Jamie Wilson was almost born the daughter of a white sharecropper in Kentucky. She was raised in a family of rogues, rednecks, and Reagan conservatives, all of whom were back-porch storytellers. She could never have been anything but a writer. Today, she owns the website conservativefiction.com and considers herself to be an activist for conservative writers and artists. You can often find her at the Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance on Facebook. Jamie is happily married to a U.S. Navy sailor. When not writing or doing something writing-related, she’s usually caring for their five children.
1. Who are some of your favorite writers, books, movies, and intellectual influences?
I started reading early, at the age of four. My fifth-grade teacher introduced me to The Hobbit when she realized I’d read the entire children’s section at our small public library. By sixth grade, I had read The Lord of the Rings nine times. Later I discovered Tolkien’s marvelous philosophical writings, most outstandingly “On Fairy Stories.” In my opinion, there has never been a better summation of what fantasy stories ought to be.
The most influential storyteller in my life, however, was my great-grandfather, William Jennings Bryan Eldridge, known as Windy by his friends because he was always ready to tell a story.
My ‘papaw’ was a well-known scamp and scoundrel as well as a gifted raconteur. He had run moonshine back in Prohibition and was friends with Pretty Boy Floyd. Age did not diminish his penchant for roguishness. He used to take me to Port Royal, Kentucky (a tiny, sleepy community and the model for Wendell Berry’s Port William) where he got his monthly haircut. Afterwards he’d take me to the little general store, where the old men gathered to play checkers and gossip, and he’d commence to brag about how I could read anything you put in front of me “just like a growed-up person.” Inevitably, someone would bite. Papaw would place a $20 bet, someone got the well-thumbed Bible down from its shelf, and the fool who would soon be parted from his money chose a passage. Papaw won his bet every time.
As for movies, I am a child of Generation X, which means I grew up on science fiction television and movies. My parents watched Star Trek reruns religiously when I was a child – every Sunday at noon. Of course we saw Star Wars and the Indiana Jones movies – all delightful examples of real storytelling ability. In college, my favorite writing professor introduced me to Joseph Campbell’s ideas about mythology and I realized that the reason I loved all these tales was that they all drew from the Story, the great pattern all humans instinctively recognize.
2. How do you describe yourself ideologically?
I am a fiscal conservative and a tolerant social conservative, by which I mean I am very conservative in my own life and believe that is the best choice but think others should be as free as possible to make their own choices. Fiscal and social conservatism, however, are of necessity conjoined. Social liberalism cannot survive without the irresponsible fiscal practices our country has engaged in for the last fifty or so years. If the financial support of the government is removed from libertine habits, people will of necessity become more conservative socially. Every time there’s an economic downturn, the divorce rate drops, rebounding when there’s an improvement in the economy. If we decreased welfare spending, I think we’d see more people getting jobs, often the jobs Americans supposedly won’t do.
3. Which thinkers/commentators have influenced you?
I’d have to go first with Dr. Thomas Sowell, who is one of our best minds in economics and social commentary, and then with Walter Williams. The one person who most opened my mind politically was probably Jonah Goldberg with his groundbreaking book Liberal Fascism. I also love reading anything by Ben Shapiro, Ann Coulter, and John Stossel; they all do amazing research and turn up information the mainstream media prefers to ignore. I am also a huge fan of Greg Gutfeld; he was the first genuinely funny conservative I was ever exposed to (Dennis Miller is really a libertarian in practice).
4. Where are you from/currently reside?
I’m originally from the tobacco farming regions northeast of Louisville, Kentucky. My family can trace our lineage back to the people who came with Daniel Boone and to the Cherokee who lived in Kentucky prior to that. My culture is nearly all Appalachian. If you’ve seen Justified, that is very much the sort of culture I grew up around, though without so many drugs and explosives used only for non-criminal purposes. I’m a military wife now, so we’ve lived all over. Currently we are looking at transitioning from Augusta, Georgia to Norfolk, Virginia.
5. What are your writing goals?
Above everything else, I want to promote conservative and libertarian writers who create stories from that point of view. To that end, I own the website conservativefiction.com and participate in several forums to help conservative/libertarian writers network with others of the same political bent and improve their skills over time. We have been isolated for a very long time; traditional writing programs do not welcome us and we don’t have any writing programs of our own. As for my personal goals, in addition to writing short stories, I have three novels I’m trying to finish — a historical, a contemporary supernatural fantasy, and a straight-up high fantasy. I would love to have two of these completed by the end of the year.
6. Where can people find/follow you online?
7. What’s your craziest hobby/pastime/interest?
I have five children; I don’t have a lot of time for hobbies! I do, however, like dressing up at science fiction and fantasy conventions. I play Dungeons and Dragons with my family; my current character is a blue birdlike Jedi (Omwati, for those who know the Star Wars universe) who sort of fell through a black hole into the D&D universe. Otherwise, I read a heck of a lot of books and go all Gollum over my Kindle and iPad and iPhone — they are my Preciouses, yesss.
Excerpt From “The Biscuit Boy“:
Helen had just finished the dishes and was wiping her hands on her faded apron when she heard the whine of an unfamiliar car making its way up her mountain. Right on time, she thought. It had been in her tea leaves earlier that day: a stranger in trouble. She cocked her head to listen as she moved toward the door, stepping over Pete to pull on her galoshes. Pete’s tail thumped once against the pine wood floor.
“Good dog,” she said absently. It wasn’t a local car; she knew the rattle and skip of every engine down in Ramsdell. This car ran quiet, humming rather than growling. “Must be one of those new-fangled electric cars.”
The rented Prius glided out of the trees, bumping slowly across the exposed stones and dirt of the mountain road. Its smooth angles were somehow alien to the heavy pine boughs and Queen Anne’s lace that closed around it, brushing the pearly green metallic finish. A skinny girl gripped the wheel, focused on inching forward. She looked vaguely familiar.
She had been crying. Helen could see the silvery residue of tears on her face, where the girl had just smudged them away. Helen thought–now who was she? Memories unfolded–a girl from Helen’s class, pregnant, moving away from the shame, never coming back…
“She’s Ida Jean’s daughter,” Helen murmured to herself. “Looks just like her daddy.”
The Prius stopped, and the girl emerged unsteadily. She wore a pink and beige suit, her tan pumps completely inappropriate for the soft loam of Helen’s front yard. She opened the screen door and waited, arms folded. Closer, it was clear that the girl was a grown woman. Still skinny, though. The fragrance of expensive perfume, sparingly applied, wafted from her silk scarf.
The young woman blinked at her. “Miz…Highwater?”
“I believe you need some tea.”
She smiled unsteadily. “That would be welcome, yes.”
Helen nodded. “You just get your son out of the car there and come inside.”
The woman’s smile crumpled, and the tears welled up again. “I’m…alone.”
Helen looked more closely at the car. “I see. Well, you best come in then.”