How do you rise after you fall? That is the question that Vita must answer in S.N. Jones’s historical fantasy novel, Exordium, the first book in the Tempus series. As Vita is thrust into a new position of power, she must face a growing threat of revenge, family tragedy, and her own demons to try and save the peace she and her kingdom once knew.
S.N. Jones grew up in Northern Kentucky and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relation and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Language Studies from Western Kentucky University. She currently works and lives in St. Louis, where she continues to write. She, and her book Exordium, were awarded the 2018 National Civic Expression Award from the Scholastic Art and Writing Competition, funded by the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers.
Jones talked about her writing and the inspirations behind the work she does.
Why did you start writing?
I started writing because talking out loud and acting out the scenes in my head were so temporary. They’d slip away after I was done. But then, I learned to write those ideas down and work on them until they were more than just wisps of memories that would float away. That’s why I started writing. But I continued because it became a lifeline. It became a way to cope with the things going on around me and in my own mind.
Have you had any special training or college experience for writing?
I have not had special training for creative writing, but I have for professional and marketing writing. I have a degree in public relations that helped with that.
What do you love about writing?
I love that it is a way to take everything I am feeling and make it something beautiful. It has the capacity to be a conduit. In the past, it has taken my worst memories and feelings and helped me to not only grapple with them, but understand them. Writing is the one thing that I could do forever or talk about forever. It lights a fire in me that I don’t get to light much anymore.
What inspires you?
People inspire me. Many of the characters in my books are based on real people, mostly those I know personally. Once you realize everyone is living their own story as their own protagonist, it becomes almost natural to extrapolate what goes on in their minds and what their story would be like in a different place and time. Music also inspires me. It’s like certain notes or melodies match a wavelength in my mind and I see a situation or scene play out.
Where did you get your character inspiration from?
Mostly real life. Especially for Vita, it was a way of coping with what was going on in my life. To that extent, Vita and I share a lot of traits and experiences.
What are your favorite authors or series?
The easy answer is anything Tolkien. It’s easy to look back at the work he did in fantasy and gloss over how much of the groundwork he laid for this genre. Another of my favorite authors is Edgar Allen Poe. The emotional strings he puppeteers are present in every story and poem I read of his. I also love Mary Shelley for her trailblazing and critique on man’s god complex.
What themes do you write about and why?
One of my favorite themes to write about is choosing your family. It’s near and dear to my heart because I have lived it. I have this deep belief that the people who choose to love you and whom you choose to love will have much greater of an impact on you than blood ties.
I also write a lot about mental illness and the symptoms that come with it. On the one hand, I love psychology and took several classes in college. On the other hand, mental illness is experienced by countless people. And the more we talk about it and represent those who live with it in literature without romanticizing it, the more people can feel like they aren’t alone. That is, at least, what I wanted when I read in middle school and high school.
What shaped you into the author you are today?
Disappointment. When you start off writing, everything is rosy and amazing. But then, when you finish your work, you realize that there are countless others out there who have done the same. Writing has disappointed me again and again. But I still go back to it because it’s what I know and what I love.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Sometimes what seems like the right time isn’t the right time. You can finish your project and send it off to be in someone else’s hands but there is no guarantee all of your dreams are going to come true in that moment. So you have to be prepared to put it on the shelf and wait for the right time.
What’s next for you? Do you have any new books in the works?
I have finished the two sequels to Exordium. Now I am just waiting for the right opportunity and reason to present them.