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  • Writer's pictureJ.G. MacLeod

Mystery, Romance, & Historical Fiction. Author Extraordinaire: J.C. Paulson.

You may wonder how a Canadian, living a quiet existence on the Prairies, could write haunting tales of crime and intrigue. With a background in journalism, Paulson is no stranger to the gritty reality hidden in the most unusual settings. Sit back, relax, and get ready to enter the creative mind of this talented author.

Meet J.C. Paulson:

Author of the popular Adam & Grace Mysteries, as well as Blood & Dust, a Western set in an expanding Canada of the late 1880s, Paulson reveals the humanity that clings to even the darkest moments of our lives. Check out these titles and more on Amazon.

When I asked Paulson why she decide to venture into the world of authorship, she quipped,

Fame! Fortune! Glory!
Ha. Although wouldn’t all of that be lovely?

immediately sharing her witty personality with us. Paulson explains her decision further, and it is the kind of stuff legends are made of:

It really was the strangest thing. I had been a journalist for many years, making my living as a writer and editor . . . and suddenly the newspaper world shifted on its axis. I won’t get into details, but devastated, I was. I spent months under the bed, weeping.
One dark night I awakened with a plot in my head — the usual 3 a.m. thing one hears about.
But this was, for me, bizarre. I’d been moping for so long, and suddenly . . . inspiration.
My subconscious catapulted me kicking and screaming into a new diversion, featuring a handsome police sergeant, a passionate reporter, some messed-up villains, and a continuing desire to change the world with my pen.
I found a new way to use my voice. While I love writing mystery, romance, crime and all of that, hopefully in a fast-paced and entertaining way, I am fundamentally an author because I want to expose and explore the issues — usually human rights sorts of things — plaguing society.

This stroke of lightning, the birth of Adam and Grace, feels magical. But this magic comes from inside Paulson. Not only would these characters entertain readers, but the author could use the stories to communicate deeper truths about our world.

Learning about this inspirational foray into the world of fiction led me to ask if Paulson has a favourite character. This is never an easy question for authors to answer, since our characters often take a special place in our hearts and minds. But Paulson eventually answered,

I suppose I particularly love Detective Sergeant Adam Davis, for being gorgeous and broken and ethical and passionate. And reporter Grace Rampling, for having the same reportage ethics as I, as well as also being gorgeous and passionate.
Oh, and for her ridiculous sense of humour.

Hmmm, sounds familiar...For the longest time, I was certain that the author was actually the cover model on her Adam's Witness paperback! But I digress!

I think many authors love their first work most of all, largely because it was the first, and so Adam’s Witness is if not my favourite the closest to my heart. It saved my sanity.
That being said, I am very much in love with James Sinclair, the main character in my latest book, Blood and Dust. This is a historical fiction/western standalone, and James is powerfully, if not entirely, based on my beautiful, wonderful husband. So yes, I rather adore him.

And so do we! I have read this fabulous work of historical fiction and have linked my review below. Don't forget to leave Paulson a review when you finish your own copy. Reviews are golden to authors!

The lives of Adam and Grace, and James Sinclair, are intriguing, so I asked Paulson to tell us about the most unusual thing that happened to one of her characters:

Spoiler alert. Adam finds himself at a paintball arena while solving the weird and convoluted crime in Fire Lake. Adam has PTSD and the event brings on a severe flashback. Is he being pelted with multi-coloured little canisters of paint? Or are those real bullets flying at him? Is he bleeding blue and green . . . or red?

Despite how traumatizing that event was for Adam, the integration of realistic, mental health concerns is a phenomenal way to break the stigma so readers feel less alone.

Paulson seems to always have a project or a plan up her sleeve, so I asked what she was currently working on.

I am working on the sixth book, a novel, in the Adam and Grace mystery (laced with love) series. (The fifth, Two Hundred Bones, is a novella.) It’s entitled The Maddox Verdict and an incredibly difficult write.
Virgil Maddox, a friend of Adam’s, is a male Black teacher, based loosely on two real male Black teachers — one a friend, one a client of my father’s (he was a lawyer). I can’t help but worry about voice appropriation; I am hardly male, Black, or a teacher. But I think it’s an important story and I’m determined to do it. And do it right. It may take forever.

I love the veracity with which Paulson describes these potential challenges. Thankfully, sensitivity readers are an integral part of the publishing world, allowing authors to push the boundaries of their creativity and explore diverse issues in a way that honours the lived experiences of our global community.

This leads into potential misconceptions not just about our characters' lives, but the world of writing, too.

I’m not sure . . . but I don’t think anyone is under the illusion that writing (books) as a career is going to make you rich, apart from that perhaps one per cent. Another small group will make a living at it.
Those of us with our brains mainly situated in reality don’t write for that reason. I would certainly advise anyone who thinks he or she will be the next Nora Roberts or Stephen King to carefully guard their expectations and pocketbooks.

Paulson identifies the obstacles, such as finances, that can make it an uphill pursuit. That being said, Paulson does not dissuade people from embarking on their journey in this profession, but suggests we come to it with a dream AND boundaries so we don't get burned by the experience.

What else should someone know before beginning this venture?

Writing is bloody hard work, and marketing is even harder. This is not about flinging some words on a page and boom attracting readers. It *ALMOST* never happens.
If I could advise a new writer, I would say find and pay the best editor(s) you can afford; ditto for book covers, unless you are a genius graphic designer (and even then); and read everything you can about marketing before making a plan that WILL NOT BREAK THE BANK.
You can do this. But we (well, 99 per cent of us) need all the help and support we can get.

Many of these aspects of the publishing world are unknown to new writers, so thank you for educating us on the many considerations that contribute to success.

Who inspires J.C. Paulson?

War correspondents. Volodomyr Zelenskyy. Women (particularly) who survive abuse and go on to create great things or lead people. Writers who will not give up.

This has been one, deep interview! Before we say goodbye, Paulson has a final piece of inspiration to offer us:

I started writing fiction relatively late in life. I mention this because I think most of us have sparks of creativity within us — writing, painting, photography, sculpting, playing or composing music, something. It’s never too late to find it, use it, even make it sing; but it would be a tragedy to go through life without discovering and exploring it.

Amazing advice!

Please follow J.C. online at the links below:

It's time to wrap up this installment of Artists Helping Artists. I hope you enjoyed meeting my special guest, J.C. Paulson. Don't forget to follow and leave a review.

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