Author Chat with Jacqui Castle (The Seclusion)!

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Today we're excited to chat with Jacqui Castle, author of The Seclusion.  Read on for more about Jacqui and her book.

 

Meet Jacqui Castle! 

 
 
Jacqui Castle lives and writes in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, North Carolina. Castle has been published in a variety of publications, both regional and national, including Mountain XpressWNC WomanAsheville Grit, and Explore AshevilleThe Seclusion is her first novel.
 
 
Meet The Seclusion!
 
 
 In the year 2090, America has walled itself off from the rest of the world.
While on a routine assignment scouting the country’s dwindling natural resources, Patricia “Patch” and her best friend, Rexx, discover a cache of dangerous contraband— printed books from before the Seclusion. These texts spark an unquenchable thirst for the truth that leads to the arrest of Patch’s father by the totalitarian Board, which runs the entire country.
Evading their own arrest, Patch and Rexx set out across a ruined future United States. Along the way they learn how their country came to be this way, but their newfound knowledge may lead to their own demise.

 

 
 
 

A Chat with Jacqui Castle:

 

1. What gave you the inspiration to write this book?

 

The idea for The Seclusion came to me during the primary election campaign. I started out writing a short story, and it snowballed from there. The first draft was completed in the summer of 2016, before the general election, and since then it has evolved. So, while events at the time inspired it, I never thought the book would be this prescient.

 

I think now is a time where we are all playing with the what-ifs within our own current climate. What if, for example, our news was filtered through our leaders before we received it. That is one of the most prominent themes in the story, examining what the world looks like if we lose the ability to communicate directly with one another and no longer have a free press. Where would that lead us?

 

If you’re in this world where everything is oppressed and it’s so bleak, how do you still find your individuality and how do you figure out who you are in a situation like this? The Seclusion presents a possible future to explore these questions.

 

2.  Who is your favorite character in the book?

While each character in the story holds a special place in my heart, Oliver Shelling is by far my favorite character. We are introduced to Oliver in the middle of the story. He is eccentric and a bit kooky, but in many ways is more grounded than anyone else in this world. It is after meeting Oliver that the two main characters really begin to re-evaluate society through someone else's eyes.

3.  Which came first, the title or the novel?

The novel. I tried out several names for the book throughout the drafting process, and have numerous .doc files saved along the way to prove it! I landed on the title The Walls are Closing In, which remained the title during the Inkshares crowdfunding campaign in which I pre-sold 750 copies of the novel. During editorial with the publishing company, my developmental editor and I decided to change it to The Seclusion, which we agreed left more room for the series to unfold and grow.



4.   Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?

 

As a freelance writer who focused on non-fiction before ever embarking on writing fiction, learning to show not tell was a huge thing for me. I’ll readily admit, the first draft read like a journalistic info dump. I had to work on getting into my characters’ voices and showing things through dialogue and action. It was a learning process, but over time my new scenes required fewer and fewer rewrites, and I found that suddenly I was drafting in a way that more closely resembled the story I wanted to tell.



5.  What do you like most about the cover of the book?

 

I love the feeling my book cover evokes. I was shown five draft designs, based on separate directions the publisher was considering going with it, and the first draft of the current cover was the only one that caused me an emotional reaction. The body language of the young woman, and how meager she looks compared to this barrier in front of her, coupled with the crack split down the middle that hints at the hope that is present in the story. Altogether, it is a compelling and powerful image.



6.  What’s up next for you?

 

If everything goes according to plan, The Seclusion will be a trilogy. I'm currently 16K words into the first draft of book two and hope to have the first draft wrapped up by the end of the year, using National Novel Month in November as a time to buckle down. I will likely run a campaign on Inkshares for that book as well, and anyone who might be interested in becoming a backer can follow to receive updates.

 

I'm also drafting another novel titled Apate. The story is still in the early stages, but I'm incredibly excited for it to develop. Apate will take place in the near future and will be told from two vastly different perspectives — a congressional intern's and a NASA scientist's. There will be an asteroid (named Apate after the Greek Goddess of deceit) plummeting toward Earth, and let's just say that all is not what it seems to be. The story is still taking shape, and I can share more soon.



7.  Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?

 

There is a scene near the beginning of the novel in which Patch is listening to her father recall memories from his childhood. That scene was one of the most difficult to pin down due to the intense subject matter. My best scenes were those where I found myself so emotionally invested that I didn’t even notice I had tears in my eyes in the middle of a coffee shop. I’m sure people thought I was insane, but hey, scene done.




8.  Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?

 

I enjoy both for different reasons. I find the stream of consciousness style writing that occurs during the drafting stage incredibly freeing and cathartic. However, I also enjoy going back and fitting all the pieces together and seeing the story take shape more cohesively. I'm working on being better at plotting my stories before diving in, but in reality, my writing style often lends itself to writing several scenes that don't have anything to do with each other quite yet. I then enjoy the challenge of getting my characters from point A to point B, and on to point C.




9. Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?

 

There are so many wonderful organizations out there right now that it can be difficult to know where to put your energy or any extra funds that you might have. I am an active professional member of PEN America(Pen.org), which is an organization that works to protect open expression through press freedom and fights for human rights in the United States and worldwide.

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