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Endurance and Authenticity – Jessica McCann Interview

 

From the first moments I became acquainted with historical fiction author Jessica McCann, I have been impressed with her incredible authenticity. She is a true voice in a world where people throw around gratitude and compliments so liberally that they tend to lose their value. I admire her as a woman of integrity and a consummate professional, but read her fiction and you’ll understand why I’m honored to post this interview. You will be transformed in your thinking. She raises your expectations of yourself and of others. And somehow, just when you should be most disappointed in humanity, you will find instead, that you feel hopeful.

All Different Kinds of Free, released in April 2011 by Bell Bridge Books, was inspired by a true story. It is about Margaret Morgan, who was kidnapped in 1837, along with her free children, and sold into slavery. Although she fought hard to regain her freedom, Margaret endured tremendous loss and hardship. Her ordeal led to one of the most important yet least-known Supreme Court cases of the era, Prigg v. Pennsylvania.

Text books will have you believe the story of Prigg v. Pennsylvania is important because it ended in controversy and fanned the early embers of the Civil War. This book will have you believe the story is important because it began with Margaret.

All Different Kinds of Free won the 2009 Freedom in Fiction Prize. As a novel-in-progress, the work also was a semi-finalist in the 2004 Dana Awards and the 2005 William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing competition.

Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us and for your beautiful work, Jessica. Welcome!

 

What is your favorite quality in a person? Integrity. My definition of that means striving to always do the right thing, not necessarily the easy thing.

 

 

What is your least? Self-pity. I have very little patience for someone who wallows in their misfortune. Time is much better spent being grateful for the good in life, because there is always good to be found, no matter how bad things get. When I slip and start feeling sorry for myself, I remind myself there is always someone out there suffering more than me.

 

 

As a child, did you dream of becoming a writer? I didn’t dream of it, necessarily. I just always was a writer, really without even knowing it. I was the kid whose heart raced with delight when the teacher would announce a research report or essay homework, while my classmates moaned and broke out in a collective cold sweat. Now we’re all grown up, and I do freelance writing for all the people who still moan and agonize over writing projects!

 

 

Who/what influenced you to pursue your dreams? Without a doubt, my husband has been the biggest influence on my success as a writer. We’ve been together for my entire adult life, and in all that time he’s been my biggest fan, my loudest cheerleader. He puts up with me blurting outcome predictions of our favorite TV shows, and he listens to my musings about people and motives when we watch the nightly news. His patent response is often, “You should be writing this stuff down!” Thanks to his encouragement, I am!

 

 

What is your greatest love? My family and all that encompasses — hosting family gatherings, going on camping trips, driving the kids to the mall, walking the dogs, sitting together on the couch watching TV, knowing we’re there for each other through thick and thin.

 

 

What is your greatest fear? That the people I love and admire and appreciate might not know it. About five years ago, we had a tragedy in our community, in which a man we knew through our children’s school murdered his young sons and took his own life. To this day, I can’t reconcile how the man I knew could have committed such a horrible act. Did he know how much I valued his friendship, how much I admired him? We can’t always prevent terrible things like this from happening in the world. But can reach out to those around us, every day, and let them know how important they are and how thankful we are to have them in our lives.

 

What is your favorite place? As a child, it was the Phoenix Zoo. I spent many, many hours there, walking the trails, observing the animals, connecting with something “wild” even though I lived in the city. That helped foster my love of nature and wildlife. As an adult, whenever I feel the need to connect with something bigger than myself, when I need inspiration, I still gravitate to the outdoors.

 

 

If you could give a bit of sage advice to novice writers, what would it be? Write for yourself first. If you don’t love what you’re doing and what you’re creating, no one else will either. Write for your reader next. If your writing is something you want to share with others, then you must read it through their eyes and have the fortitude to revise and rewrite when necessary.

September 13, 2011 - 6:57 pm

Kimberly Brock - Ah, that’s so great to hear, Jolina! Jessica is a joy and I’m really lucky to have had the honor of sharing her with you guys!

September 12, 2011 - 5:30 pm

Jolina Petersheim - Thank you for sharing this, Kim. Jessica is such a genuine person who inspires all of us to follow in her footsteps. I feel like I know her even though it is only through this madly spinning social media world.

August 19, 2011 - 3:45 pm

Kimberly Brock - I think we might need to make this party Official. 🙂

August 19, 2011 - 3:45 pm

Kimberly Brock - Thanks, Hope! You’re always full of good things to say and nobody makes it easier to say good things than Jessica!

August 19, 2011 - 3:44 pm

Kimberly Brock - How wonderful to have you stop by and enjoy Jessica’s interview! I know it’s special for you and I’m delighted to say she’s easily becoming one of my favorite authors – and people!

August 19, 2011 - 3:43 pm

Kimberly Brock - Oh, Julia! You’re in for such an experience with this novel. So glad you have it on your list!

August 19, 2011 - 3:42 pm

Kimberly Brock - Glad you enjoyed the interview, Robb and hope you’ll pick up Jessica’s wonderful novel.

August 19, 2011 - 3:41 pm

Kimberly Brock - Thanks for the kind words, Melissa! Jessica’s a class act and her fiction really moved me. I’m proud to get the word out on this lovely author!

August 19, 2011 - 3:13 pm

Jessica McCann (@JMcCannWriter) - Hi Hope! Thanks for the kind words. As for those poolside drinks… just say the word. The water is fine and the freezer is full of ice. Party at my place, girls. 🙂

August 19, 2011 - 3:12 am

C. Hope Clark - Kimberly,
Delightful interview. Jessica is a good person, and I’m honored to be her acquaintance and fellow Bell Bridge Book author (along with you). She is solid and sincere, and I see her enjoying life and this roller coaster writing business because she has her head on straight. Oh, and she owes me drinks by a pool one day – whenever I can get to Arizona.

Hope Clark
http://www.fundsforwriters.com

August 18, 2011 - 8:10 pm

Jessica McCann (@JMcCannWriter) - Thanks, Mom! Your comments got me all misty-eyed. *sniffle* Thanks for stopping and bragging on me. Love you!

August 18, 2011 - 8:08 pm

Jessica McCann (@JMcCannWriter) - Thanks, Julia. You’re too kind. So glad you enjoyed the interview, and I hope you enjoy my book. Do let me know what you think of it. I’ve read your blog and would value your opinion as a writer.

August 18, 2011 - 8:06 pm

Jessica McCann (@JMcCannWriter) - Thanks for stopping by to read and comment, Robb. It means a lot to me!

August 18, 2011 - 8:05 pm

Jessica McCann (@JMcCannWriter) - Thanks for your amazing comments, Melissa. I feel the same way about you (great colleague and friend, and helluva novelist!) and can’t wait for the day when your novel hits the shelves!

August 18, 2011 - 6:04 pm

Mary Ann Nissen - Thanks for the great interview, my pride continues to grow as I read Jessica’s views on her life and writing. 🙂

August 18, 2011 - 5:30 pm

Mary Ann Nissen - Thank you Kimberly for the great interview with Jessica, as I read the many interviews, my pride in the kind of person she is, just grows & grows. 🙂

August 18, 2011 - 3:13 pm

Julia Munroe Martin - What a beautiful interview! And I love these two things most: that your favorite quality is integrity — the quality I most tried to embue and most admire in my children; and that your greatest love is your family — I so agree. I have had this book on my must-read list and I really must read it. Thanks for a lovely interview!

August 18, 2011 - 3:00 pm

Robb Grindstaff Writer-Editor - Excellent interview, and congrats on the release of your book.

August 18, 2011 - 2:57 pm

Melissa Crytzer Fry - Agree, Kimberly. Jessica is a true gem among writers (also the inspiration for me starting my freelance business back in 2001). She is, without a doubt, the most selfless person I’ve met, willing to share without thought. Not only is she a great colleague and friend, but she’s one helluva novelist. Her book is nothing short of fabulous and was my first foray into reading historical fiction. She just may have me hooked!

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