Write Now With Jackary Salem

Today's Write Now interview features Jackary Salem, developmental editor and author of WHERE THE LIGHTNING GOES.

Write Now With Jackary Salem
Photo courtesy of Jackary Salem

Who are you?

I’m Jackary Salem, an author and freelance developmental editor based in Tennessee. I love cats, talking to strangers, and playing boardgames. My degree is in neuroscience.

What do you write?

I write fantasy and horror, and I’ve been writing “books” since before I could properly write my alphabet. One of my earliest memories is of me lying belly-down on the kitchen floor, doing my best not to lose my grip on my sharpened-to-the-nub pencil as I filled yet another spiralbound notebook with my stories.

When it comes to themes, I tend to veer toward more realistic emotional responses. For me, it’s less about what the character does in the action sequences of the story and more about how they feel. How does betrayal affect a person’s ability to trust? How does a major loss impact someone’s ability to be happy? How does being in an abusive relationship, be it romantic, familial, or work related, impact long term self-esteem? It’s the characters reacting in a way that resonates and showing that it’s possible to heal that really makes a story worthwhile.

As for whether or not I love writing, the answer is a resounding “Yes.” I love writing in the same way football fanatics love the Superbowl. I stay up and write after sixteen hour shifts. I write in cars and on planes. If I can rope someone into a conversation about writing, it’ll go until they tap out. It’s two parts heart, one part obsession. I love it.

Where do you write?

I’ll write literally anywhere. I write alone in my office, and I write on the floor at crowded parties. My surroundings have never really mattered. As for materials, I plot on sticky notes which then get hung up on the wall, work out possible ideas in physical journals with metallic and/or glitter pens, and actually write in Word on my laptop.

When do you write?

A typical writing session for me is free form. Whatever spare time I have, I’ll sit down and write. There are no word count goals or time limits. I just sit down, and what gets done gets done.

Why do you write?

I write because there’s no other option. Even when I didn’t intend to be an author, I had finished novels gathering digital dust on my hard drive. Even when I tell myself “I’m done,” and “I quit,” the stories fill my head. Writing is an escape for me, much like reading is an escape for others, and it’s a key part of who I am. Even if I were the last person on Earth, I think I’d still write. I’m motivated by reading good writing and by talking about anything writing related. I’m not really sure what inspires me, as I’ve never been without inspiration, but it’s probably something mundane like glitter or human connection.

How do you overcome writer's block?

I’ve never actually had writer’s block. Or maybe I have, and I just didn’t know it. When I get stuck, I step away from my laptop and try again the next day. Usually my subconscious has taken the night to sort itself out, and when I return from my break, I know how to continue. I also sometimes talk it out with friends or write down questions I need answered in my notebook. When I’m between stories, unsure what to write next, I binge fiction. Then, when I get tired of reading other people’s stories, I write another of my own.

Bonus: What do you enjoy doing when not writing?

Honestly? Talking about writing. Aside from that, I like playing board games and video games. I like to color and meet new people. I like petting cats. In an ideal world, my hobby would probably be playing a board game with strangers in a cat cafe where everyone is happy to talk about writing.

My thanks to Jackary Salem for today's interview.