I want to begin by asking some background information about you. Where are you from and how long have you been writing?
Hi Jesú I'm so happy to be interviewed!
Okay, so am actually from Australia, born in North Queensland in a small country town 20 minutes from the Great Barrier Reef (it's quite literally on our doorstep). But ironically enough, I'm not really a fan of the ocean or swimming—so I suppose that's why I chose to be a writer instead!
I've been writing since I can remember. I actually used to draw pictures before I learned how to write, and mind you, those pictures were just scribbles. I would explain each picture as if I were telling a story. So, I guess I've been telling stories long before I was even writing!
Tell us about your current book Lanterns in the Sky?
Lanterns In The Sky is the first book in my 7 book fantasy series.
It's about a reincarnated starlight princess who must stop a war from her past. You'll follow Lucy Maisfer as she seeks to protect her best friend from a mysterious boy and unravel the secrets of her past—only to discover how all three of them are connected in the grand scheme of things.
I really wanted to write an unpredictable story where everything you think you know can’t be truly trusted—so if you love twists, magic, royalty, romance and complicated relationships, you'll likely devour this book. The book is available here: https://www.amazon.com/Lanterns-Sky-Starlight-Chronicles-Book-ebook/dp/B07NZXTMQ4/
(P.S: The next book is coming in December, 2019!)
Pagan, I loved the world building in Lanterns in the Sky, and I was totally surprised by the inclusion of angels. Could you tell my readers more about that world you built? What inspired it?
I've been working on this series for the past 7 years and it started out as something else entirely—a horror story. Thankfully, the idea quickly adapted when I realized horror wasn't my forte and I got inspired to write about a world full of magic and starlight. However, the original concept always remained the same: "What if the stars were lanterns in the sky?"
Even in the original book, these lanterns were lit by a source of magic, which ended up being angels. They aren't your typical 'religion' angels though—they have their own lore, backstory and purposes which gets explored in more detail in the sequel novel and help to support the overarching plot of the entire series. I can confidently say that each world in the series stemmed from the angel lore I created.
(BTW, if you've read Lanterns In The Sky—yes, there are more worlds coming! Grab your popcorn *wink*).
I know at one point you told me you had done the best writing in that book, how have you grown as writer?
Once upon a time, I knew how to write well but developing a plot that resonated with readers seemed to always fall short for me. Over the years, I've gotten a better grasp on writing character conflict and emotions, exploring deeper issues through my writing, and finding that hook that captures reader's attention. It's more than just having an exciting plot with a number of twists thrown in—the story has to mean something to find a place in a reader's heart for a long time. It's not always easy to pin-point what that something is going to be for various people.
I would definitely consider Lanterns In The Sky better in many ways that my previous book, Stuck On Vacation With Ryan Rupert, because everything from the character development, to the plot, to the world-building is the result of my evolved real-life experiences and nurtured writing skill.
Finally, a number of emerging writers visit my blog. What three kernels of advice would you give a beginning writer?
I love this question! *rubs hands together in delight*
- Don't publish your book without building readership first! No matter how excited or determined or anxious you are to do so—big regrets lie ahead! Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Be patient, my young grasshopper. Your time will come!
- The first book you write is likely not going to be the best story to publish. Try penning a few manuscripts first. I went through half a dozen at least (and I also rewrote SOVWRR completely before I finally published it). Also, just because you can write novels doesn't mean you'll be great at short stories, and vice versa—so don't feel like you have to master both, or that just writing short stories will help you hone your writing craft overall. Find your thing and then practice, practice, practice!
- Simple but effective: If you are bored writing, the reader is likely bored reading. There is no rule saying you can't shake things up or completely pivot direction in your story when this happens. Better to do that than stay stuck, right?
Are there future projects in the horizon?
Oh my yes!
I need to finish the next two Ryan Rupert books, and I'm currently buried in deadlines for the remaining Starlight Chronicles books. Once all of that is out of the way, I have two other stories that have been waiting patiently in the back of my mind. I won't reveal anything about them yet though.
I know you run a successful business and manage a fantastic Facebook group, could you tell my readers about both?
It would be my pleasure!
As well as writing full time, I run a business called Paperback Kingdom which helps authors to tell and sell their stories through copywriting and coaching.
Whether you aspire to finally write (or just polish) your manuscript, you need help with selling your book, or you simply seek knowledge about publishing, promotion, branding and authorship, I have a range of courses and services that can help: https://paperbackkingdom.com/
To get a taste of what working with me is like (and to join a super engaged and supportive community of ambitious writers), I invite you to come join Happily Ever Author.
It's a completely free Facebook group where you can hang out, ask questions, share wins, and show off your writerly merch (because yes, we are so cool that we have our own merch store!)
Happily Ever Author: https://www.facebook.com/groups/179870559244922/
Where can future fans follow you on social media?
Thank you for an amazing interview! I hope we do this again in December for the launch of your next book.
The questions below are for Pagan's fans. Also, at the beginning, we added a fun question where Pagan answered something I was very curious about.
Pagan, where does your name come from?
My dad’s parents were SUPER religious. Like, controlling religious. They would force my parents to go to church and do all sorts of religious stuff and the only thing that my dad’s parents couldn’t have control over was what they named me. So, they named me Pagan!
(Just in case you don’t know—Pagan means “non believer in God”.)
Anyway, once I was born and they revealed the name they SHAT themselves. They were like “you can’t name her that!”
They would call me “Paige” or “the Baby” and they would insist they need to change my name. They died when I was really young so I don’t know what things would have been like now. I was told that despite my name they absolutely adored me and would hold me in their arms for hours—but the name thing cracks me up every time.
Pagan: Where does your name come from?
Jesú: My parents like your grandparents are very religious. Mexicans often do this thing where they will name kids after a saint for celestial succor or a miracle. When I was born, I was three months premature and needed open heart surgery. They named me Mary of Jesus or Maria de Jesus. Can’t get holier than that. Well, I lived. Thank God.
However, Jesú is my nickname, given to me by Japanese exchange workers my dad used to train in the citrus orchards. They couldn't pronounce the second -s in Jesus, so they would call me Jesú.
The truth is, I wanted to be special and didn’t want to be called Maria like the twenty other Marias in kindergarten, so my nickname stuck. I only answer to Jesú.
[Back to Pagan.]
How did you know you wanted to a writer/be an entrepreneur?
So I am absolutely shocking at math and I legitimately thought business was all about math until I left high school. If you had pulled me aside back then and said:
"Yo Pagan, in three years from now you're going to be running your own business as an entrepreneur."
I would have been like:
And probably would have run for the hills.
As it turns out, I love being a business owner and entrepreneur. I never would have considered it but I sort of fell into it when I realized that I wanted to make money doing what I loved and what I was good at (writing), and that the best way to do that seemed to be by freelancing/working for myself. I always knew I wanted to be an author, but I also didn't believe I could make a full salary from just penning fiction novels (or at least, not for a long, long time). I knew I needed something else to sustain me along the way.
So I finally quit my job, experimented a ton, and I ended up here somehow. That being said, I genuinely and wholeheartedly believe I'm on the right path and wish someone had told me I could be doing this kind of thing a lot sooner.
How do you do it all?
I'm not going to lie—I have a lot of support around me. I currently still live with my dad so when things go to shit (which is more often than you might think), I have help. Building a business for the first time (and being in my second year of it) is very difficult. I can do a lot because I have the time, the flexibility, and I've lined up my priorities. But that being said, I still struggle financially every now and then which causes major setbacks.
I'm sharing this because I want both aspiring authors and aspiring business owners to understand that even when everything looks great on the outside—it's not always. I'm human, just like you! I fall down and I get back up.
Don't feel discouraged if you wish you had more time or money and you're enviously admiring someone else—I bet they don’t have it as together as you may think. You just gotta do your best anyway, and find your own strengths!