…This is completely impractical, but we should all switch countries for a year. Mix everyone up and plop them down where they least expect it. Take over the job of someone else in some other town. Eat their food (or lack of) and live their life. Imagine what we’d learn, what we’d see. It would change perspectives, fuel imagination, and maybe even make the world a better place.
As a part of my interview series with popular culture stars, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jackie Bateman. Jackie is a British author and screenwriter living in beautiful Vancouver. Her dark trilogy of award-winning psychological thrillers are being developed into a limited television series called Thirst. Her first screenplay Salome Magic was an official selection at Vancouver International Women in Film and a finalist at The Writers Lab NYC.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I started out working in advertising, but had a deep love for reading and writing fiction from a very young age. Over the years the fiction world gradually took over until I finished my first novel. Now I’ve delved into screenwriting, the visual thinking has helped my prose immensely. Ultimately, all writing strives to be compelling and there are commonalities between all forms.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
When my second novel came out, I was asked to be part of an author talk at the Whistler Writers Festival. My series plunges the reader into the mind of a serial killer, who closely observes his future victim, picking out details such as what ear-rings she’s wearing, whether her shoes are clean or dirty. After the talk, a woman came up to me and asked where I’d got the idea about the ear-rings from. She worked in criminal defense and had experienced a real-life serial killer who would quite delicately remove and keep the ear-rings from the victims he’d just bludgeoned to death. It was a creepy (and oddly satisfying) moment to know that what I’d written was so real.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
In the final throws of the proofing process, my editor said, ‘Fruit of the Loom. Is that really an ice-cream flavour?’ We realized that the protagonist’s grandma was eating an ice-cream flavour that was in fact a leisurewear brand. What I’d meant to write was ‘Fruits of the Forest’ and it nearly didn’t get spotted. Shudder. I suppose what I learned was that it’s impossible to proof-read your own work, that editors and as many proof-readers as possible are vital.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I’m working on a new feature screenplay set on a 1960s British Columbia artists commune. I’ve just finished a new novel about a young woman in prison for murdering her boyfriend (I’ve always wanted to write something set in a prison). I’m polishing an adaptation for screen of my own manuscript that was shortlisted for the International Yeovil Literary Prize. It’s about a boy with a rare genetic disorder. Also a digital series called 3-Line Stories. I have a lot of ideas. All of them dark.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
I like interacting with, being with, and talking to, other writers. If an author I like is reading in Vancouver, I try and see them. Ian Rankin was entertaining. Afterwards I got my book signed, and he was complaining (in a light hearted way) that whoever had gone to buy him a pint of beer hadn’t come back. I wish I’d gone and bought him another one. It was the least I could do, really. Next time I’ll be more on-the-ball with my author beer buying.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Writers tend to be an obsessive lot, and there’s no telling them to take a break from writing. I would say that reading is a welcome break, that it makes you feel like you’re kind-of writing because you’re learning something from whatever it is. A novel, a script, a poem, a short story. In these fast paced times, it’s easy to forget to sit and read quietly. Even if it’s just half an hour, it makes such a difference to mental state, peacefulness, and energy. Ahh.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
This is completely impractical, but we should all switch countries for a year. Mix everyone up and plop them down where they least expect it. Take over the job of someone else in some other town. Eat their food (or lack of) and live their life. Imagine what we’d learn, what we’d see. It would change perspectives, fuel imagination, and maybe even make the world a better place.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Everything will take about ten times longer than you anticipated. Do not become a writer if you think things will move quickly, if you are impatient, or if you would like to get rich quick. It ain’t going to happen. Write because you love writing, and only then will it shine. No one cares about your story idea. There are millions of those in the world. What you can do is work and work and improve your craft and write that story idea until it’s a beautiful piece of art. Then people might care about it. Writers are never truly happy, so don’t worry if you are always a little bit miserable. It only means that you are, at heart, a true writer. Acknowledge this and run with it into that black cloud. Take the utmost care over your ending, as if you are writing your own life. Write the ending of your story five times, then five times more, until that ending makes you shiver and possibly even cry. And finally, grow a thick skin, preferably around the thickness of an elephant’s hide. Wallow in the misery of rejection, which is as much a part of the writer’s life as drinking diet coke and eating badly.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
C S Lewis: “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”
I like this. What’s gone on before you can’t do anything about. Start now. However, this doesn’t apply to writing because we CAN go back and change the beginning. Hooray!
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
I wouldn’t mind having a spot of lunch with Ava DuVernay, thank you very much.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I have a Facebook author page https://www.facebook.com/jackiebatemanwriter/
and can be found spouting off on Twitter https://twitter.com/JacBateman
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!