Award winning and USA Today Bestselling author, Jessica Cage was born and raised in Chicago, IL. Writing has always been a passion for her. She dabbles in artistic creations of all sorts but at the end of the day, it’s the pen that her hand itches to hold. Jessica had never considered following her dream to be a writer because she was told far too often “There is no money in writing.” So she chose the path most often traveled. During pregnancy, she asked herself an important question. How would she be able to inspire her unborn son to follow his dreams and reach for the stars, if she never had the guts to do it herself? Jessica decided to take a risk and unleash the plethora of characters and their crazy adventurous worlds that had previously existed only in her mind, into the realm of readers. She did this with hopes to inspire not only her son but herself. Inviting the world to tag along on her journey to become the writer she has always wanted to be. She hopes to continue writing and bringing her signature Caged Fantasies to readers everywhere.
1) First, I want to thank you Jessica for taking the time to do this interview with me, I am truly honored! When did you know that writing is what you were called to do with your life? What is it about being a writer that you love the most?
It may sound cliché, but the thing I love the most about being an author is simply being able to reach people with my words. For so long I was afraid of sharing that side of myself, but now that I have put my work out there, I get a high knowing that new readers are absorbing the fantasies that have lived inside my mind for so long.
2) Can you tell us a little about your book(s) and where our readers can find out more about them and you?
I write predominantly Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance Novels that feature characters of color. It was important to me when I began writing to create worlds that represented the one I lived in. I wanted storylines with a diverse character line up because that was what I saw in my everyday life. As a young woman who loved fantasy, it was hard to read stories that had a casts of characters that were all Caucasian or, if they did have a character of color it was usually a very minor and forgettable role. I wanted to address that in my own writing. Readers can always find out more about me and my books by visiting my website, www.jessicacage.com.
3) What inspires you to write in the specific genre that you write in? Where does the vision for your characters and the stories that they tell come from?
I am inspired by my childhood. My grandmother had a love of books, and my mother a love of fantasy, paranormal, and sci-fi. Their passions blended into one to form my own. I get inspiration from all areas of life. My most popular series, The Siren Series, was inspired by a dream I had. I would get visions of this red tailed siren and eventually I couldn’t help myself, I had to write it down! Her world has been one of the most exciting ones to write.
4) With more than fifteen titles to your credit what kind of writing routine have you designed for yourself to keep you on task with your productivity? Do you keep a set schedule for different aspects of your work? Do you outline your novels? How long does it typically take you to finish a novel?
I have gone through so many different schedules for myself and I’m getting better at keeping to them as time goes on. I am a pantser at heart, but in recent years, I’ve grown to understand the value in outlining a novel ahead of time. So I’ve blended the two and typically create a very bare, skeletal outline for my books before I begin to write them. Currently to get a first draft and hit it with a couple revisions before it heads to editing it takes me about six solid weeks of writing. Balancing work life and mom life with author life gets a tad tricky but I think for the most part I’ve managed to conquer the challenge.
5) What has been your most significant achievement as a writer thus far? What projects are you currently working on? Where do you see yourself within your career in the next five years?
I could mention awards or best seller tags, but honestly, my most significant moment/ achievement was the first time a reader was truly excited to meet me. I was at a signing in Texas and a long time reader and lover of my work ran to me when the doors first opened. As an author there is no better feeling when you hear that stampede at the start of the convention and there are actually readers who are running to see you! It was the best moment ever and I will never forget that feeling!
6) What’s the first book you ever read that really touched you emotionally and moved you? What was one of your favorite childhood books and authors? What book are you currently reading?
The first book that truly stands out in my memory was Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree. It was close to home, a young girl in the city faced with many of the same issues I was. At the time I just enjoyed how I was able to connect with the character. I believe that is something that still inspires my writing. I want characters that are relatable and realistic and horribly yet beautifully flawed. Currently I am reading a lot of self help and educational books, but getting my fantasy fix with Seas of Crimson Silk by Emma Hamm.
7) How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career? What are your thoughts about how the publishing industry has drastically changed just within the last decade in terms of traditional publishing versus self-publishing?
I’ve learned to get a thick skin. You can’t make it in this or any other industry if you don’t. Rejection is a part of the learning and growth process. I’ve taken the mentality of learning from constructive notes and shaking off all the rest. As my grandmother once told me, “Not everyone is going to like you, but that doesn’t stop you from being you.” My shine is just as bright even if someone else doesn’t see it. As far as the changes in the industry, I think we all have to accept that we aren’t exempt from the natural laws of the world. There will always be growth and change and not all of the changes will be well received. The best we can do is stay informed and adapt to the changes as they come.
8) Do you believe that there is ever a point in life where it’s too late for an aspiring writer to become successful in this industry? Do you feel a late start would hinder their chances?
I don’t think life has any deadlines for chasing your dreams. I’d rather someone put their first book out at 80 than to have never written the story that lived inside of them. I think we have so many examples of people who’ve gotten “late starts” and have grown to tremendous success. Getting out there early doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll succeed or win the race, just means you started the run a little earlier in life.
9) So many writers say that they hate reading their own work? How do you feel about going back and reading your own work once it’s done as the reader and not the writer?
I love it! It’s the best feeling especially knowing where I’ve come from. I love recognizing where my writing has gotten stronger and how my style has evolved over time. There is something amazing about having a tangible representation of yourself and all your stages. That is what my books are, they represent me and with each publication I get a bit better, a bit stronger, and as long as I can see that continuing to happen, I will always enjoy going back and reading my previous works.
10) I feel like writing is a remarkable tool to help people not only express themselves, but also to cope emotionally and mentally. I know for me I write to be and feel more authentic. What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity? How does writing help you to be more empowered in your purpose?
I stay true to my characters. I refuse to force them to be anything other than what they truly are. That sounds weird, but I always say that I am a recorder of these new worlds. These characters allow me to look in and share their stories and for that reason I feel my work is authentic. It is unique in the way that even I am shocked by a lot of what goes on. I also have always loved blending mediums, in art as well as life and it seems that my books take the same note. There are a lot of new creatures that I don’t think you’ll find anywhere else that appear in my works. It is exciting to create something new, something that feels fresh.
My writing has been this amazing outlet for growth. As an adult I’ve been focused on trying to always improve and grow and my writing has allowed me that platform. I not only grow as an author, and a businesswoman, but I’ve grown as a person and my dreams and aspirations have grown as well. There is so much more that I want, so much more that I want to do. I know that my writing, that sharing my creations with the world, will allow me those opportunities to reach even further.