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A Center Stage Moment: Jaci Wheeler

Wheeler spotlight

Mason Cooley said, “Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.”

A Center Stage Moment shines a spotlight on writers who give us great places to visit with the characters we love and want to call friends.

Today, I have the pleasure of introducing to you Jaci Wheeler!

author pic Jaci Wheeler lives in the Central Valley of California with her husband and two precious kids.

Her love of literature began in junior high when she was introduced to Lowis Lowry’s books. Since then she has had a passion for writing Young Adult books, and creating strong female leads. When she’s not writing she is advocating for Autism Awareness and involved in the deaf community.

Her favorite things to do are play with her children, craft with her friends, sleep while her husband watches movies and indulge in her favorite addictions: Coffee, candy and shoes.
I love reading author bios. Many of them did not start out as writers. Sometimes people stumble upon the craft. Did you always want to be a writer? It was always my dream to write but I never thought I’d actually be [a writer].
Why did you choose to write your genre? I used to hate reading as a kid, until I picked up the Giver in the 8th grade and it opened up a whole new world and love for reading. That age is such a turning point in people’s lives so why not write something that might inspire them to have a love for reading? I also used to teach Junior high and High school so that age will always be special for me.
What is the strangest story you’ve ever written? I don’t think it’s strange but having a character who is on the Autism Spectrum and writing from their point of view was for sure the most challenging thing I’ve ever written. But for people who don’t know anything about autism I can see how they might perceive that as strange. [Not strange at all. It’s all part of bringing diverse characters to fiction.]
What are you currently working on? I’m currently working on a YA crossover trilogy about children soldiers, a spinoff of my trilogy, and a suspense thriller. (I have ADD. Can you tell?) [Nope. I like working on more than one project, too.]
What motivated the plot of your latest book? I swear I’m not a political person, but my writing always tends to lean that direction. The United trilogy was inspired by a conversation with my husband about the election, and if I could change the process for picking a president what I would do. My current WIP came from something I read about how more countries are now starting to train women and children to become soldiers and something just clicked. Before I knew it I have a whole trilogy mapped out in my brain. [Pretty cool!]
United Trilogy Pic
What was the hardest story for you to write? The hardest story for me to write was one that still isn’t finished. Something happened to me as a child, and I wanted to write a story to reflect what I went through but I write fiction. I create new worlds and rules and writing something so personal and close to home is painful. It brings back too many haunting memories yet there can be so much beauty and release in pain that I’m going to force myself to finish.
What process do you use to plan your novels? I can’t outline. Or should I say, I do outline and then never follow them. So I have journals for each book and I plan characters first. Then I research topics for my book and write that in the notebooks. Then I just sit down and write it all out of me. Once it’s written sometimes I go back through and rewrite it. I always write the end of a book first, and that ending will sometimes change two or three times but starting with the end helps so I don’t get blocked or stuck. [I never thought of writing the end first.]
Who has been your favorite character to write and why? Wes from United hands down is my favorite character. Partly because he reminds me of my son and a few other children I’ve been blessed to experience, but the other part is because he took so much out of me to write from his voice in the last book. It put me in someone else’s shoes that I’d never normally be in. I love a good challenge and that was my greatest so far.
Do any of your characters reflect facets of your personality? Not all but I think many of my characters have part of me. Some I give the best of me and some I give the worst. I take a trait that I might have and then let my imagination take over but it’s easier to write what you know.
Have you ever experienced writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it? I almost don’t even want to answer this because I’m afraid it might jinx me…but no I haven’t. I always write more than one story at a time. If I start to feel I’m not giving my current story the best or that I’m just bored with it or whatever the reason I go to one of my other stories and then I’ll switch back once I start feeling the same on that story or get inspired for another. At the moment I’m working on two trilogies and a standalone…all in different Genres and it’s really helped to keep me from getting blocked.
If you were to choose another genre to write in, what would it be? Why? I’ve been flirting with the idea of writing suspense. Even though I’m an adult I love YA, I always have and always will but besides YA, suspense and thrillers are my favorite books to read. My child soldier book has some suspense and thriller aspects in it but it’s still age appropriate. I’d love to be able to sit down and write a gritty adult thriller. I’m just not sure I can.
Which authors inspire you? So many amazing Authors have shaped me. Lois Lowry for sure. William Faulkner, Edgar Allan Poe, Jane Austen, and my mentor in writing J.L. Drake.
What novel would you read multiple times? The Giver hands down. Also Pride & Prejudice has almost made it to The Giver status.
If you could meet anyone in the world, alive or deceased, who would it be and why? (Person could be a fictional character) Helen Keller. It amazes me how much she accomplished with so much stacked against her. I love to surround myself with people who have beat the odds and prove that there’s nothing that can’t be accomplished. There’s so much I want to ask her and yet I think I’d be perfectly fine just sitting in silence and taking her in. (Sounds kinda creepy stalker like I know.)
What is your favorite quote? If you know me (or read my books) You’ll know I’m a huge quote person, I love quotes and give myself a new quote a week. The quote that has resonated with me the most lately is from Albert Einstein.
The world is a dangerous place to live- not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.”
What is your favorite animal, real or imaginary? If we are going to be honest it’s a Unicorn. (Yes, I think they are real.)
What is your favorite color? Hot pink and or anything sparkly.
What do you do when you’re not writing? I’m going to say it’s part-time because being a mom is always going to be my full time job. I have two special needs kiddos at home and my first job is to be mom/teacher/therapist to them. Writing is my night time job when everyone is asleep and it’s my way to destress and check out from my life for a little bit.
Catch up with Jaci online at:  
Website:http://jaciwheeler.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jaciwheeler1/?fref=ts
Twitter:https://twitter.com/JaciWheeler
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jaciwheeler1/

It was such a pleasure to get to know you, Jaci!

Next week’s featured author will be Case Maynard.

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