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Meet Jamaican Author J L Campbell with a Giveaway!

Today we have Jamaican Author J L Campbell with us. So over to her...

So I’m sitting on the beach under a palm tree, laptop on my knees, daiquiri close by, the wind in my hair…


Reality check time.

Exotic location or not, writing does not happen quite like that. I’m writing a lot less than I used to, but that’s okay for the time being. Over a five year period, I wrote nine novels, and have another half dozen with between three and six chapters completed.

When I’m in flow, I write before work, during lunch and way into the night. Editing of each chapter – yes, I’m one of those crazy writers who edits while writing – happens on the one hour journey to and from work. Every chapter has to be just so before I can move on to the next. Apart from the time I spend writing, I believe in reading. I’ve read hundreds of craft articles and then of course, there’s fiction.  I also get most of my reading done on the bus.

I’ll read anything that has an element of suspense, but I’m not mad about paranormal and sci-fi books. I also like a writer who can make me laugh. My writers of choice are Jeffery Archer, James Clavell, Patricia Cornwell, Gerald Durrell, Dick Francis and James Herriot and Eric van Lustbader.  As to writers from another time, I’ve read a fair amount of Charles Dickens, Mark Twain and P.G. Wodehouse. All of these authors have had some effect on the way I approach storytelling.

One of the simplest, and yet most important aspects of my writing is setting.  I live in Jamaica, which most people see as an exotic place. I take the island for granted, so I have to make a conscious effort to remember to insert something of the locale in each chapter – perhaps the flora, the food, the accent of the characters, the strange unique things we do as part of our culture.  I’ve also created a whole new island as a setting for several novels, starting with Contraband.

My critique partners have consistently asked to see Jamaica in everything that I write. As a result, having Jamaica inserted as a character brings a special something to my stories. Many of us don’t look at our surroundings as particularly inspiring, but you might be surprised that what you overlook, someone else might find interesting.  How much of your locale do you include in writing your stories?

J.L. Campbell is always on the lookout for story making material. When not engaged in planning the next writing adventure, she can be found lollygagging on her blog at  Campbell has won several awards in the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission’s Literary Arts Competition. Her website is at  Twitter handle is @JL_Campbell

Book Links

Contraband            Dissolution

And there's a copy of Contraband for one lucky commenter today!


  1. Hi Joy, Nas!

    Joy, isn't funny how we don't really see how interesting our locales are to other people? I would be completely floored by Jamaica, but I never really notice the absolute beauty of the mountains where I live. I try to insert some sort of interesting tidbit of setting in my works (especially the new WIP), but I mostly show the character of a place through people my main character interacts with.

    Best of luck to both of you!

  2. Hi Joy, Nas!
    Jamaica as a setting/character sounds divine! I live on the coast of Australia and, must say, I do take the gorgeous beaches and fab weather for granted sometimes. I haven't set a book in Queensland for yonks. Readers seem to identify more with Sydney icons or places in the States, but I really must work out a great premise that highlights the Sunshine Coast.
    Best of luck with your stories, JL!

  3. Nice to see you here Joy!
    I know what you mean about place being as important as characters - some times I find I've overloaded with description, trying to bring the 15th century Mediterranean world to life, and other times I find I've not described anything and left my characters in limbo!

  4. Joy, I'm so glad to know I'm not the only author who edits each chapter as she writes before being able to move on. I don't know if this is to my detriment or advantage, but as long as the end result rocks and I didn't go too crazy in the process, I'm cool going with this flow.

    What an excellent interview and a great way to learn about one of my favorite bloggers via one of my other faves!

  5. My hat's off to anyone who can write, even if it's just editing, on the bus. You must have great powers of concentration, Joy.

    I took a ride on a Bermudian bus today, and the way the driver whipped along those narrow roads ensured my eyes were fixed firmly to the front!

  6. Great interview! I also edit while writing (sometimes it can be a pain). J.L. is a wonderful person and I hope many people follow her blog after this because she provides some great insights into writing!

  7. Marlena,
    That’s so true. Until the people in my writing network started asking to see more of Jamaica, I was just writing without playing up the qualities/culture of the island. Cool idea to show the setting through the inhabitants.

    Nice to meet you. Australia is exotic to me. I have a writer buddy who lives there (Diana Hockley) and I’ve learnt so much about the flora and fauna through her writing. She writes about interesting stuff like sheep farming. Yes, I know I’m weird, but for me, it’s a lot more intriguing to see things that are not on the beaten track.

    Hey Deniz!
    Now that’s quite a challenge to hit the right balance – you don’t want to skim too much on one hand or bore the reader to tears, on the other. Much as I dislike getting started, editing one of those tasks that help us get things just right.

    We do have some stuff in common. Writers sometimes talk about rewriting mss from start to finish or discarding work and starting over. I’d be tearing my hair out. I think the way I avoid that is by getting each chapter as close to perfection as I can. I do know I have to edit, but it makes the job easier if I can get it done right out of the starting game. Contraband too way too much time to edit because I wrote it before I knew what I was doing. I definitely learned from that experience.

    You can get used to anything if you try it long enough. I just take the printed chapters with me and read/edit them. The most distraction comes from the radio being played too loudly.

    AA, thanks so much for your support. I may never meet even a fraction of my blogging buddies face-to-face, but rest assured I treasure the friendships I’ve made. Thanks for coming over and sharing your thoughts.

  8. Azarimba, I missed the second half of your comment and it had me in stitches. I try to stay away from what I call the 'mad-driving buses'. I take the ones run not by a cooperative, but by the government. I do some because I'm much more likely to get off the bus alive and with all my limbs intact.

  9. Hi to all my lovely friends!

    Welcome to my blog JL! I can see you're haing a blast chatting with allmy friends here! It's good to meet some mutual friends, isn't it?

  10. Fantastic post. It's funny how locale always makes its way into my novels. They're all set in places where I've lived.

  11. Yes, it is, Nas. I'm happy to be here. Thanks again for letting me have the run of the house.

    Talli, you're a smart writer. Armchair travellers love being able to jet away to somewhere else to follow other people's adventures.

  12. yay for JL! Isn't it funny how we take our own settings for granted?? I know I do here in Florida and Nas, if you take Fiji for granted I may have to cringe, lol... but I guess we just get comfy and life is life.
    I've always admired Jamaica from afar but never been. I'm sure the culture itself IS a character and one very interesting learning about!

  13. Wow that was a really interesting post. I like the whole putting in your locale into the book. When you can write effectively about your own surroundings, it helps to add that special something into the book.
    Yes living in Jamaica may sound exotic, but you have the ability to show the country that you know, and that parts of it are not like we read in the holiday brochure.

  14. I do get a real sense of Jamaica when I read! Awesome post, JL!

  15. Pk, we do take our surroundings for granted. Familiarity breeds contempt and all that. You should come to Jamaica if you're able. Of course, when you stay at a resort, you don't see all aspects of our culture, but what you do learn in a week's stay is more than enough to take home with you.

    Naina, you make an interesting point. I do try and show the other side of the country as well. It's a lot more interesting than what you see on the brochures and might I add, quite different.

    Thanks, Clarissa, I'm happy to know I'm doing something right. :)

  16. Hey Joy! It's great to see you over here, and to learn more about you :). I agree with your crit can bring a level of detail and realism to your Jamaican settings that most writers can't. That's a precious thing!

    Nas, thanks for having Joy here. She's such a great person and writer. Love her blog too!

  17. I think I lost my post, so second try (sorry if it doubles)...

    Joy, it's so great to see you over here and to learn more about you! I agree with your crit can bring a level of realism and detail to a Jamaican setting that most writer's can't. That's a precious thing!

    Nas, thanks for having Joy here! She's such a great person and writer.

  18. Rula,
    Nice to touch base with you too. I must check if you're back to blogging.

    I'm learning to stop taking the island for granted. What helps is the Friday feature I do with photos. Nowadays, I look twice and wonder, would non-Jamaicans be interested in that particular thing? Most of the time, I pass these things without a second glance. :)

  19. Hi Joy, great to see you here! :-)

  20. Hello Nas, thanks for having J.L. in today.

    Hi J.L. I'll never be as prolific as you, but I edit while I write too.

    Jamaica is exotic from an outsider's perspective, but it is so easy to take things for granted.

    "the strange (scratch that) unique things we do as part of our culture." (that made me laugh. I love other cultures, so I usually enjoy stories that are in new places for me.)

    I'm big on locale, so I tend to have quite a bit of it in my stories.

    lollygagging - I love that word!

    So I’m sitting on the beach under a palm tree, laptop on my knees, daiquiri close by, the wind in my hair… (Oh, don't I wish!)

  21. Doralynn,

    Thanks for coming over. I agree that it's easy to skip over things that other people would probably find interesting.

    I think a lot of the times writers of contemporary fiction and romance don't realize what an opportunity they have to showcase their corner of the world or whichever place the novel is set. I know I enjoy reading about places I may never get to visit.

    We should both probably pass on the palm tree as it's scorching right now. :)

  22. It's so true that we tend to accept our locality in the mundane. I can see mountains from every window but only notice them when they are covered with snow. Brrr and will be soon. :) I will be looking up your books, for sure.

  23. Thanks, Manzanita. Mountains with snow sound lovely right now. We are sweltering over here.

    Kelley, thanks for being such a good pal. :)

  24. You mention making people laugh. I think its important to incorporate humor into a book, no matter how dark or hard boiled it may be. I use smatterings of humor. It catches the reader off guard, which I think adds to the event.

  25. Stephen, yes, I also think laughter makes a story that much more interesting. After all, we read to get away from the reality that's around us. Good approach, I think.

  26. Hi Joy! Hi Nas! Slowing down huh Joy? You are one prolific writer! Why not sip a few daiquiris on the beach?


  27. 9 novels in 5 years? Wow! And Patricia Cornwell is one of my favorites, too.

  28. Susan,

    It was a good thing I was writing so much during that time. I haven't written anything new in ages.

  29. Nas, I wanted to thank you for having me!

  30. Hi to all my lovely friends,

    Thanks for coming along and chatting with Joy!

    And thank you Joy for being here! I apologise for missing as my net was down.

  31. No problem, Nas. We can't predict when technology will desert us. I enjoyed being over here.

  32. Congratulations go to Kelley, who won Contraband, compliments of Kelley, I shall be contacting you via email.

  33. Congratulations Kelley!

    And thanks to all my lovely friends who came out to meet and welcome Joy to my blog!

    Thank you, Joy, for being here with us this week!

    Please remember Authors Kate Walker and Christina Hollis's Blog Tour starts today with Giveaways on every blog stop. Comment and go in the grand draw at the end. Links are on my sidebars.