Local Writer L.J. Sellers Spotlights Eugene With Fictional Detective Series
EUGENE- Wade Jackson is a detective for the Eugene Police Department, Homicide Division, a good man who loves his family and his home town. He’s been through a divorce, a child in danger, and had to solve some of the worst crimes Eugene has ever seen… and he’s not even a real cop.
Local author L.J. Sellers made him up. “Jackson is a composite of the first two detectives I interviewed [when researching the novel], with a little of my husband plus some imagination thrown in.” Detective Wade Jackson has been in 5 novels now starting with The Sex Club, and the latest Dying for Justice just came out in March. All of the thrillers have received resounding reviews and Detective Jackson has gained quite a following both in the local community and around the world. “I originally considered setting the first book, The Sex Club, in Salem because it’s the capital. Then about halfway through, it occurred to me that the detective would make a great series character, and that it made more sense to write about Eugene, where I live. Why not?”
Seller’s fictional Eugene is not much different than the one we live in, an ex-logging town turned burgeoning meth-o-polis/backwoods San Francisco. We’ve seen violent crime increasing as our population and our problems grow out of control, meanwhile our government can’t even afford to pay someone to teach our kids. On the other hand these problems are not unique. The Emerald City is also a thriving community with heavily dedicated people that really do have our best interests in mind. “Local readers say my series is very reflective of Eugene. My protagonist, is aware of the escalating violence in Eugene and my series reflects that, with the last two books, Passions of the Dead and Dying for Justice, containing more violence than the first three.”
When it comes to character however, Detective Jackson defies the “Homicide Cop” norm. “I purposefully didn’t want Jackson to be the typical cop that you see in so much crime fiction: alcoholic, bitter, lonely, and dysfunctional. So I wrote about a stable, good-hearted family man who struggles with all the same things we do: divorce, financial troubles, and family issues.” Said Sellers, “Readers have responded very well to the character.”
L.J. Sellers was born in Santa Rosa, California, but moved to Oregon at a very early age, the third of six kids. Growing up in Cave Junction almost her entire life, Sellers was tired of the small town, and at 18 packed her VW Bug and drove North towards civilization. She graduated from the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication with a degree in Journalism (same here!) and has been writing non-fiction since… but never gave any thought to writing fiction. “One day, I was reading a particularly bad novel and tossed it to the floor, thinking I could write a better story than that… On August 7, 1989, I sat down to write my first novel.”
Years later, after coutless sumissions, scripts, screenplays, stories, etc… LJ published the first Detective Jackson story, The Sex Club. “I feel very passionately about the subject matter, so it was a story I had to write, even knowing that it might never be published.” It was, and not only is she continuing to get published, Sellers is one of the many authors helping to reinvent the way we think about publishing.
It all started when the economy tanked. With both her and her husband being laid-off, the bills were piling up and freelancing was not cutting it. LJ had two book deals going for two stand-alone thrillers she’d already written, and her next follow-up Jackson novels were being published (by a publisher) to Kindle. The problem was, all of these were set to release in the near-future, all set up along an old-school publishing schedule. That wasn’t going to pay the mortgage, so Sellers gambled on herself, withdrew from her book deals and her publisher, and self-published all of her works on Amazon. What do you know it? Money actually began to come in. She was writing furiously, getting more Jackson novels online, cutting prices, and guest blogging to get the word out about her novels. It worked.
“In January of 2010, I had one book on Kindle and sold 31 copies. I had two print books on the market with a small publisher, and they weren’t selling much better. In December, I had six books on Kindle and sold over 10,000 copies.” She wrote earlier this year on a guest blog.
How did all of this start? Well in 1971, Project Gutenberg became a volunteer effort to digitize important works in order to encourage the future creation and distribution of eBooks. 30 years later the nation’s largest book chain has filed for bankruptcy due to the decline in popularity of the printed word. In July of last year (2010), Amazon.com reported that sales of ebooks for Kindle outnumbered the sales from hardcover books for the first time ever.
“The whole publishing industry is teetering on the edge of collapse, and the big presses will have to reinvent themselves if they want to stay in business. They may have to give up their expensive Manhattan offices and contract out more of their services. They’ll also have to start offering writers better royalties on digital books. Amazon pays indie authors 70 percent of the cover price, which authors set themselves,” Said Sellers. “Print books won’t disappear, but they will become more and more scarce, especially in fiction.”
In the meantime, authors like LJ Sellers and her Detective Jackson stories will only continue to see increased popularity online. “…I get emails every day from people who urge me to write faster so they can get their next dose of Jackson.”
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