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Author Interview: Jaycie Morrison Chats about A Perfect Fifth

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Get ready to learn more about the book A Perfect Fifth in this discussion with sapphic author Jaycie Morrison.

Join us for an exclusive peek behind the scenes as we quiz Jaycie Morrison about A Perfect Fifth, writing, reading, and more.

This book is part of the Royal Romance category in the 2024 IHS Reading Challenge.

Why did you write A Perfect Fifth?

I wanted to write about a musician, but not a rock star, exactly. (That may come later.) I’d also spent a few fantastic days in London researching a different book, and wanted to include that amazing city in at least part of a story. For some readers, becoming aware of one’s sexuality and/or coming out, may not be a big thing, but I set this story at a time and in a situation where that was not the case. I think it’s good for us to remember our not too distant past and to be reminded that some folks still struggle with becoming their authentic selves.

Who is your favorite character in the book?

Zara is my favorite character in this book, at least partly for her musical talent. She makes me wish I hadn’t given up on piano lessons when I was nine, though the guitar suits me better and it’s easier to bring with you. Zara and I are both stubborn, but also romantic. I don’t think I have her kind of courage, though.

What inspired the idea for A Perfect Fifth?

I had a dream about five friends, each of whom had a special talent, and they ended up needing all of those talents to save the world. I don’t write sci-fi (yet?), so when I began writing about five friends, it went very differently. Some of their various interests made it into the book, but the saving the world part got lost in edits. 😉

What was the biggest challenge writing this book?

This book has five different narrators, and I will never EVER do that again.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

In Western music, a perfect fifth is a particular interval of notes that’s considered especially pleasing. And there’s the whole five character thing, so that made it fit too.

How much research did you need to do for A Perfect Fifth?

A LOT. Everything from stops on the Tube, to musical terminology. Even though I sometimes spend way too much time going down the rabbit hole of the Internet, I actually like doing research. Not everything makes it into print, but it helps me feel more confident about what I’m writing. (Several reviews were positive about the use of music in A Perfect Fifth, so I guess that part paid off.)

What is your writing process like?

Definitely a pantser. I love it when the story takes an unexpected turn, or when a minor character takes on a bigger role, but that often means I have to go back and layer in some additional narrative. That part makes me psycho.

Where do you usually write, and what do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused?

I have a home office where I do most of my writing. I need a decent block of time and quiet to really do anything productive. Early morning is good, but if I work too late at night, there may be complaints about playing with my imaginary friends instead of coming to bed with the real thing.

What’s your favorite writing snack or drink?

Snack – anything salty. (I especially like the combination of different cereals, peanuts, and pretzels that my family used to call “Trash.” I’ll see if I can dig up the recipe.) My favorite drink during that midday slump is Mountain Dew. I know it’s terrible stuff but it gives me that caffeine and sugar boost I need. Besides, a girl’s gotta have at least one vice, right?

How do you celebrate when you finish your book?

My favorite kind of celebration involves Mexican food and margaritas. (I guess that’s two more vices.)

What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing, and by whom?

W. Somerset Maugham said, “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” In all my discussions with other writers, I’ve been happy to learn there is definitely not just one correct way to write. Everyone does what works for them, and while I think few of us are ever completely satisfied with what we create, we learn and we keep going.

What do you do to get inside your character’s heads?

They live in my head, so I’m usually pretty clear on what’s going on with them. The trick is to get them to leave when the book is finished. So far, the best way I’ve found to do that is to start another book. (Kinda like that saying about getting over one woman by getting under a different one. Does anyone think that really works?)

Have you ever hated one of your characters?

Occasionally, I’ve gotten dinged in reviews for including some unlikable characters. Even though I write romance, it seems to me that a story can still be realistic. I know we all like to escape through reading, but sometimes I find excessive perfection a little boring. Those unlikable people do exist and many of us have had them in our lives at some point. I like it when they can be redeemed, but that isn’t always the case.

What books did you grow up reading?

My first memories are of the Wizard of Oz books – not just the one most people know from the movie, but several others, including The Emerald City of Oz and Jack Pumpkinhead of Oz. I also loved A Wrinkle in Time, so maybe it’s surprising that I don’t write fantasy or sci-fi. The Little Prince was probably my crossover between fantasy and romance.

Do you only read books in one genre or do you genre hop?

I genre hop some. I read a lot of romance, which is usually kinda sweet, like dessert. So when I want something a little meatier, I go for suspense or mystery, and sometime even apocalyptic or dystopian. I do occasionally read sci-fi when I get a recommendation for a good plot and strong characters.

Meet Jaycie Morrison

I’m a former public school teacher and native Dallasite turned Colorado mountain woman author. I’m very grateful for the wonderful life I’m living – for friends, for my second career, for the beauty I’m around every day, and for the love in my life. My heart breaks for the suffering in our world, but I try to do my bit in my little corner and anywhere else I can. I’m probably like many others for whom books were the saving grace of adolescence, and reading and writing sapphic literature has been one of the best things about adulthood.

Visit Jaycie’s Website

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