Women in SFF Author Spotlight – J Swift (THE ARK)
J Swift is a Sci-fi fanatic who has been working on the Ark series for almost a decade now. With part two coming out this year, its an exciting time to follow this author and immerse yourself in her world.
Welcome to the Hive, Jen. Let’s start small: tell us about a great book you’ve read recently!
I’m working my way through Robert Rankin’s back catalogue. His stories are just so far-fetched, I love them. The one I’m on at the minute is Armageddon the Musical. It’s the first in a trilogy about a hero from the future, Elvis Presley and a talking time sprout called Barry.
I LOVED The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse!
Okay, time to escalate things: reality warps and you suddenly find yourself leading a D&D-style party through a monster-infested dungeon. What character class are you, and what’s your weapon of choice?
Is it cliché to say a bard? I’m currently playing an Aasimer Bloodhunter (thanks Matt Mercer) and it’s a wicked class.
When you’re not singing through dungeons, how do you like to work? (In silence, with music, or serenaded by the damned souls of a thousand dead shrimps? Do you prefer to type or to hand-write? Are you an architect or a gardener? A plotter or a pantser? D’you write in your underwear, or in a deep-sea diver’s suit?)
Tell us a little bit about your writing method!
Oh goodness. Well, I like silence. I can hear my characters voices so much clearer without distraction. I find that I’m a pantser with a plan. I decide how it’s going to go then the characters change their minds and I’m just following them.
What (or who) are your most significant female fantasy influences? Are there any creators whom you dream of working with someday?
I know it’s super mainstream but I kinda love Suzanne Collins and the Hunger Games books. Anything with a strong female lead in a dystopian future and I’m hooked.
What was the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it? Alternatively, what games have you enjoyed recently?
I’ve just started watching Futureman on Amazon. It’s one of the funniest things I’ve watched in a really long time. Josh Hutcherson is pretty legendary in it. 10/10 would recommend.
The world shifts, and you find yourself with an extra day on your hands during which you’re not allowed to write. How do you choose to spend the day?
When I’m not writing, I’m doing Live Action Roleplay. It’s a small group but we’ve been telling a collaborative, high fantasy story together for five years now. It’s always my go to place when I’m free.
Can you tell us a little something about your current work(s) in progress?
I’m working on the third instalment of The Ark series. I’m really excited about where it’s going but I can’t reveal too much, there’s quite an intense ending to the second book that I don’t want to give away.
No spoilers please!
What’s the most (and/or least) helpful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
Someone once told me to write 1500 words a day and never look back on previous days. Just get all your words written. Then you can edit to your heart’s content and craft the story to perfection. It’s the process I follow now and I love it.
Every writer encounters stumbling blocks, be it a difficult chapter, challenging subject matter or just starting a new project. How do you motivate yourself on days when you don’t want to write?
I imagine myself in the world I’ve crafted. Living through the scenario makes me excited to start writing it. Although sometimes my characters take me to a place I don’t want to be. It can become a struggle to reign them back in.
If you could visit any country at any point in history, where/when would you go, and why?
USA in the 50’s, I want to see Elvis in concert.
Who are your favourite female characters in literature or pop culture? And do you have a favourite type of female character you enjoy writing?
My biggest idol is Buffy Summers. She’s so strong yet ultimately needs love around her. I always try to write strong, capable females with big hearts.
Tell us about a book that’s excellent, but underappreciated or obscure.
Otherworld, not many people talk about it but it’s another version of the VR future. It did what Ready Player One did but different. I prefer it.
Finally, would you be so kind as to dazzle us with an elevator pitch? Why should readers check out your work?
Well, from fake bacon to space suits, we have it all in New Amerland. Join Alissa as she navigates the Aptitude Test and finds out she isn’t smart enough to work on The Ark. She will be left behind to die when the Earth burns.
Unless, she is willing to take on a task set by four mysterious men that will lead her down a dark path. Will she sacrifice her own life? Or become a murderer?
That’s brilliant! Thank you so much for joining us today, Jen!