my home so I can still be around my fam while working. For my next novel, All the While Lies, I’ve been jotting down names of local café’s to visit as the storyline takes place in Windsor. I thought it’d be a great inspiration to do a local café tour and try to write in all of them at least once.
VS: Do you attend writing workshops or conferences? If so, what/where? How have these affected your writing?
JG: I’ve been an active member of Write on Windsor (W.O.W.) for two years now which is a bi-monthly critiquing group. I cannot even express how much I’ve learned from being a member. On top of being open and honest, the other writers have never judged me or criticized my work in a negative manner. They are there to help each other grow to become the best writer’s each can be and I genuinely consider them my friends. My writing wouldn’t be anywhere near where it is today without them. If you’re a writer in Windsor and are looking to get together with like-minded individuals, I highly suggest you come out for a meeting with us.
In the past, I attended a writer’s workshop led by Joey Ouellette. I thoroughly enjoyed attending those classes, unfortunately, it was only a four-week course. I am looking to register for other workshops or classes as I’m always eager to learn and grow as a writer.
No conferences yet, but I’d love to attend in the future.
VS: Your website and social media presence is excellent! Who creates your book trailers, and how effective are they in terms of book hype and sales?
JG: Why thank you! I’ve created pretty well everything you see. Book trailers, book teasers, my author websites, my reader’s group, all social media pages and so on. It’s very important for me to maintain a social presence and engage with my readers and other writer/author friends. Writing is such a solitary task that sometimes it becomes hard to break out of the world that you created in your head and come back to reality. I find that my social outlets keep me grounded.
In regards to the effectiveness of book trailers, I don’t believe that any one thing is enough for hype/sales that are required. Being an Indie Author in today’s world where it is so simple to click publish, the market is incredibly flooded. This is great because authors are able to reach readers in a way that wasn’t an option before, but it also makes it more challenging to be heard above all the voices. Trailers are just one avenue I tackle to be heard. I also design/create book teasers, host on-line giveaways, participate in author takeovers on Facebook, and so many other things to gather hype and sales.
VS: How do you define success as writer? What are the tangible measures you create for yourself?
JG: Success as a writer is something I’ve struggled with defining recently. I used to think if I complete a novel, I can call myself a writer. Well, I wrote a novel and it wasn’t enough for me. Then I thought if I can get x amount of reviews on my next release I’d consider it a success. I received those reviews and it still didn’t feel like an achievement. Then I started to think if I get x amount of sales with this next book, that will be enough to be a “success”. These type of thoughts kept swirling around and it got to the point where actually writing a novel wasn’t much of an accomplishment anymore. I wasn’t okay with that. Of course, I still make goals for myself but I try not to let those define my writing career. There are certain numbers with reviews and sales that I expect to reach because you know, I have bills to pay and such. My dream has always been to be a bestselling author (NY Times, USA Today, Amazon, whatever the case, I’m not picky here) but I don’t believe that would make me “successful”. If I write a story, and someone (who isn’t my mother) takes a moment out of their day to contact me and tell me that they loved my book, or that it meant something to them, I consider myself successful.
VS: What book(s) are you reading now? Do you read romance while you’re writing romance?
JG: This morning (at 3 AM to be exact), I finished reading Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone. I cannot say enough of this book. It’s one of those stories that give you a book hangover. I’ll probably pause my reading to allow this book to fully sink in. It was incredibly touching and inspiration for me in more ways that what was just on the surface. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend you pick it up!
I tend to read more Young Adult (YA) and New Adult (NA) fiction over other genres. I know that some authors say that they don’t read the type of books they write but I can’t stay away! I haven’t found too many books in other genres to hold my attention. I could be picking up the wrong reads though. If anyone can recommend books please shoot me an email!
VS: The second book in the Gone series “Edges of Gone” comes out on April 27. You offer cover reveals and ARCs (advanced reader copies) for reviewers – how is this possible? Does your publisher help with this?
JG: For Six Years Gone, I hired a PR company to help spread the word about my upcoming release. This company compiled all of my information and offered ARC’s (advanced reader copies) to bloggers to read/review for the release date. To acquire more hype in the weeks prior to the launch of my book, we also did a Cover Reveal event. Being an Indie Author, I have to do all the dirty work so hiring this company allowed me to pass some of the workloads to them and it allows me to reach readers that otherwise wouldn’t have known about my work which is great.
The ARC’s and Cover Reveal events went so smoothly for the first book in The Gone Series that I decided to use the same process for the second book.
VS: In the fall, ‘All The White Lies’ is set to launch as well. That’s two books in one year! Tell us about this one, and how you are able to launch both books in the same year!
JG: It’s definitely been a productive year for me so far!
All The White Lies is a story that I’ve been wanting to tell for a few years. It’s going to be my most difficult book to date because of the depth in goes into but I’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge. This story follows identical twin sisters, Lucy and Lennon. Out for to celebrate their 21st birthday, an accident leaves one Lennon in a coma and Lucy with amnesia. While Lennon fights for her life in the hospital, Lucy fights to remember anything at all. Slowly, fragments of a life bubble to the surface but certain aspects of don’t make sense. Each day that goes by Lucy wishes her sister would wake to help her until she remembers everything. Then she wishes Lennon doesn’t wake up at all.
This story is outlined as a New Adult Suspense Romance, however, it may take a YA turn. We’ll see how it unfolds!
Now that I’m able to write full-time I dedicate a good portion of the day to writing. I have a schedule that I keep which allows me to publish books closer together. My goal is to write and publish 2-3 books a year without sacrificing quality.
VS: What are you responsible for in terms of publicity and/or marketing?
JG: Everything. *nervous laugh*
One of the reasons I hired a PR company for releases is because marketing is remarkably difficult. It’s one thing to have a social media account and websites in place, but it’s something else entirely to make people see you. It’s ever harder to persuade a stranger to spend their hard earned money and valuable time on your unknown books.
VS: Is there a key element/theme that you include in all your stories?
JG: A key element/theme that can be found in my stories is love.
Whether that’s a romantic relationship, or a friendship, or close family member, or even self-love. I’d like to say that readers will walk away from my books with profound life altering wisdom, but I write to provide a brief escape from life, not to educate. I write what I know and what I can relate to.
VS: What author would love to have lunch with? What would you ask him/her?
JG: Colleen Hoover! She’s a fellow YA/NA author as well and is the reason I started writing. Well, one of the reasons. I do this thing after I read a book I love where I stalk the author. I research all other books written by that author, scour their website, and follow them on social media. I mean, we all do this right?
Anyway, after I read Slammed by Colleen Hoover, I began learning all about her. I discovered that she was a social worker living in a trailer with no background in writing at all. She borrowed her mom’s broken laptop for something to do during her child’s practice every day. She wrote a few chapters, thought she wanted to learn more about these characters so the story expanded and eventually she wrote her first novel. After self-publishing her book took off, she was picked up by an agent and now has eleven NY Times bestselling books.
If I could have lunch with anyone, it would be her. I’d spend the time picking her brain about everything from the writing process, to where her ideas come from, to future books and her thoughts on the literary market.
VS: What else do you do in your life that helps you keeps your writing life vibrant? (Exercise? Food? Travel?)
JG: I don’t travel as much as I would like, and by that I mean I don’t really travel at all. I’ve been out of Ontario once (that doesn’t include stateside shopping because that doesn’t count in my mind). It’s a personal goal of mine to try and travel more to expand my craft.
Reading is the most beneficial method to keep my writing vibrant. I firmly believe that you cannot be a writer if you are not a reader.
VS: Where can we get your books?!
JG: I’m so glad you asked. 😉
Paperbacks of Six Years Gone and Losing Scars are available at Indigo, in Lakeshore. EBooks are available online across all Amazon marketplaces.
All links are easily accessible on my website at www.authorjessicagouin.weebly.com.
Currently, I don’t have any events or signings coming up, however, in May I will probably have a few for the release of Edges of Gone. It’s best to sign up for my newsletter or follow my social media pages for regular updates.
Social media links
Newsletter subscription: http://eepurl.com/b7eJdr
Jessica’s newest book, Edges of Gone – launches April 27, 2017 and is available for pre-order on Amazon!
I hope this was an inspiring and informative read for you! Thank you again Jessica, for your honesty and time! Continued success to you!!