On being a Method Author

I am what they call a Method Author (or did I just make that term up? If so, I am a genius!) It’s similar to that of a method actor, when they immerse themselves in extreme surroundings or situations in order to prepare for a role. I love learning what actors go through to make characters more believable. One of the most famous examples, for “The Last of the Mohicans” Daniel Day Lewis spent six months in the wild teaching himself to build a canoe and  hunt animals.

In the past, I’ve sat in child birthing classes to understand what pregnant women go through. I’ve taken trips to locations just to smell the air and describe the scenery. But for ALLEGEDLY, it was a bit tricky. I’ve mentioned on my blog how I had to do some heavy research to make the story believable and today I want to talk about interviewee Num 3.

Backstory: I wanted to get firsthand knowledge of life inside a juvenile detention center, but there was NO way one was going to allow me to spend the night at their facility. Understandably. Even after I did my research, through books, films, and phone interviews with experts, my friend Raquel found the story a tad bit unbelievable. It was missing SOMETHING. I realized that all my interviews gave vague third person perspectives. I needed the real deal.

I posted on a few boards and found five women to interview about their experiences as teens. Interviewee Num 3 I met in person at a McDonald’s in Atlantic Terminal, downtown Brooklyn. I was adamant about being gentle, for both our sakes, afraid of any triggering effects my questions could have. She seemed indifferent and almost insulted by my beating around the bush and started filling in the blanks with graphic details of being sexually assaulted in her cell. Afterwards, I went home and tried to process her lack of emotions, her lack of tears, the strength she portrayed. Numbness, is the only word I could use to describe it. So I dug deep, put myself in her shoes and left my emotions at the front door as I finished revising. It made a world of difference and gave my main character Mary her defining voice.

 

 

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Tiffany D. Jackson is a TV professional by day, novelist by night, awkward black girl 24/7. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Film from Howard University and her Master of Arts in Media Studies from The New School University. A Brooklyn native, she is a lover of naps, cookie dough, and beaches, currently residing in the borough she loves with her adorable chihuahua Oscar, most likely multitasking. Her debut novel, ALLEGEDLY is due January 24th, 2017 through Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of Harper Collins.

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