Friday, April 12, 2013

Interview 19: Jacqueline Malcolm

Greetings humans, half-breeds, and everything in between. A while back, I had the pleasure to interview my new friend, Jacqueline Malcolm. She is visiting the ECS as a guest and sharing loads of interesting insights into her work. Be sure to look around and see what she has to offer. Here are the results of our interview. A good time was truly had by all, and here’s how it went down.

Hi there Jacqueline! It’s so awesome to have you here at the ECS Universe. Don’t worry about the darkness, your eyes will adjust.

So tell me, who is Jacqueline Malcolm?

I was born in Northampton, England, the youngest of 3 sisters to Jamaican-born parents. The love of theatre and writing started from a very young age. Before I was 10 years old I would write poems and post them through various neighbors letter boxes so they could have something nice to read. I enjoyed a full career in event management and administration to an executive level before taking a career change to study acting (New York and London) which propelled me into writing and producing stage plays for the fringe theaters of London plus many other commissioned and inspired pieces.

Wow, I’m sure growing up with three sisters must have been interesting. I think it’s so cool that you’ve had a love for writing and theatre since you were a kid. Though I have no talent for it, and am a professed movie buff, I too appreciate theatre in a way that doesn’t compare to the cinema.

So whacha got for me today?

SLAVE: Escaping the Chains of Freedom is Book 1 of SLAVE: The
Trilogy and is set in 18th Century New York. It follows the life of freed slave, Hezekiah Thomas, who, through a concoction of chance and opportunity is faced with the decision whether to go against all of his convictions and become an owner of slaves. The aim of the book is firstly, to explore the possible motives behind the reported black slave owners and traders of that period and, secondly, to take a look into our own hearts to question how far would we go for a profit?

I must just go ahead and applaud you now for taking on such a dynamic and controversial topic. From what little I know about the truth of the American (U.S.) slave trade, there were several reasons why and how a former slave may have become a slave owner and or trader, but even after knowing all the facts, good or bad, this is still a hard topic to truly understand. 

 So who’s starring is this 2 dimensional script read of SLAVE: Escaping the Chains of Freedom?

Of course the main character is Hezekiah Thomas himself. A mulatto freed slave who has actually enjoyed quite a comfortable and happy life living in the home of his father, the white General and his loving, supportive and strong wife, Betsy. The dark cloud in his life is his envious half-brother, James Thomas IV (who, by the way, is the main character of Book 2, Slave Brothers) and James’ embittered, almost hateful wife, Gloria. Hezekiah’s main mentor becomes a black slave trader, Albert Shelton who is the one to entice Hezekiah into slave ownership (and, I should mention, is the main character of Book 3, The Trade). The other key players are Ruth Thomas, Hezekiah’s and Betsy’s only daughter; Ezekiel, Hezekiah’s first slave who he begins to see and treat more like a son and Adam Shelton, Albert’s only son who becomes Ruth’s fiancĂ©. I try to write strong, realistic characters so they all play both hero and villain – even Hezekiah. For some reason, I wanted to show that we’re all flawed at the end of the day.

I like the idea of characters being both villains and heroes. In real life it’s all about perspective. A do-gooder may be liked by many, but someone out there may not like what they are doing. Sometimes people make good and bad decision based on the extenuating circumstances in their lives. With this lineup of characters, this is sure to be an intense read.

Past, present, future, is there a rhyme or reason to your writing?

I love to write with a wide view, if that makes any sense. I can’t be in a small, confined space as my imagination just doesn’t work the same. I’m very blessed in that, at the moment, I live on a small Island in Greece so most of the time I’m either in a beautiful cafĂ© overlooking the Port or I’m sitting at home either on my balcony overlooking hills or, if it’s too old, I’m in my bedroom by patio windows – overlooking hills!! I drink probably about 10 cups of hot tea a day – even in the summer and I just lose myself in the story. At the moment I’m working on Book 2, The Trade – getting it finished for the publishers. The deadline is April 1st so I’ve gotta hustle!!! :D

Now that sounds peaceful. In an environment like that, I’m sure you imagination has time to sour. I enjoy hot tea too, even in the summer, but every now and then I have to give into my Southern (U.S.) roots and have a cup of iced tea.

What author(s) has most influenced your writing? Why or how?

I love everything and anything written by Philippa Gregory. Her
ability to build a character and spread them open for us on the page is magnificent and I’m a lover of historical fiction which is her genre. But one of the series of books that inspired me most were authored by Manda Scott who wrote the Boudica Series. I was half way through the first book and realized very little action had actually happened and yet I couldn’t put it down. It showed me that readers respond more to characters than they do to action – so that’s how I try to write – let the characters tell their own story.

I am a little familiar with Gregory’s work. It’s hard not to be after having her books turned into movies. I too like historical fiction, though again, I have no talent for it. The Boudica series sounds like it’s definitely worth looking into, even if only from a writing technique point of vew.

 Whose brain are you just itching to scratch?

This is a more difficult question to answer. There are so many people for so many different reasons: Madonna because, with very little talent, she has become one of the biggest icons of our time. And I really don’t mean that as an insult to her at all. She hasn’t got the best voice, the best moves or anything – but yes, I would pay hundreds to go and see her perform. She holds a key to a secret that millions of young people would value a great deal from learning: Then there’s people like Myra Hindley – and again I know it’s strange that I would want to interview a serial killer monster, but I just can’t fathom what goes through a person’s mind that makes them want to torture and kill the innocent. So now you might understand why I say the list is endless.

Again wow! I must say, you are bold. I love that you are so honest, most people would hold back on a question like this, but not you. I can understand where you’re coming from. I can’t image what goes through the mind of a living icon or a serial killer, but these are the people that others read about and write about. These are the people that fictional characters are based on. There could surely be some benefit to getting to know what on the mind of someone like that.

Who is so you and why?

It’s normally anyone with very strong controlling tendencies!! My
sister summed it up perfectly recently when she says I’m like Ben Hurr, the Chariot scene when he’s racing against his enemy, whipping his horses, charging forward filled with mayhem and danger; accept she says I’m like that just going around the shopping market! Had to laugh.

That’s funny and actually not a bad comparison. To have that kind of concentrated fanatical determination has to be good for something.

What’s your ideal reading spot for your next highly anticipated read?
John Campbell’s newest e-book, Walk to Paradise Garden is my next read that I’m excited about. He’s an emerging author like me and I really like his style of writing. I think he’s one to look for!! I also want to read the paperbacks of the Game of Thrones Series by George R. R. Martin. I’m loving the TV series so can’t wait to get stuck into those. I also really want to get into the Black Count by Tom Reiss – again, the subject matter is so close to mine it intrigues me.

I’ve read book one of the Game of Throne series and it was really good. I plan to read the rest eventually, but I have seen the show. The Black Count sounds like a good read and the cover is definitely enticing.

What was your favorite book or story, pre-teen years?

There was a series of books called My Naughty Little Sister which
my sister used to read to me at night. She would always make references to me so that book always brings back good memories. But apart from that we grew up on all the fairy tales of wizards, witches and princesses and loved them all.

I can’t believe I grew up not knowing about this series. I may just have to look into that. It sounds like a really cute concept…Now this is where the questions get a little kooky; are you ready?

Love it!

Alright then, here we go.

If you could only watch one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be?

How do I answer? Movies are selected according to my mood so if I’m a bit grey then I have to watch something dark and if I’m bubbling with excitement then I’m looking for a rom-com. So, let’s imagine my life was going to be wonderfully blissful for the rest of my days, then I would probably go with Seven Brides for Seven Brothers with Howard Keel and Jane Powell – and no, I’m not kidding!! J

LOL! Of all the musicals out there to pick, I must admit that I didn’t see that one coming. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good film, just not what I was expecting. I do, however, adore your reasoning for choosing it. It would be nice to think that everything from this moment forward will be blissful. Good choice.

What makes you geek out?

I looooove travelling. Been to a few places but not the entire globe by far. For instance, I’ve been to India but never to China. I’ve been to many parts of Africa but not South Africa. And I’ve been to Mauritius but not Australia. Seen many places but so many more still to visit.

Looooove this answer. I want to travel, but just haven’t been able to really do it the way I want to at this point, but there’s always hope for the future.

 So what’s testing your patience right now?

Well living on a small Greek Island, I could say that’s pretty much
every movie in the year that I’ve been here. But the one I really want to see is the new slave movie, Django Unchained obviously because it’s the same theme as my book so I already love the theme and am excited to see what angle they’ve taken it.

I never thought about how life could be different on an island in a bad way. I guess you probably do have to wait a while to see the latest films. I saw DJANGO. It was entertaining, but not to be taken too seriously. It’s an extreme view of slavery, though accurate in so many ways, it just outrageous in others.

When the soundtrack of your life is playing in your head, what songs express your glee and what songs bring out your rage?

Andre Bocelli and Mary J. Blige sing a duet of What Child is This? <= listen. And I could (and often do) listen to that song for hours. The songs that make me want to scream are those where it’s obvious the composer hasn’t really given the lyrics any thought and are just singing empty words or some girl is singing about how she can’t live without her man!!

Awesome, I really like this answer. This question is always one of my favorites. I agree with you, there are very few talented lyricists making good music these days…and that is a good rendition of this song.

What’s the most fun experience you’ve ever had, to date?

Oh, wow, these are too many to count but more because I tend to enjoy most the simplest things in life. My days are filled with laughter just being with my family so every dinner time is fun. I guess the bigger things would be going to the airport with one of my best friends and jumping on the first plane available, and ending up in Milan; or landing in Nice and jumping onto a helicopter to our hotel in Monte Carlo; or taking a 26-hour coach ride from London to the Czech Republic; or flying off to Venice just for lunch; or enjoying breakfast at The Savoy and afternoon tea at The Ritz. Those kind of experiences will be part of my life-long memories because they don’t happen often so when they do I kind of soak up every minute of it.

You have an amazing life. Not everyone has the ability to live life the way you do and so many of the ones who do, unfortunately choose to sit at home and watch tv and youtube videos or work their life away making more money they don’t really need.

 Remind me again how I was lucky enough to meet you?

Someone sent me a link of your site and said, ‘Jacquie, you should contact her – she sounds great’ – and they were right J

I love word of mouth, it’s my friend. I truly enjoy meeting new people and have enjoyed this lovely time we’ve spent together.

Not that you can see into the future, but in your opinion, what does the future hold?

In the next five years I’m not sure if I’ll still be living in Greece but I’m pretty sure it will be somewhere just as beautiful, possibly in Italy or the South of France. I’ve always wanted to retire in Monte Carlo so who knows, maybe that dream will come to pass by then.

Ok humans, half-breeds, and everything in between, that’s all for today. Be sure to follow this blog to see who will be visiting next time. For more from Jacqueline Malcolm, check out these great links:

A Review of SLAVE…:
A Press Release for SLAVE…: