Katie: Hello Jack! Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview, so how are you?
Jack Chaucer: Hello Katie. You’re very welcome and it feels great to be interviewed from half a world away. I’m doing very well.
K.: Nice to hear. My first question is, what are your expectations after the book is released on 27 September?
J.: I’m not sure what to expect, but I’ve been immersed in this dark subject matter since January and it feels refreshing to have completed that journey and to step into the light again. This was an extremely tough book to write. I live a fairly short drive from where the Newtown shootings took place last December and I have twin 2-year-olds of my own, so it was one of those events that makes your heart stop. Very crushing. I was thinking about a possible sequel to my last novel, “Queens are Wild,” but after what happened in Newtown, I knew I would either write nothing at all for quite a while or I would have to write about the subject of school shootings. Eventually, I decided to take it head on and go for it. “Streaks of Blue” is the result of grappling with that issue virtually every day for eight months. I’m proud of the way the book turned out. I wrote it from the heart and I wouldn’t change a thing.
My expectations are that the book will generate quite a bit of interest — it already has based on the 230-plus requests from all over the world for a pre-pub copy on NetGalley prior to its release. I also think it has the potential to stir up a lot of discussion, particularly with the first anniversary of Newtown coming up in December. Many requests for the book have come from high school, junior high school and college librarians.
As for sales, I have no idea. I’m basically an unknown indie author doing everything myself, so I would be blown away with any kind of significant sales. I’m very curious to see what happens. I hope it does really well, especially since I’m donating half of the proceeds to the Newtown Memorial Fund.
K.: I loved Nicole very much, and she inspired me to reconnect with my own classmates, Who, if it isn’t a secret, inspired you to write Nicole?
J.: I’m so glad Nicole inspired you to reconnect with your own classmates. That’s probably the best compliment an author could hope for when he or she creates a character. There is no real person who inspired Nicole. She is someone I just started with as an ordinary good person who enjoys hiking in the mountains and tries to do the right thing. She is strong, adventurous, optimistic and kind of a deep thinker about life. She is a little too trusting for her own good. And I would say her character continued to grow and deepen as she and I went through this pressure cooker of a plot line together.
K.: Who was your favourite character you wrote about?
J.: I would say it’s a tie between Candace and Caleb. Candace is another very strong person who kind of gets sucked into some very tough situations because of her friendship with Nikki. It was interesting to write how she dealt with those situations — keeping her mouth shut on the tense hike with Adam and Nikki even though she wanted to say plenty … instead she wears a shirt that says “You Can’t Handle This” across her chest; texting Nikki from the bathroom during the fire alarm; getting into a fistfight with Valerie; dealing with the school administrators; pounding the steering wheel outside the police station and driving away.
Caleb has a minor role but an important role in the story. His disability (cerebral palsy) and the way he gets mocked in the cafeteria kind of sets the whole detention/suspension plot in motion. I also loved writing the scene with his parents telling him he didn’t have to get up for school the day after everything went down. It just showed how an average good sophomore kid, who had enough struggles of his own, got blindsided by the ripple effect of gun violence. He had just become friends with Nikki, sat with her at the football game and suddenly there was a chance she could be taken away in the blink of an eye. It’s a scary world right now.
I would add that I also enjoyed writing Anderson Cooper into this book. I liked having him interview Nikki on live TV. Their conversation was one of my favorite scenes to write in the entire book.
K.: What do you think, is it easier to write about a good or a bad character and why?
J.: For me, no character is easy to write. Bad or good, it’s very challenging to create a fictional person and make he or she seem real. It has taken me three or four novels to finally get to the point where I feel my characters truly seem unique, deep and authentic.
K.: I guess this is the question I’m most afraid and excited to ask, Why Blue Streaks? Why not red or purple?
J.: It was always blue. The mountain climbing theme was always running through my approach with this book. I used to climb the White Mountains of New Hampshire when I was kid with my father and his friend Vin. The blue streaks of paint on the trees and rocks are real. They really do mark the trails up there. So Nikki having blue streaks of hair and being a trailblazer in her own right just made great thematic sense. I also pictured blue streaks of mascara … tears for Newtown and every other school shooting we’ve had. We are very much in a streak of blue, a streak of sadness right now with all of the lives that have been lost. I also think Nikki’s poem “Streaks of Blue” in the story captures the soul of the book.
K.: Are you going to write another such great novel soon? I myself am really excited to read your other works.
I don’t have anything definite in the works at the moment. My goal is to attempt to write a trilogy, but I don’t really know what direction I’m going with it yet. After writing four novels in four years, my brain is a bit fried. I need some time to read, relax and get inspired again. My previous three novels are all out there and available. “Rocco & the Russian Mountains” and “Freeway & the Vin Numbers” are both young adult stories that can be read for free on Booksie.com
. Just do a search for Jack Chaucer and you’ll find them. “Queens are Wild” is an adult sci-fi thriller with a 17-year-old female protagonist named Margeaux Quigley. She gets sucked into a real, time-warp chess match that transports her from her high school classroom in 1984 to a place called Area 52 in 2036. There is an attempt to overthrow the U.S. government and the first female president that year, and Margeaux is tasked with helping checkmate a bad guy named Robert “Balls” Ballentine. “Queens are Wild” is available in paperback ($11.99) on Amazon and in e-book form ($2.99) at just about every online retailer. It truly is a wild, unique and unpredictable story that has drawn dozens of rave reviews. But, because it has a largely unknown author, “Queens are Wild” remains unknown to most of the world. Perhaps “Streaks of Blue” and this fun interview will change that!
K.: I hope it will, and Thank you Again for the interview. Good luck with everything!
J.: Thanks for the interview Katie!