We offer our first and exclusive Q&A Interview with Jaya Avendel, a writer whose literary works have been featured on our Spillwords pages as well as being Author of the Month of July 2021.
What does it mean to be selected as Author of The Month?
To be nominated Author of The Month fills me with the knowledge that people love to read the stories I write and the experiences I share. Words are nothing without people to read them and I love knowing that my words are now starting not only to open conversation between me and readers but also between the readers themselves. To be nominated Author of the Month is an honor and a privilege that I am proud to have earned. I may not write for recognition, but I cherish it all the same!
How have your friends and/or family influenced your writing?
My family has always been incredibly supportive of my writing! Their encouragement is one of the reasons I still write so passionately today. My mother used to read my earlier novels out loud to my siblings, despite my lack of paragraphs and general use of punctuation. My father continues to share his original ideas with me too and, while not every idea finds a home, he challenges me to go beyond just being creative and start getting crazy.
Most of the friends I have made online are writers themselves and their diverse styles, voices, and stories continuously inspire and influence me to write beyond one thing and open myself to the possibilities that everything I encounter is a story waiting to be told.
What inspires you to write?
I love being inspired by a story, painting, book, or experience. Usually, it is just the feeling of the moment and any random images or memories that immediately came to my mind that make it into my writing, but I also love making a small object or tiny life slice into a poem. Sometimes, out of a whole story or picture, only one word or small detail stands out and becomes the focus of my writing.
I am also inspired by a challenge, so I love creative writing prompts and photo challenges. Nothing quite gets my pen scrawling like needing to go beyond the accepted and ordinary in a picture or phrase to what no one else has written before.
What was your writing catalyst?
I have been writing since I was nine years old. Currently I am facing the interesting problem of running out of space for the notebooks and pretty journals I use to keep ten years’ worth of my diaries and creative writing.
I started with Tolkien fan fiction but have written dozens of fantasy novels. In my early teens I ambitiously queried them; now I am wise enough to know the books need work before they stand a chance on their own spines.
In 2017 I began to share my Tolkien fan fiction and chapters from a series of fantasy novels I still feel strongly about online. I began to feel the pressure of writing for my readers instead of for myself. People told me I must put my readers first; I must write what they want to read. This did not agree with me. I write first for myself and, in doing so, attract the people who need to read what I write, not what I am writing for them.
In staying true to my vision of my stories and the way I write, I started to see I stood apart from the thousands of other writers populating the writing sites I was using. Realizing that I can write well in writing something different while staying true to myself is my writing catalyst.
Tell us a little bit about your writing process?
I am a handwriting kind of gal with a preference for blue or black pens. You might think I have beautiful script, but my lettering is quite plain and legible. I usually always keep a notebook on hand as inspiration has a habit of striking me whilst I am simply living. When I write to submit to literary magazines, I keep a list of what each journal is looking for and try to keep the themes foremost in my mind so my thoughts can start to formulate around each idea. Once the first handwritten draft is down for each poem, I edit it and expand upon the poem as I transcribe it into type. Once I am happy with each line, I send the poems off to try their fate. Sometimes they come back to me, sometimes they find a home, but ultimately, I put my best into each piece and that is what matters to me.
What would you say is most fulfilling about writing?
I cannot keep words inside me long, so I use writing as a place to release thought and emotion. While this is often in the form of a short story or poem, I also love using my diary as a place to jot down impressions and daily life happenings. Writing fulfills me because it allows me one more way to be myself.
Does the addition of imagery help to tell your story?
Yes! I do not take my own photos, but I love using the beautiful and clear images I find online to enhance the story my writing is trying to tell. One of my favorite ways to use images are to contradict the viewpoint, perspective, or message behind my poems with an image that does not, at first glance, seem to relate to the poem. This gives the reader a chance to pause and think about the writing instead of seeing only one layer of it. I also use imagery to provide a feeling of beauty and relatability throughout my writing.
What is your favorite reading genre?
I love historical and literary fiction. If the two genres manage to merge into themselves with a spicy dash of quaint murder mystery, I am beyond happy! That said, Agatha Christie’s eloquent and lyrical murder mysteries are my comfort reads for writer’s block times. Her books also help provide insight into human nature, which I often bring to my writing.
What human being has inspired you the most?
A writer by the name of R.A Salvatore. I do not know him, but I know his writing. Six years ago (and often to this day) the way his eighty plus books go in circles with the same characters literally drove me crazy. I wanted to see some growth; I wanted to see some character development and story individuality instead of the same plot being rewritten repeatedly with a new title.
I finally wrote him a letter, to which he had the good grace to respond. R.A Salvatore still writes the same way he does today as he did when he started writing in 1988, but out of my rejection of his stagnant writing grew the crazy, passionate need to write my own stories alive with growth and distinctiveness.
What message would you have for the Spillwords Press community that voted for you?
I cannot thank you enough for voting for me! Knowing that you enjoy my writing and find something to take away from every poem and story moves me beyond words.
What would you like your legacy as a writer to be?
I would like my legacy as a writer to be a reminder that no one and nothing can stop you from doing what you love. While how you express what you love changes, it remains true to an essence of bravery, honesty, open-mindedness, and individuality.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I will end this interview by saying that I hope it will teach you as much about me as I have learned about myself whilst writing this with my forever motto: may the words flow!
Jaya Avendel is a writer living in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, where she dips her pen into the inkwell of fantasy and prose, dabbling with the stories in the forest around her. She writes at Nin Chronicles.