The Long and the Short of It is very pleased to welcome Pauline Baird Jones, whose latest book The Key was an Independent Publisher Book Awards Bronze Medal Winner for 2008. She actually got the idea for it watching Stargate Atlantis. She told me she never intended it to be a story. She also never intended to write science fiction. She told me, “My science teacher in high school would be appalled and surprised, most likely horrified. I got this idea for a character and story and to get it out of my head, just typed it down. I liked the character so much, I started to wonder if I could find a world I could write about. I tried about five different approaches until I hit on the one that finally became The Key. Sara was so fun to write. She surprised me over and over again while writing this book. And don't get me started on Fynn. Sigh.”
Pauline has always been, as she says, “a passionate, avid, addicted reader” and the only time she got in trouble in school was for reading novels behind her textbooks. Once she read all the books in her library, she needed more, so she started creating her own books. “I started with crappy ‘fan fiction’,” she told me, “but really didn’t kick it up until my husband encouraged me to write to sell.” She grinned and added, “He didn’t know much about the business and thought he could become a ‘kept’ man. Instead he’s had to be a ‘patron of the arts’.”
She started out writing stage plays and even had one produced by a university theater group. “It was a comedy about a woman whose family doesn’t appreciate her and she fades into invisibility. When I realized I’d have to write plays for the ‘glory,’ I decided to try my hand at writing for children (by then I had a couple) and made my first two money sales writing for children.” Undeterred by the pitiful return, she eventually moved into short fiction for women and then long fiction. “I submitted a story to Playgirl Magazine once because I was curious what their rejection letter looked like,” she said. “Sadly, it was nothing special, which seemed wrong for some reason.”
Pauline told me she’s been writing to publish since the last century (around 1992 or thereabouts), but added, “I’ve been dabbling in it since the early 8o’s. Of course, if you want to get really technical, I wrote for my high school paper...on stone tablets, according to my kids.”
She’s not what you might call a traditional plotter. In fact, she confessed, “I’m an ‘into the mist’ write ‘by the seat of my pants’ plotter, so I basically commit random acts of writing. Sometimes a story starts with the mayhem, sometimes with the character. My ideas start kind of niggling and small and scared and I have to ignore them and pretend I don't care until the ideas get annoyed enough to come out and demand my attention. Then I, well, to paraphrase from my daughter, Elizabeth, I pull it out of tush. And yes, it can be painful.”
Finding it difficult to pick just one favorite author, Pauline gave me several. “I love Mary Stewart because she got me interested in romantic suspense. I love Elizabeth Cadell because she taught me books could be funny and I love Georgette Heyer because she taught me about writing great characters. And I can't leave out Alastair Maclean who taught me about kick butt suspense.”
On a personal note, I asked Pauline if she hated how she looks in pictures. She answered with an emphatic, “YES! I hate how I sound on recordings, too. I have an image of how I look and sound and I hate having that messed with. PLUS, the camera adds five pounds. Everyone knows that. So that's not really how I look, right?”
When Pauline goes home to visit, she and her dad go riding on one of his three horses, weather permitting. “My dad knows the mountains around Lovell like the back of his hand,” she said, “and it is an amazing experience to get right away from civilization and just be alone in a beautiful place.”
And, finally, Pauline told me she is very much a night person. “My spirit doesn’t enter my body until well after ten in the morning,” she told me.
We are so glad that Pauline came through Hurricane Ike unscathed and was able to be with us.
You can keep up with Pauline on her blog, http://paulinebjones.livejournal.com