Jo Sparkes - Suspense that Never Slows
From television shows to football articles, Jo Sparkes can't put the pen down. She's interviewed Emmit Smith and Anquan Boldin (as Arizona Cardinals), taught screenwriting at the Film School at SCC, and went on camera to make "Stepping Above Criticism". An award-winning writer, she lives happily in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and their dog, Oscar. As our Author of the Day, Sparkes tells us all about her book, Wake of the Sadico.
Please give us a short introduction to what Wake of the Sadico is about.
It’s about diving in Caribbean seas. Treasure hunting on a sunken wreck. Reincarnation and tortured souls.
It’s about the choices we make, and how those choices affect us – and others. It’s a story about redemption.
Why did you pick a Caribbean dive vacation as the backdrop for your story?
I love the Caribbean. Warm water diving and sailing and the forced closeness of a sailboat. And the challenges that arise from that closeness.
What, would you say, is so fascinating about a centuries-old shipwreck?
I think treasure hunting appeals on a gut-level – the notion of finding a fortune, instant wealth. Add in the adventure of exploring, discovering all its secrets, and a little fear and greed. You have a delicious cocktail.
Tell us more about Wall Eddington. What makes him so special?
He endures. He tries, fails, and soldiers on. When he succeeds, he conquers all.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
Believe it or not, I used to teach Chinese Kenpo Karate. But that was years ago.
Which of your characters was the most challenging to create?
Melanie. Like all of us, she had choices to make. She simply chose poorly. I’m sympathetic to that.
Do any of your characters ever take off on their own tangent, refusing to do what you had planned for them?
All the time! It used to drive me crazy – wanting two people to end up in each other’s arms, only to have them fight like cats and dogs. Now I just let it happen, and record what they do. It’s much more interesting and unpredictable.
How did you manage to describe the dives so vividly? Do you dive yourself?
I did dive, though my level was about Melanie’s. I wanted to record my experience – not what is typically written.
Why paranormal suspense? What drew you to the genre?
It’s the story that drives me – and this one has haunted me for a long time. Honestly, I’m still not sure what its genre truly is.
Is there an underlying message you wish to relay about basic human nature through your characters?
No. I have a story in my head and do my best to tell it. I know what it means to me – but others will have their own thoughts – some that never occurred to me.
One of my editors told me it was a great love story. When I disagreed, she said, “Jo! They’re soulmates!”
I have to admit she has a point.
When working on a new book, what is the first thing you do?
I tend to switch between character descriptions and story outline, until I have enough of a handle to begin the tale. And then it develops a life of its own. Cool events are necessary – but there’s no story for me until I see the people involved and what it does to them.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
I write best early in the morning – sometimes 4am. At some point before lunch I usually switch over to editing what I wrote. The afternoon becomes a great time for research and further development of the outline/character descriptions. The book never sticks to plan because the characters take off unexpectedly.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on a new fantasy – this one not so YA as my last. It’s early days yet, but I’m very excited about it!