Author Interview with Jessica, Mackenzie, Meredith, and Stephanie Jackson

Posted on November 9, 2013

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Before we get started, here is a little background on our featured authors:

We are the Jackson quadruplets, aka the Jackson quads, aka the Jacksons. Made up of Jessica, Mackenzie, Meredith, and Stephanie. From Fredericksburg, Virginia and are currently in our senior year of college. Our biggest inspirations include our parents and our two older brothers.

Jessica

She goes by Jess and when asked, is quick to let you know that she was the first born. She is outgoing and easily excitable, willing to jump into any opportunity that’s thrown her way without a second of thought. Apart from writing, her interests include sports, playing the guitar (electric, acoustic, and bass), skateboarding, rock music, tattoos, the color red, and autograph collecting.

Mackenzie

She is commonly known as Mack but she responds to both her full name and nickname. She was born second out of the four. She tends to be the quiet, observational one of the girls but spends a lot of her time cracking jokes and trying to get others to laugh. As well as writing she likes to read and cook. Her free time is most often spent playing video games, writing, reading, riding her bike, daydreaming, and watching movies. She dreams of becoming an author, screenwriter, and chef.

Meredith

She is known as Mere. She was born third out of the four. She is the most laid back and tries to keep the peace between the four siblings. As well as writing she likes to play the drums. Her free time is most often spent playing video games and watching movies.

Stephanie

She prefers to go by Steph. She is the youngest of the four. She is a self-described extroverted introvert. She has a sharp eye when it comes to clothes and fashion. She always makes it a point to put others before herself. She will never hesitate to help people in need. In her free time she likes to roller skate, juggle, eat cinnamon candies, and craft.

Do you write under any other names? 

So far, no. We just write under our own names individually and collectively.

What are you currently working on?

We are currently working on our Quadruple or Nothing series. The debut novel ‘Two Pair’ was released in September 2012 when we were 19. The sequel, Four of a Kind is being worked on right now as well.

How many (if any) books do you have published and what are their titles?

Together we have published Two Pair. Jessica has published a short story entitled Pieces of Time and is working on the sequel. Steph has written a series entitled the Bluebonnet Series; the books published so far are Lasso Me a Mom and The Reined Groom. We’re currently working out plans for the rest of the Quadruple or Nothing series, another four book series that tacks on to that, and other projects together and individually.

What inspired you to write your first book?

Our own lives. Being a set of quadruplets is definitely different though we’re used to it at this point. There’s always a funny story to tell or a funny experience to share. We have had our ups and downs being quadruplets, but we would never give it up. Essentially, it started out when we were in eighth grade and thought about having our own TV show. Since then, we’ve worked on ideas for it and then turned it into a book. The book is entirely fiction, though a lot of it has been inspired by things we’ve done, heard, and have had conversations about.

Do you have a specific writing style or one that you prefer?

We try to write where it can be relateable as well as humorous. We love to laugh and we like to make other people laugh as well. Having a good narrative voice we think is what we like to have. A lot of people say that we make characters have realistic conversations and they believe what characters say, so that’s good too.

How did you come up with the title of your book(s)?

Poker theme. The first is Two Pair, the next is Four of a Kind. We can’t reveal the other titles of the book or why for a while, but those who are really smart will get it pretty quickly.

Is there a message in your writing that you want readers to grasp?

That you don’t know what it’s like to be a multiple unless you are one. We get grouped together and generalized a lot. People sometimes don’t understand that we’re four different people, not one big group and that can be really frustrating. Especially when they don’t try to learn our names. What was funny was someone once commented on our book saying that some of the characters were too similar. Considering they’re twins, that’s kinda the point. Haha.

How much of the book is realistic/true?

Not a lot. There are some things that are true to conversations we’ve had and experiences we’ve had, but a lot of it is fiction.

Are the experiences in your writing based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Some of them. 😉

What books have most influenced your life most?

A lot. Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Alex Rider, Gone…most of them have nothing to do with the genre we’re writing in for our book series, but those mostly have been a big influence. We like fantasy/adventure novels and those were some of the bigger ones that we grew up with.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a “mentor”?

Most likely Denise Hunter, though we probably would never be able to live up to her standards. Stephen King, Michael Grant to name a few.

What book are you reading now?

A lot of them.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

A family friend of ours, Mrs. O. As well as the PR director at our university. Oh, and a great friend of ours named Ty. He’s been a great deal of support for us and we’re glad to call him a friend.

Do you see writing as a career or a hobby?

Both. We write as a hobby around our school work and we can see ourselves writing as a career. Either way, it is hard for us to go a day without writing something.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Some of the ideas that we had to format the book seems better now that we think about it, but we’re happy with our finished product.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

We get asked this a lot, haha. We got into reading first by our fifth grade teacher Mrs. Obanon. We got into writing when we entered the sixth grade and took a writing workshop class with Mrs. Clark Evans. We enjoy creating new scenarios and characters.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

An excerpt from Two Pair:

“I’m telling you, we don’t look like them!”
Those are definitely not words that you think that you would have to utter, but when it comes to four teenage girls in Ashburg, California; it’s something they’re frequently saying when they’re constantly confused for someone else.
Ashburg; the city that’s split into rich and not rich, upper and middle class, the snobs and the down-to-earth…that’s how most teenagers perceived it, anyway. The teenagers of Ashburg, California had been brought up the way that the city had been brought up, the rich didn’t look twice at those that were “beneath them” and the middle class hated the rich; they drove their fancy cars and drank the $500 cups of coffee. But what makes it even worse is that they’re split into two high schools that maintained a nasty rivalry ever since they were created.
Ashburg Arts, also known as the Ashburg School for the Performing Arts, is the private school where the rich kids go as their parents believe they should have every opportunity to become famous and to put their talents to their full potential. Established in 1977, some of the most famous actors, actresses, dancers, and fashion designers of their generation had come out of Ashburg Arts. Though they’re a performing arts school they also excel at sports and have many state titles under their belt.
Ashburg Academy is the public school established in 1992 and is the rival of Ashburg Arts and where most of the middle class kids attend. They’re the kind of kids that find their own ways to have fun, and not rely on their parents’ money to do it. They too excel at sports, and their music program is something to be jealous of. Several well known political activists, musicians, and writers have come from this school.
The main reason for their rivalry is the outrage that each school expresses whenever there is a sporting or academic event and the newspapers get the schools’ names mixed up. Add in the fact that there’s the stealing of mascots, and tagging of the school’s colors, it’s been an all out war. The war has gotten even bigger now that there are a set of twins that go to Ashburg Arts and a set of twins that go to Ashburg Academy that don’t see eye to eye.

An excerpt from Four of a Kind:

“You all think we’re the same just because we look alike but we’re not. Why can’t you understand that?”
Those are definitely not words that you think one would ever utter in their lifetime. However, when it comes to four teenage girls in Ashburg, California, it becomes a frequent response once you live a life that is constantly being compared to or mixed up with someone else’s.
Ashburg; the city that’s split into rich and not so rich, upper and middle class, the snobs and the down-to-earth…that’s how most teenagers perceived it, anyway. The teenagers of Ashburg, California have been brought up the way that the city has been brought up: the rich don’t look twice at those that are “beneath them” and the middle class hate the rich. But what makes it even worse is that the teens are split into two high schools that maintained the nasty rivalry ever since they were created. And that rivalry just got a little more intense.
With the New Year on the horizon the season that brings along change now brings along a bitter competition: Prom court. Everyone knows a war is won from the little battles that are fought along the way. Strategy is the main factor behind a win but a little bit of deceit, trickery, and manipulation goes a long way when it comes to the war between Ashburg Academy and Ashburg Arts.
The main driving force for their rivalry is the outrage that each school expresses whenever there is a sporting or academic event and the local newspapers get the schools’ names mixed up. Add in the fact that there’s the stealing of mascots, and tagging of the school’s colors; it’s been an all out war. The war has gotten even bigger now that the lives of the two sets of twins slowly become one.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Making sure that characters’ personalities aren’t so obvious. As well as keeping it interesting all the way through.

Who designed the covers of you books?

We designed the cover of our books. The ones that we have now were, like, the fourth or fifth versions of our covers. The one we have for Two Pair is the ‘sixth month anniversary’ edition, though we’re probably going to keep that one for a long time.

What was the hardest part of writing your any of your works?

Making sure that we have enough instances where it’s people we know…that wouldn’t be offended that they’re in the book. We try to keep it true to life as much as possible, but you don’t really want to put any one off. Not with your first book anyway.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Never stop writing. Even if you don’t like what you have, it’s better to continue doing it to practice. The more you practice, the better you get.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thanks for all of the support that you guys have given us. We hope that you continue to do so as we continue writing.

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing your stories to to life?

Rejection. We started by trying to go to the traditional route and after a while of rejections, we decided to do it ourselves and self-publish.

What character from your writing is your favorite and why?

If not the four main girl characters, then writing the four main guy characters. Getting into a guy’s perspective is always really fun for us. We, sometimes, have to go to our guy friends and ask them if they would ever say something to make it sound more realistic.

Additional Information you’d like to share:

Two Pair was an idea that we had in the eighth grade. We put it on a shelf for a while, started it up again freshmen year of college for NaNoWriMo. Got it done in two weeks and then polished it up and worked on getting it published.

And if we weren’t writers we would be…

At first Jess wanted to be a doctor, but now she would like to be an actress in tv/film, Mack would like to be a chef or a food critic, Mere would like to be a music teacher, and Steph, really, would like to be in any position where she can help others, but it looks like right now she wants to be an English/Music/Piano teacher.

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