Jacky Dahlhaus is an Aussie girl who was brought up in Holland. She is a bit of a gypsy having moved house 13 times. Unlucky for some, but not for Jacky! She lives in Scotland where she and her husband are currently renovating an historic property and breathing new life into the building. She started writing in 2015 and enjoys entertaining people through her books. She has also embarked on a film producing career where she writes, produces and directs some of the short stories that she has written.
Q: Do you have a day job? How many hours do you aim to write per day or per week. Are you writing continuously or take a break between novels, I guess Part 3 is in the pipeline?
A: Nope, I don’t have a day job. I am a lady of leisure. I do take breaks between writing my books as we are also renovating our 1896’s Old Schoolhouse, all by ourselves. As my bedroom is finished I will allow myself to start writing part 3 of the trilogy!
Q: What first attracted you to write Vampire novels? Are there other genre’s you like to write in eg. Romance or even Non-Fiction or do you feel your calling is horror?
A: I started writing the Succedaneum books after a dream I had. I do love a good vampire movie; Buffy, Underworld, Slade, etc., but will settle for any good action sci-fi or fantasy too. Can’t wait for Warcraft to come out in the cinema. I am not so much a fan of horror as I think there is too much suffering and fear in the world already. I like my books to be an escape from reality, with a good ending.
Q: Do you keep track of things like word count or page count per writing session for goal setting? What do you feel helps you to achieve your goals?
A: I don’t keep track of what I write per day and I don’t have any goal setting. I go with the flow; sometimes I do nothing but write during a day and then there are days when I don’t write a single word. Weekends are the worst as I have to be sociable with my family, although they are very tolerant if I’m ‘in the mood.’
Q: How do you deal with writer’s block, or the inner critic that many writers experience during the dark times?
A: When I get stuck I do the 50/50, phone a friend or ask the audience thing. When I had to find an escape route from a military compound I gave myself the option of a glider or a helicopter. I asked my family, but they didn’t have a clue either. So I finally got the courage to phone a flight centre and they gave me the answers I needed. I don’t get real writer’s block, not yet. I still have so many ideas in my head.
Q: Have you any experience in Traditional Publishing as well as Self Publishing? What would you say creates the biggest workload on you time or the biggest headaches, after your manuscript is written?
A: I haven’t been lucky to find a publisher so have been an indie publisher so far. I have written to only four publishers, of whom two have replied, albeit negatively. So I think I have a better chance doing it myself instead of trying to find a publisher who doesn’t really do much more than I can do myself. But I would swap as soon as somebody offers me a good contract! My biggest headache is trying to re-invent the wheel, to find out what the best strategy is. And advertising relentlessly (which I don’t). I’m not a person to thump my chest and am not a very persuasive person. If I ask somebody if they want something and they say ‘no’ that’s it for me, discussion over. I find it emotionally exhausting to keep putting myself in the spotlight. I don’t mind chatting, but that is something completely different.
Q: Thinking of things like cover designs, pricing strategies, release / re-relaunch dates, how would you advise new authors to tackle these?
A: New authors should contact OSFARG! Get busy preparing your book’s release before actually putting it out there. I didn’t and it doesn’t work. Only with a lot of help can you make a difference. Get it right the first time! Saves a lot of headaches… And get Photoshop, it’s fun and amazing what you can do with it.
Q: Have you used a Launch Team or Street Team for you book publications? Do you see value in them?
A: Like I said, I just threw my book on Amazon and… nothing happened. Only now do I realise the importance of a launch team behind you. This is something that may be somewhat of a hurdle when you’re a writer, as it’s often a bit of a lonely existence, but you need it.
Q: What are your feelings about Free Book promotions, essentially giving your work away for free as part of a Marketing Strategy?
A: I don’t mind giving the first book away for free for certain short periods, but only to get more people interested in buying my second book. As I put a lot of effort, time and money into my writing I find it annoying that this has to be the way, but what can you do? There is so much choice out there, you have to do something to get read. I don’t expect to get rich from my writing and I am lucky enough not to need an income, but I would at least like to get my money back so I’m not a burden on my family.
Q: Do you have any thoughts on the current criticism of Amazon listed Best Seller status and their lack of transparency of how eBooks are ranked.
A: I recently got very annoyed with the fact that when you search on ‘highest star rating’ books you have to compete with a myriad of books that have only one five-star review. I think Amazon should compensate for the amount of ratings too. Obviously books that have forty-five five-star ratings are a lot better than those with only one (not that I have forty-five ratings).
Q: What is the best piece of advice that you have been given regarding your writing career, or what one piece of advice would you give to someone starting out on their writing path?
A: The best piece of advice I received was ‘write it down!’ What I would advise to others is two-fold; 1) ‘get an editor/proofreader,’ as nothing is as annoying for a reader as stumbling over grammatical mistakes and typos, and 2) get a launch team!