By Sean Tuohy
Nuclear war, biological war, disasters.
If you're going to keep yourself up at night reading topics like those, why not let best-selling author Jacqueline Druga guide your way through these deadly tales?
Druga is the author of the Beginnings Series—which has swelled to 26 books and counting—and routinely plunges her characters into the apocalypse.
Druga was nice enough to swing by Writer's Bone's end of the world bunker to chat about her writing.
Sean Tuohy: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Jacqueline Druga: I went through different stages of writing. I started writing short stories and poems when I was about 10 years old. Then, when I hit my teen years, I started writing novels.
My first one was an alien invasion novel, then I moved on to mystery romance. I have a bin with 18 manuscripts from my teen years. But…being a serious writer, that drive didn’t hit me until I was 30 and I just didn’t stop.
ST: Who were some of your early writing influences ?
But the biggest influence in my life was Charlton Heston. I loved him. He made me want to create heroes.
ST: You write in many different genres but mostly within the post-apocalypse genres. What draws you to these stories?
JD: I have been obsessed with the topic since I was a kid. Nuclear war, biological war, disasters. Some say it was my mother. Prior to my birth she was so afraid the world was going to end, that the doctor told her to get pregnant before she had a breakdown. She did. That baby was me. Her fear went away and it became my obsession. Sort of a maternal-fetal apocalypse transfusion.
ST: Your Beginnings Series is made up of more than 20 books. Do you plan on continuing the series?
JD: Actually 26, with an additional three sidebar books. And eventually it will end, but not in the next 10 books. I love the series. Live and breathe it. The characters in that series are as real to me as my family.
ST: Your novels are filled with wonderful and realistic characters. Are they based on real people?
JD: Some of them are. In my novel, Dust, every single person on her list is someone I know and I based my knowledge and friendship with these people to determine how they would end up in the apocalypse. Joe, the leader of Beginnings is based on my father. Actually, I wrote Silent Victor to create a character reflective and as a tribute to my dad. A way to keep my father alive in a way. In my mind, he’d never be gone as long as someone reads and loved Joe.
ST: What is your writing process like?
JD: It starts with an idea that doesn’t grow until I find the right song. Music is a major influence on my writing. I listen to the same song over and over. Usually I have only two to three songs per book.
The Sleeper Series theme song is Fuel’s "Falls on Me." I believe I listened to it 347 times during Sleepers 4.
But once I find the right song, the book takes off. I think, outline, then write the first chapter and every night before I close down, I outline the next day’s work. I write every day, midnight to 6 a.m.
ST: What advice would you give to up-and-coming writers?
JD: After the initial stock advice all established authors give—which is read—I’d say...write. You want to be a writer you have to write. Every day, no matter what, no excuses. Don’t act the part…work to be the part.
ST: Can you tell us one random fact about yourself?
JD: I barely sleep and, aside from tons of Starbucks, I eat pickled green tomatoes for an extra boost of energy.