- GUEST AUTHOR -
Today, I interview a genre-crossing author from the U.S.A.
Welcome, Jenn ...
1. TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.
I write mostly fiction, although I am working on a NF novel, Addy Is A Bitch, about my journey from diagnosis to learning to live with Addison’s Disease. I have published an AF series, the Jessica Hart series. At this time there are four books (Black Roses, Cerulean Seas, and Silver Bells). I am working on a fourth as yet unnamed novel. I am also working on a YA novel, Unearthly Tides.
2. WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER?
I started writing about eight years ago. We had just moved to Tacoma, WA area. We didn’t have any friends in the area. I had been unsuccessful finding a job I wanted. My husband was working 16 hour days. I had one kid in school all day and two babies and a seizure ridden dog at home. I got bored one day and started writing a story, for my sanity. I became obsessed with it, finishing it two moves and one new chronic illness later, which isn’t as long as it sounds. That book was Black Roses.
3. WHAT TYPE OF PREPARATION DO YOU DO FOR A MANUSCRIPT? DO YOU PLAN EVERYTHING FIRST OR JUST SHOOT FROM THE HIP?
I get an idea, write on it and if it takes over my focus, make it a book. The story writes itself. Unfortunately, it doesn’t name itself.
4. WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
I like immersing myself into a world of my own where time stands still. It is relaxing and soothes the spirit. Then, I get to share it with people. I absolutely love hearing from people who read my stories and knowing that for a moment, my world was real in someone else’s imagination.
5. WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
The hardest thing for me is keeping a writing schedule. My brain does its best writing when I’m not thinking about it, but you have to sit down and think about it or you’ll never get anything written. I like to keep things creative and flow into the project or not, but that doesn’t get things done.
I also really hate selling my books. Having to pitch them, and explain them. I just want to say, “I have this book. You’ll like it.” and give it to the reader, but you don’t make any money doing that and money makes the world go ‘round.
6. WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A WRITER?
I have an MS in Psychological Services and spent ten years in mental health. I worked with the severely mentally ill, sexual assault, domestic violence, addiction, kids, adults, victims, and perpetrators. I’ve been to the darkest regions of the most twisted souls minds and pieced back the mental fabric of the broken.
7. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT?
I haven’t achieved it yet.
8. WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
Life inspires me. Real life, people on the streets, overheard conversations, stories people tell, news clips, possibilities. Movies and books influence me, but without real life and real people it all falls flat. I base my stories and characters on real life, with a twist of what if.
9. WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?
I’m a certified genre crosser. My Jessica Hart series is mystery, adventure, mixed with comedy and a trace of romance.
My NF, Addy Is A Bitch, is of course a less than series look at a very series subject.
My YA is a modern day pirate adventure novel with a scifi twist.
10. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?
Writing is the easy part.
11. DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?
No, but I do suffer from a poor attention span and lack of structure, not in my writing but with my writing.
12. DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?
I like to write in the midmorning to early afternoon. I’m not a morning person, so it takes a couple of hours to get my brain in gear. And, as the day wears on, that brain gets tired. I’ve found that just about everything I write in the evening gets thrown out the next day.
13. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE?
We move around a lot, so I do not have a cool Hemmingway room to write in, but I want one. Each house we live in has a spot where I just seem to write better. Although sometimes, when everyone is home and I need to write, I go sit in my care someplace where I can stare at nature and write. I can’t write with people around, they talk to me.
14. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN WRITING?
Creating something new but real.
15. WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY?
I have a lot of respect for so many authors, but no real favourite. I tend to read everything I can by an author, and then suddenly tire of them and move on to something new. I’ll read almost anything.
16. WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?
That I was they’re favorite author. It gave me warm fuzzies.
17. WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A READER?
I had a reader give me a bad review (yes, I read them) complaining that my book was nothing about Thailand. They were right, it wasn’t about Thailand. That was just the setting. It bothered me because they obviously expected something completely different than what I had offered (did they even read the synopsis?) and then got upset about it. It was unfair.
18. WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?
19. OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
I’m an artist at heart. I enjoy painting. I taught my kids about the colorwheel and how to draw and paint on different mediums. I made some super cool stuff out of old bourbon barrel lids when we were in Kentucky. I enjoy photography, but not enough to become more than a semi-talented dabbler. Currently, I’m fascinated with upcycling furniture. I love the concept of taking something useless and bringing it new life.
20. DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK / BOOKS PROFESSIONALLY EDITED BEFORE PUBLICATION?
I am a firm believer in a proper edit. Edit, edit, edit…. It is absolutely amazing what difference a good edit makes in the plotline and readability of a book.
21. WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
We are about to PCS (Permanent Change of Station) to the D.C. area. The Army hasn’t told us exactly when to be there – sometime between April and August. So, I need to finish up some projects to free my time up to begin the moving process. We do this approximately every 1.5-3 years, so we’re pros.
22. WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON BOOK TRAILERS? DO THEY SELL BOOKS?
I’m not sure. I haven’t seen enough numbers to form an opinion.
23. DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN ANY OF YOUR CHARACTERS?
My main character, Jessica Hart in my series is my alter-ego. She is based on the person I might have been, if I had chosen another path.
24. DOES THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY FRUSTRATE YOU?
Frustrates, intimidates, keeps me up at night try to understand it. Yes.
25. DID YOU EVER THINK OF QUITTING?
When I’m out of stories, or get bored, I’ll move onto something else. Until then, I’ll write.
26. WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE YOUR BOOKS MADE INTO MOVIES? EVER WRITTEN A SCREENPLAY?
I think every writer imagines their book as a movie. It’s easy for me to imagine because when I write, it’s like I’m watching a movie. I write in scenes that play out before my imagination. I did consider writing a screenplay, but I haven’t the faintest how to go about it.
27. HOW MUCH THOUGHT GOES INTO DESIGNING A BOOK COVER?
Book covers aren’t my lane. I either like them or don’t. I don’t design them.
28. WRITING IS ONE THING. WHAT ABOUT MARKETING YOU, YOUR BOOKS AND YOUR BRAND? ANY THOUGHTS?
I’m not good at the business part. I need to sell enough books that I can hire someone to do that for me.
Clancy's comment: Well done. Keep going. I wish you heaps of sales.