I challenge anyone not to love Jacqueline Ramsden. I mean, what is there about them NOT to love?! A fabulous and talented author whose stories never fail to warm the heart (especially The Art of Growing, which I read in one day and am reviewing on my newsletter in a few days time!) and a beautiful soul… I could go on! She and Lily Seabrooke (who I interviewed here just a few days ago) recently released a jointly-written novel, One Last Shot, which you DO NOT want to miss. I mean, two of everyone’s favourite writers in one book? Hello??
But I’ll let Jacqueline take over for now!
Hi Jacqueline! Introduce yourself! Tell us a little bit about you - who are you, and what do you do?
Hello! I'm Jacqueline and I... am terrible at talking about myself! Haha. I'm an author and have been writing sapphic romance for a couple of years now. A number of my books contain nonbinary and/or asexual characters, because I am both and love that rep! You'll also get a healthy serving of mental health/mental illness rep in my stories because I am a ball of anxiousness.
What made you want to sit down and write your first book?
Someone telling me I could and that it wasn't a silly dream, I think. Writing had been something I'd done casually, I'd written a lot of poetry, but I didn't really believe anyone would want to read a book I'd written. Getting permission to do it gave me the impetus to try. The second one came pretty quickly after the first, and then they just didn't stop coming. (At least so far...!)
How do you develop your plots and characters?
Most often by ruminating on a concept for days or weeks. A spark of an idea usually comes to me with a vague character idea, often a bit about the setting, and the knowledge of where the story needs to end up. Then I sit with it, think it over, develop it more in my mind, start texting myself notes, flesh out the characters and setting, and then start writing. Everything gets way more developed once the writing starts.
Which of your characters do you relate to the most, and why?
Sloane from The Art of Growing. Any of my characters who struggle with their mental health are dealing with stuff I'm dealing with, or have dealt with, but Sloane is probably the closest to me in how she responds to those struggles. Plus, the family stuff and her demisexuality... I'm also not averse to talking to plants. Or inanimate objects in general, really.
Has your own writing ever made you cry?
It's made me emotional a few times, but I haven't cried at my own writing the way I cry at other people's books. I cry very easily, so perhaps that's surprising, but I think knowing what happens next helps me contain the tears a little when it's my own writing. Plus, the minute I start making myself emotional, I end up stepping back because I'm left thinking, 'Oh, maybe I'm doing an okay job?!' and my brain doesn't know how to process that!
Does anyone you know in real life read your books?
My girlfriend, Lily Seabrooke, of course, and my therapist might have, but I've never asked. I feel like they're exactly the type of person to read indie sapphic books but, as mentioned, I'm very anxious and my books would likely be a field day for them, which is mildly terrifying.
Imagine your book, or one of your books, was made into a film. Who would play the lead roles?
Oh my gosh, I'm SO bad at this question! Because I have aphantasia, I can't picture people in my mind, which means I'm always forgetting what characters look like, and I have such a hard time picturing actors playing them. If people have suggestions, please send them to me so I can look at pictures and get a better idea of how everyone sees my characters!
When you’re not writing, what do you do to relax?
Read books written by the ridiculously talented people I somehow get to be in the same community as, binge watch TV shows, rewatch comfort shows and movies (I LOVE a rewatch), and bake bread. Lily is the chef extraordinaire in our house, but I love me some bread baking.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given with regards to being an author?
Don't read your reviews. I think that's good advice for most people, but given my anxiety, even the good ones can be tough for me if I'm having a rough mental health moment. I don't mind people popping into my DMs to talk about the book or share their review if it's really kind and they want me to see it, and I am so ridiculously grateful to everyone who reads and spends time reviewing my books (I still can't believe people do that!), but I will generally avoid them. And, after all, they're for the readers, not me.
How about in general life?
It's okay to have needs. I don't know if that really counts as advice, but I needed to hear it, and I'm working on believing it.
How can people connect with you?
You can find me on Twitter and Instagram, @Jac_Ramsden, and I'm also on Mastodon under my whole name. If you want to have an actual conversation with me, you're best off dropping me a DM or emailing me because I can be a little shy on social media.
Finally a light-hearted one. If you were a sandwich, what sandwich would you be?
Ah, I love sandwiches! Let's start with the bread: a seeded whole wheat, definitely, and, once we're done assembling, we're going to cut it into triangles. On the bread, we're going to have mayo and a dab of wholegrain mustard, followed by cheese (a cheddar type) and tomatoes. Delicious!
If you enjoyed this interview, then make sure you’re following my social media accounts (@kblakemanwriter on Twitter and @katherineblakemanwriter on Instagram) to get all the latest updates! And if you want to support my own Sapphic Fiction journey while you’re here, my new novel The Summer We’ve Had is available now!