LitPick interviews the author of Haw, a Novel by Sean Jackson, for Six Minutes with an Author! While Haw is Sean’s debut novel, he has published numerous short stories in literary journals. He was an award-winning North Carolina Press Association journalist for Cox Newspapers in North Carolina for 12 years. Sean was also a 2011 Million Writers Award Nominee for his short story, ‘Not Even Jail’.
How did you get started writing?
I wrote a long story when I was twelve that was about sports and growing up. It was terrible, but when I got into high school I began writing poetry, which I continued into college. After college I picked up writing short fiction again, then spent twelve years writing news stories for newspapers. I didn’t write fiction when I was a journalist. There just wasn’t time. But it all goes back to that summer when I was twelve, when my parents bought a typewriter and I needed something to do.
Who influenced you?
Early influences were the typical H.G. Wells and Jules Verne. More recently I have been influenced by Raymond Carver and Annie Proulx. I wrote Haw while thinking about George Orwell and Albert Camus.
Do you have a favorite book/subject/character/setting?
My favorite book is William Faulkner’s Light in August, which also includes the closest thing to what I would consider my favorite character, Joe Christmas. I’m intrigued by the idea that he may be both the book’s villain and its protagonist.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an author?
Of course have an outline before you begin, but also edit as you go along. Continuously question what you’re putting into that first draft. And don’t be afraid to take chances that you think may make a reader uncomfortable. Your job is to surprise the reader, in addition to entertaining. So be bold.
Where is your favorite place to write?
Don’t tell my boss, but I love to write at work. The distractions are minimal and for whatever reason my mind is able to sharpen its focus onto what I’m typing. It’s hard to explain. I know William T. Vollmann has said he used to write at work when he was just starting out. Maybe it has to do with the boredom of working a desk job, but for me it just works.
What else would you like to tell us?
When I read Orwell and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, I didn’t realize just how deeply their messages, their warnings about how society should heed its limits and responsibilities, had tunneled into me. But when I wrote Haw, it all came back to me. While I don’t think my book is rightly compared to their works, I really appreciate that I had the opportunity to read them and other conscientious writers when I was younger.
Sean’s social media links:
Harvard Square Editions’ Haw page: http://harvardsquareeditions.org/portfolio-items/haw/
Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdLJhnEp80Q