Meet Jacqueline Druga, author of THE FLU, DUST and dozens of other novels. Her published works include genres of all types, but favors post-apocalypse and apocalypse writing. Currently she is in production of her third full-length feature film in which she has written and is producing.
In THE FLU, a mutated version of the Spanish Flu returns, culling humanity. The small town of Lodi, which resists the plague, shines as a sanctuary, and is subsequently tested in the aftermath.
Craig: What have you contributed to the genre? What’s your best known work? Tell us about it.
Jackie: At this time, I have over a dozen PA novels for sale on Amazon, several are zombie and zombie like novels. Surprising me, THE FLU and DUST are my best known novels. THE FLU is about a pandemic that brings the world to extinction. DUST deals with nuclear war, however both are character driven dramas and rely little on action.
Craig: What type of storytelling in the genre do you consider your niche?
Jackie: When I write in the genre, I tend to stay emotional and realistic with my characters. Character driven with just the right about of humor. I think, family relationships are my niche within my storytelling. I also think I was given the gift to make people cry.
Craig: As writer, do you prefer fast or slow zombies, and living or undead? Building on these basic themes, what do you consider to be your own trademark or unique innovation as an author?
Jackie: Without a doubt fast-moving Zombies because they are so damned scary. I My most unique (and favorite) contribution to the genre would be my DNA mutated, run 55 mph, cannibalistic, killer babies.
Craig: What makes zombies so interesting to write about?
Jackie: I think Zombies are pretty cool to write about because they are factual based (Haiti) and because they are not proven to be real, we can take liberties and who can tell us what is right or wrong.
Craig: Which writers do you particularly admire, and what did each teach you about the craft or profession of writing?
Jackie: MY favorite and most influential writer is Pat Frank.
Craig: The author of ALAS, BABYLON …
Jackie: Although he doesn’t write zombie fiction, he is a huge, or was a huge, post-apocalyptic writer. I learned characterization from him and that it’s okay to be obsessed with the world’s end. Also, interesting, he died on my birthday.
Craig: What’s the last book in the genre that you particularly enjoyed?
Jackie: I enjoy THE WALKING DEAD graphic novels, tremendously.
Craig: What’s your favorite zombie movie?
Jackie: My favorite zombie movie without a doubt is DAWN OF THE DEAD, remake. Just watching the first ten minutes sets the feel. I love it. Scares me. Although SHAWN OF THE DEAD is a close second.
Craig: Which of the following appeals to you most about the genre—zombies, survival horror, apocalypse—and why?
Jackie: Within the confines of why I read a zombie story, it has to be survival. I love reading what people do under extreme circumstances.
Craig: Which is your favorite type of story—apocalyptic (we’re seeing the collapse), or post-apocalyptic (the collapse has already happened)—and why?
Jackie: I would have to say a combination of both. I don’t feel you really get the full feel of a character unless you see who they were before and after the apocalypse. They will go through major changes and I like reading that. I like seeing the world end, and I like reading a post apocalypse novel, but I have to have an explanation of what and why.
Craig: What is your approach to writing? How do you complete a novel?
Jackie: When I tackle a novel, most of the time, I know what I want to write. I see it as a movie in my head and I write from start to finish. I never write out of sequence. It has to be well researched and written with passion. Before I even start novel, a song has already influenced me. Music plays a huge role and I have one or two songs I play continuously while writing. It drives everyone nuts. Including my neighbors. I have penned over 100 novels and completed them all. I have about a dozen I never finished. If I lose interest or lose passion, I stop. I almost always know how the book will end and so I use that as my goal to get to that final scene. Usually I write the last 8 – 10k words of a book in one sitting because it has been brewing in my head for a month.
Craig: What is the best review you ever received on Amazon, and why did you like it?
Jackie: My best review on Amazon was from a man who said he couldn’t stop thinking about my characters even when he wasn’t reading. And he cried. To me, that let me know I did my job as a writer. I created such a realistic world that the reader looked at my characters as real.
Craig: Without naming names or quoting, what is the worst review you ever received on Amazon, and if you could respond to it, what would you say?
Jackie: My worst review called me a sorry excuse for a writer and I should take pride in my work. Also, insinuating I was a hack. I didn’t respond, but if I could, I would love to have this person come into my writing room, see my rejection bin with 1000+ rejections , look at how hard I have tried and how much I work, and without saying a word, allow then to realize how much their words really do impact and hurt. But then again, it’s people like that who make me work harder.
Craig: What are the key elements to a great story, and how do you approach them?
Jackie: To me, what makes a great story is strong believable characters. And to do that, the characters must become real to me was a writer, if I can’t see them, hear them in my head, know what they’re thinking, what they would eat, see their expression, then how can I expect my readers to see them as real.
Craig: What makes a great character?
Jackie: I craft my characters and spend a great deal of time on them. While I am writing, to hear me talk about them, you would think I was speaking of family. They are real to me, I make them real to me and I believe that’s how I make them real for my readers.
Craig: What are you working on? What can we expect next from you?
Jackie: I just completed, AFTER THE RAPTURE, which is in rewrites and is a PA zombie-ish novel and ZOMBIE BATTLE 3: INVASION. I am currently writing, THE TRAIN, a war novel. And next, briefly I am taking a break from death, destruction and the walking dead and going into my next niche genre, comedy. I’m doing an Elvis Impersonator book. I know, different.
Craig: Thanks for joining us, Jackie!