An Interview with Jamie Pacton, “The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly”

“The Life and Medieval Times of Kit Sweetly sits on a table, set to an iced matcha green tea latte, a cake pop, and a book sleeve. Soleil de Zwart

Summary:

Jamie Pacton is the author of The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly, coming out May 5, 2020. The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly is about Kit Sweetly, who works as a “wench” or waitress at a medieval themed restaurant. It’s Kit’s dream to become a knight, just like her brother, but the corporate managers don’t think anyone but a man should be a knight. One night Kit has to take her brother’s place and reveals herself to be a knight during the tournament, and soon after she goes viral as “the girl knight.” Kit decides to bring her friends on her own quest for gender equality and ensure everyone, no matter gender, can become a knight. Non-binary and trans characters are included!

I loved the representation that Jamie Pacton brought to the page, it felt so real and natural. I am also lucky enough to be on her street team for the book. When I reached out for an interview, Jamie Pacton was quick to respond and answer my questions!

You can order The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly by Jamie Pacton any place books are sold.

Interview:

1. Who or what are some of your literary influences? What writers (or other humans) do you look up to?

I studied English literature in college and grad school, so I think I’m always drawing heavily from that background, even if not on a conscious level. So, on some level, the poems of Eliot, Yeats, Keats, and many others echo in my head, while I’m also always thinking about things like some of the first female novelists writing in English. In terms of literary influences specific to the YA I write (both fantasy and contemporary), I love Naomi Novak’s fantasy; Jasper Fforde’s humor; Lizzy Mason’s heart-felt, gritty YA, and MK England’s voice-driven YA SFF. 

In terms of other writers I look up to: I’m in awe of how VE Schwab manages so many projects; I would love to produce books with as deep of world building as SA Chakraborty’s CITY OF BRASS trilogy; and, of course, I’m a huge fan of Rick Riorden’s many, many books for kids. 

2. Where do you draw your inspiration from? Do you draw inspiration from any artforms or the world around you?

Inspiration is waiting all over the world I think, and when I’m not working on a specific project, I often move through my days with the mindset that I’m looking for a story. And, most of the time I find one. 🙂 

3. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve been writing stories since I was a kid— back then it was usually in the form of plays that I made my siblings perform. But, I’ve known since college I wanted to be a writer. I just didn’t really know how to do it back then since the internet wasn’t the easy access to publishing pro’s that it is now. What I would’ve given for pitch contests and twitter contents back in 2002. 

4. What first sparked the idea for The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly?

I wrote a whole twitter thread on this question here: https://twitter.com/JamiePacton/status/1187538755843956736

5. Are any experiences in The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly inspired by your own life or experiences?

Absolutely. Although I’ve never worked at a medieval themed restaurant, I waited tables for a long, long time during college and beyond. One of those jobs was at a 50’s-themed restaurant where we danced on tables, were rude to guests, and had to be funny as part of the job. So, you’ll see lots of those experiences in KIT. I also wrote a lot of my own memories of growing up on the edge of economic security— I’m the oldest of ten kids and my dad lost his job when I was a teenager— so I remember things like stockpiles of food with questionable expiration dates and trips to food pantries. 

6. What keeps you motivated when writing? Have you experienced writers block?

Before I had book deals and deadlines, I was motivated by both the desire to achieve this dream (I’m nothing if not stubborn) and by the next story I wanted to tell. I don’t usually get writer’s block because I have a backlog of stories to tell, but I do sometimes have fallow periods where I’m not writing every day. Sometimes this is due to busy-ness in life, bouts of depression, uncertainty about where the story is going, etc. When this happens, I try to just refill my well by reading lots, going to museums, and/or working on a different project. 

7. What’s your favorite writing snack and/or beverage?

Coffee. Always and forever. And I never eat while writing. Before I had kids, I used to smoke a lot while writing, but that’s a thing of the past. 

8. Could you speak on your editing process? What was your process going from first draft to the stage you’re in now?

It’s been very different to work with an editor on KIT than with the 9 other books I wrote before this one sold. For KIT, we did a round of developmental edits, then some more revisions, then it went to a copy editor, and then we’ve had a bit more back-and-forth as questions have come up. 

With my other books, I tend to fast-draft, then spend a few months revising and cleaning up, then I send to a few trusted CPs, and then I’ll send it to my agent, who will read and determine if we’re ready to take it out on submission. 

9. Is there a TV show, book, or movie that you turn to when you need a pick-me-up?

I love funny shows, so I’ll watch things like Parks and Recreation (which I’ve seen all the seasons of at least 7 times), Rick and Morty, or movies like Bridget Jones’ Diary. I also love to read adult rom-coms when I need a pick-me-up, and some of my favorite this last year have been RED, WHITE, AND ROYAL BLUE, WELL-MET, THE KISS QUOTIENT, and THE HATING GAME. 

10. What are the final steps in the last months before the book’s publication?

I’m still figuring this out myself, but the book is done and right we’re figuring out fun stuff like promo, travel, launch, and things like that. I’ll get author copies in April and probably be in the middle of book 2 edits at that point. 

11. Are there other stories or short works you wrote before The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly? Is there anything in the works right now?

I wrote so many books before KIT! Some of those will never see the light of day, but I learned a lot from them. Others I’m still hopeful will get sold. Currently, I have a YA fantasy a MG historical adventure-fantasy still on submission. I’ll turn in a draft of my second YA contemporary to my Page Street editor later this month, and then I’ll get to work on the option book for them. That’s all I can talk about at this point, but I will say that I have a lot of BIG plans for 2020’s writing. 🙂 

 12. If you could give one piece of advice to a younger unpublished version of yourself, what would you say?

Know this will be a long process, but keep going. Keep writing. Keep dreaming stories. Also, be careful who you sign with (I had a terrible first agent experience), and remember that you’re in this for the long haul career, not the huge splashy deal. 

13. Do you have any advice for writers looking to get their novel published? Any tips on networking in the publishing world?

There are now so many amazing resources online, like Twitter pitch contests (which helped me get my second agent), Pitch Wars, and hashtags like #WritingCommunity. It’s easier than ever to access agents, publishers, and other writers, and that’s a lovely thing. So, I’d advise writers to network in those ways as they can. 

Definitely as a writer hoping to be published be sure to follow all agency submission guidelines, don’t bug agents too much (or do things like DM them on Twitter), and generally be as uplifting and encouraging to other writers as possible. Remember that someone else’s success doesn’t diminish yours, and the best look you can have is to be genuinely supportive and excited for others. 

14. What has been your favorite part of the publishing process?

Without a doubt the friends I’ve made through writing conferences, Pitch Wars, and other avenues. I have a solid community of amazing folks to share ups and downs with, and I’ve made lifelong friendships. 

Also, getting that “you’ve-got-a-deal” email is an amazing feeling!

15. How did you go about finding an agent? What was that process like?

I’m going to refer you to the FAQs on my website about this one: https://www.jamiepacton.com/extras/faq

Bonus! (if you’re familiar with Harry Potter): 

HA! If I’m familiar with HP! LOL!

In what Hogwarts houses would you sort the main characters of The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly?

Kit is 100% a Gryffindor. 

Jett is a Hufflepuff. 

Chris is also a Gryffindor. 

Layla is a Ravenclaw. 

Reflection:

I decided to reach out to Jamie Pacton because I’m a member of her street team for her debut young adult novel The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly. I very much admire her story and her book so I thought this was a wonderful opportunity to get more information about all of it. She was very lovely in her responses and sent me her answers promptly. 

I loved her genuine answers and how funny she was (even over email)! I’m really glad I made the leap and decided to ask an author who I admire and love the work of. And she was honest, especially about writing 9 previous books and them all being rejected. And how looking back on it she sees the value of that experience. Overall, I look forward to reaching out to more authors for similar interviews. 

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

★★★★★

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid is an interview-based story focusing on the reclusive Hollywood icon Evelyn Hugo. When Monique Grant, a relatively unknown magazine reporter, is requested to author the “tell all” exclusive on the life of Hollywood’s icon, no one is more shocked than Monique. Monique and Evelyn meet at Evelyn’s illustrious mansion and begin to unravel the many years of shocking tales and the scandalous seven marriages. The narrative slips into the past, in the point of view of Evelyn, growing up in a low-income house with an abusive father and how she escaped, made her way to Hollywood, and became a sensation.

Taylor Jenkins Reid discusses love and loss, weaving in stories of hard-won ambition and surprising friendships. As the narrative continues, the reader and Monique begin to understand why Evelyn chose Monique for her biography.

Reid’s plot allows the reader to slip seamlessly into Evelyn’s past, then come back to the present, learning simultaneously about Monique and Evelyn’s lives. Within the text, Reid is able to craft complex characters, convincing you that this faux-biography is about a real Hollywood sensation, and you just never knew about her. Reid’s characters are complicated and filled with life, her protagonists are built with morally-grey hearts, questionable motives, but their depth make them more human than most fictional constructions. Reid explains this herself within the voice of Evelyn Hugo, “It’s always been fascinating to me how things can be simultaneously true and false, how people can be good and bad all in one, how someone can love you in a way that is beautifully selfless while serving themselves ruthlessly.” While Evelyn says this of others, it can also be seen as her speaking of herself, her drive and motivations to get to where she wants to go. 

As the story unfolds, the formatting of the book gives light to news and magazine excerpts within the biography of Evelyn Hugo that rests inside The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, these contain headlines and dates of publication, with scandalous tidbits imagined by gossip columns or celebrity magazines. Many of these titles also contain information between sections of the text, how a situation was perceived by the other world versus how Evelyn Hugo tells her tale, or heartbreaking news you hadn’t expected before turning the page. Another interesting observation is looking at the evolution of magazines and news corporations covering Evelyn Hugo as her story unfolds, they begin with small town newspapers and evolve into the worldwide trending Now This.

The interview-style format of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo lends itself well to its audiobook format, with three voice actors working in tandem to bring the voices of Evelyn, Monique, and the other characters to life. 

Evelyn Hugo is a powerful woman, who knew what she wanted and went out and got it. Her story tells us that fame, money, and success won’t bring you everything you desire, Evelyn’s successes and failures bring with them their own unique struggles. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo may sound like it’s about the rich and famous, complaining about their lives and in pursuit of more accolades, but in reality, it’s the story of a girl from Hell’s Kitchen, New York who did everything she could to escape her life and get what she wanted, while dealing with the harsh realities of stardom and the people it brings into your life. 

I give The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, five stars. 

Reid’s most recent novel, Daisy Jones & The Six, came out in 2019 and is currently being adapted into a web-based miniseries, produced by Reese Witherspoon. Sam Claflin has recently been announced to play the main male-lead Billy Dunne. 

August Wrapup

The Merciful Crow ★★★

The Tea Dragon Society ★★★★

Fence Vol. 1 ★★★★

The Avant-Guards Vol. 1 ★★★★★

Fence Vol. 2 ★★★★★

The Unexpected Everything ★★★★★

Heartstopper Vol. 1 ★★★★★

Lumberjanes Vol. 1 ★★★

The Umbrella Academy Vol. 1 ★★★

Fence Vol. 3 ★★★★★

A Lesson in Thorns ★★★★

Shortest Way Home ★★★★

Well Met ★★★★★

Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto

★★★★★

I was so honored to be placed on the street team for this book and the following books (TWO MORE BOOKS, BECAUSE ITS A TRILOGY NOW). 

I sped through this book, the world building is so in-depth, you can feel your surroundings and know the history of it. The world building isn’t cataloged and explained through it, but is woven throughout the story, with little excerpts of history books, explanations by characters, and dialogue.

I feel for these characters and am so glad that Nicki Pau Preto is taking her time with the story development and with character arcs. These characters have a journey to go on and it’s not rushed.

I can’t wait to see what happens in the following books and to be on this journey!

Here is an excerpt of the sequel Heart of Flames!

Street Teams!

This year I have had the absolute honor of being a part of three street teams! I never expected to be chosen for the teams, I just signed up and gave it my all and got in!

If you don’t know what a street team is: Street teams are marketing campaigns between authors and their avid readers. There’s usually a group page where the author can share exclusive content with the readers in preparation for their upcoming release. The participants can receive points for sharing information on social media pages in time for marketing campaigns and can be rewarded with ARCs (advanced reader copies), bookmarks, art prints, etc relating to the book, by the author.

Street teams that I’m in: I’m currently in three active street teams!

First Riders

The First Riders Street Team is for both Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto and for her upcoming sequel Heart of Flames. Crown of Feathers is about two sisters who are trying to hatch a pheonix egg to become pheonix riders.

Sandhya’s Sweethearts

The Sandhya’s Sweethearts Street Team is for all current books by Sandhya Menon: When Dimple Met Rishi, From Twinkle with Love, and There’s Something About Sweetie. It is also for her upcoming release Of Curses and Kisses, which is a beauty and the beast retelling in a contemporary setting.

Keel Haul’s Sea Crew

Keel Haul’s Sea Crew is for the debut release All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace. All the Stars and Teeth is about Amora, a princess training to be the master of souls, the most dangerous form of magic. When Amora’s training goes awry, she flees with a mysterious pirate.

How do you get on a street team? More and more authors are starting street teams, to join you usually just need to fill out a survey, describing yourself and your platform. Make sure to follow all your favorite authors and publishing companies on their social media platforms and be on the lookout for when they post about an upcoming street team. It never hurts to apply and to give it a shot. I’ve been extremely lucky to be chosen for these amazing street teams, and I definitely recommend you try one out!