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Advice from IR Approved Author Tim W. Jackson: “Apply butt to chair and keep writing.”

The Secret of Rosalita Flats received a 4+ star review, making it an IndieReader Approved title.

Following find an interview with author Tim W. Jackson.

What is the name of the book and when was it published?

The Secret of Rosalita Flats was published September 18, 2020

What’s the book’s first line?

“The house was named Batten’s Down, and Cal Batten had no idea what to do with the damn thing.”

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”.

Most people dream of being stranded on a tropical island, but down-on-his-luck Cal Batten just wants to sell his dad’s ramshackle, football-shaped house, fly home and pay off his creditors. Unfortunately for him, nothing on Blacktip Island goes smoothly. Or quickly.

His dad’s will is nowhere to be found. What passes for an attorney has a taste for rum and is working his own agenda. The locals reckon there’s treasure stashed in the house and are ready to tear the place apart to get at it. And his childhood former-best friend, now a beautiful scuba instructor, might just drown him out of spite. There’s also the matter of sharks showing up every time he gets in the water. If Cal can’t figure out what his old man was mixed up in, fast, he may end up stuck on the crazy backwater island, broke and homeless.

The Secret of Rosalita Flats is a smart, funny tropical misadventure for anyone who’s ever dreamed of chucking it all and running off to the Caribbean.

What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event?

I’ve lived and worked on a small Caribbean island for nearly 20 years. The Secret of Rosalita Flats is the follow up to Blacktip Island. Both comic novels feature settings, situations and characters based—loosely—on some of the quirky things that happen on small islands everywhere. Before moving to the Caribbean, I was a journalist, then went back to school for a master’s degree in English, thus qualifying myself to be a bartender, a waiter or a PhD student. Instead, I chose Secret Option D: run off to the Cayman Islands to work as a scuba instructor and boat captain by day and write fiction at night. Two decades later, I still wish that was half as interesting as it sounds. Or even a quarter . . .

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book? 

It’s a mystery that will have readers laughing all the way through. It also gives tropical-minded readers a taste of what it’s like to live on an island where “tropics” doesn’t always mean “paradise,” and “normal” is a state of mind. And with vacation travel so restricted these days, the book offers a quick getaway to the Caribbean.

What’s the most distinctive thing about the main character?  Who-real or fictional-would you say the character reminds you of?

The main character is a buttoned-down guy stuck on a backwater island where nothing is neat or tidy or organized. Think Joel Fleischman in Northern Exposure struggling to cope with small-town Alaska.

If they made your book into a movie, who would you like to see play the main character(s)?

Jesse Eisenberg, America Ferrera and Zoe Saldana.

When did you first decide to become an author?

I’ve been writing, in one form or another since grade school. I have a bachelor’s degree in journalism, worked at newspapers for a decade, but wanted to see if I could make a go of it as a fiction author, so I went back to school to get an M.A. in English with a focus on fiction writing.

Is this the first book you’ve written?

The Secret of Rosalita Flats is my third full-length novel. My previous novel, Blacktip Island, is also a comical misadventure set on the same quirky tropical island, with many of the same characters. My first novel, Mangrove Underground, is the literary novel I was trained to write and supposed to write. I discovered comic novels were much more fun to write, and a lot more people enjoy reading them.

What do you do for work when you’re not writing?

I’m a scuba instructor and charter boat captain in the Cayman Islands—I do physical, outdoorsy work in the day, then write in the evenings.

How much time do you generally spend on your writing?

Several hours a day.

What’s the best and the hardest part of being an indie?  

The best part of being an independent author is having complete control over the final product. The scariest part of being an independent author is having complete control over the final product.

What’s a great piece of advice that you can share with fellow indie authors?

Apply butt to chair and keep writing.

Would you go traditional if a publisher came calling?  If so, why?

Maybe. It would depend on the offer. I’m doing fine now—and making a profit—as an indie, so agents and traditional publishers aren’t really on my radar.

Is there something in particular that motivates you (fame? fortune?)

I hope everyone who reads my books thinks, “Wow, this is really good writing.” (And I’m rolling my eyes at ‘fame’ and ‘fortune.’)

Which writer, living or dead, do you most admire?

That would be a long list. If I have to pull one name out of my hat, I’d say Ursula K. LeGuin. Decades ago she began preaching—and proving—genre fiction could be more than just pulp filler relegated to the literary ghetto, that Philip K. Dick should be shelved next to Charles Dickens in a section labelled, simply, “Literature.”

Which book do you wish you could have written?

American Gods.