Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Jackary Salem Interview - Where the Lightning Goes

Photo Content from Jackary Salem 

Jackary Salem is a fantasy author from Kingsport, Tennessee. She majored in neuroscience at Berea College with equal emphasis in biology and psychology. Her passions are writing, editing, and her cat, Chihiro. She’s currently working as a full-time author and developmental editor, preparing to release her debut novel Where the Lightning Goes.

When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
I’ve always loved writing, but my mom made it very clear that authors make no money, and if I were to be an author, I would starve to death. She suggested I be a doctor instead. As someone who both wanted to please their parents and did not want to starve to death, I reasoned that I could be a doctor and write on the side. I went to college and got a degree in neuroscience with full intentions of going to med school for pediatric oncology. I took a gap year on my advisor’s recommendation to volunteer (i.e., pad my resume) and study. I was three books into my MCAT prep before I realized I was bored. It hit me, then, that I wasn’t just committing to another four year program or a six year residency. I was lining up the rest of my life. I was making a career out of something I found boring. I talked to my boyfriend that night, and with his affirmation that neither of us really cared about money, I switched tracks to pursue creative writing instead. I’ve never looked back.

Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of your genre?
My all-time favorite book is actually seven books: The Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix. I love the premise, the pacing, and the reveals. I also wish he’d never written it so that I could go in and write that premise myself. It’s glorious.

Outside my genre, my favorite book is probably The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King. The entire book is about a single girl who gets lost in the woods, trying to survive with no knowledge, no supplies, and no help. I have no idea how he managed to make that premise interesting the entire way through, and I’ll forever give King props for it.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
My most rewarding experience post-publishing was the moment a stranger asked me what I’d written, and I had an actual physical product to point them towards. I’ve always worried about my ability to sell myself, as any time someone asked me what I’d written pre-publishing, my answer was something along the lines of, “Oh, nothing yet,” followed by awkward silence. Now that I know I have a product I can be confident in, I have no problems talking myself up.

Has reading a book ever changed your life? Which one and why, if yes?
Poison by Chris Wooding changed my life. It was the first book to make me admire an author and my first time thinking, “I want to write a story like that.”

Can you tell us when you started WHERE THE LIGHTNING GOES, how that came about?
I wrote Where the Lightning Goes because I wanted to see if it was possible to write a story with such a large reveal and so many clues hanging out in the open that it would be a completely different read the second time through. I also wanted to play with a cast of unreliable narrators, where multiple truths are presented, and it’s up to the reader to decide who, if anyone, is correct.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your characters?
The most surprising thing for me was probably how easily they formed (or didn’t form) relationships with one another. I’d had the thought in my head that the cast would all basically like and dislike each other equally, but they connected in unexpected ways and ended up creating their own little clique, hierarchical set-up and all.

  • 1) Elle is asexual, panromantic.
  • 2) If Elle (the protagonist) hadn’t gone after Perun (the antagonist), he would have left her alone. She was the instigator.
  • 3) Cypress was the very first demon in existence.
  • 4) The earth in Where the Lightning Goes only has one continent. The rest of the world is water.
  • 5) Magic is not genetic, but there’s a widespread belief that people with powerful magic are more likely to have children with powerful magic. Thus, arranged marriages are common in magical societies.
  • 6) Magical artifacts can level the playing field against magicians. Some of the most feared bounty hunters in history were magicless.
  • 7) There is no single ruling government for the continent at large. Most settlements are either monarchies or dictatorships, though democracies do exist. All Impossible Markets are anarchic.
  • 8) The demon realm is an entirely separate dimension from Earth, with its own magic and its own set of rules.
  • 9) Leslie’s favorite food is plain German-style cheesecake. There are no sentimental memories attached to it, and he’s not a huge fan of sweets. He just really likes the taste.
  • 10) There is no major religion in Where the Lightning Goes. Religions (and lack thereof) often differ by settlement and culture. Elle believes there is a higher power out there, but she neither knows nor cares what it is.
What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning?
“Can I go back to sleep?”

What is your most memorable travel experience?
I had an eighteen hour layover in Detroit and ended up at the bar beneath my hotel. I chatted with an eighty-five-year-old man who was in town for his son’s robotics tournament for around an hour. Right after an in-depth discussion about both our happy marriages, he invited me up to his room. I declined. He invited again. I declined again. He left. Ten minutes later, he calls me (I’d given him my business card), and invites me up again. I once again declined, and the man next to me (a pilot) asked if that was the old man I’d been talking to. I said yes, then asked him to be my cover if the old man came back down. We chatted and watched a hockey game until around one AM, at which point the old man re-emerged. Both the pilot and the bartender very politely asked him to leave, and we all finished the hockey game in peace.

Have you ever stood up for someone you hardly knew?
Yes. I was in high school gym, where everyone had to walk ten laps at the beginning of class. Four football players were circling (yes, literally circling) a single girl as she walked, teasing her about who-knew-what. I slowed down and entered the circle. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I know they scattered. I walked with her the rest of the semester.

Now, for me, it was more being irritated with bullies than defending the defenseless, and I probably would have never thought about it again if not for her mom. You see, my dad did taxes for her parents, and our dads unilaterally decided we should have a sleepover. During that sleepover, while she was listening to her dad’s garage band practice, her mom pulled me aside. I’ll never forget how her mom cried as she stated, over and over again, how thankful she was to know someone was sticking up for her daughter. And I honestly think that was the first time it hit me that words matter. That a single act, decided in a single moment, can have a monumental impact.

What do you usually think about right before falling asleep?
Stories, mostly. Sometimes they’re random. Sometimes they’re a part of a story I’m writing or a book I’ve already finished. I play it out in my head like watching a movie, then I’m out.

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before?
I would choose not to have loved, hands down. Loving is wonderful and fantastic, but rumination is real. That kind of pain doesn’t go away, and there’s no guarantee I’ll ever find love again after that first true love ends. (It’s important to note that I’m imagining a traumatic, deathly end, as if we just broke up, the love wasn’t “true.”) I’m going to disagree with Shakespeare here. Better never to have loved at all.

What event in your life would make a good movie?
The story of how my husband and I got together. We went to the same college, same year. He liked me from the very beginning, and he offered to tutor me in math as a way to get closer to me. I, in turn, avoided him for the next three years (i.e., until I had no more math classes) because I thought he would make me do my homework early. We finally started talking the summer before senior year, at which point he jumped off a cliff, hit the rocks instead of the water, and ended spending the rest of the summer recovering. I’d just assumed he’d ghosted me and moved on. We reconnected halfway through the next semester at one of his soccer games.

After a powerful wizard tears Elle’s soul apart and steals her memories, she’s locked in a house to rot. Her only remaining memory is of falling from the sky, though even that raises more questions than it answers. Upon her escape, she falls into a world that’s equal parts vicious and beautiful. Magic is everywhere, everyone is out for themselves, and every truth is accompanied by a lie. Her lack of memories grows maddening and painful. She’s positive that the key to recovering her memories is in the sky-castle from her dreams, but getting there will require magic she doesn’t have. Traversing an enchanted painting, stealing a sword from a dragon’s den, and outwitting a demon are only the beginning. And this time, she’s got more than freedom and memories on the line.

Without magic, there is no survival.

You can purchase Where the Lightning Goes at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you JACKARY SALEM for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Where the Lightning Goes by Jackary Salem.

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