FAQ of Jennifer
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? What inspired you to write your first story?
I was one of the few writers who did not as a child weave magical stories of fairies, sleuthing kids, or talking animals. I can’t say I ever dreamed of becoming an author, either. In hindsight, I do recall I had a knack for storytelling. Whenever I had a school assignment that required writing, I groaned with the rest of the class. And I especially hated book reports. In high school, my teachers had always singled out my stories to be read for the class. As embarrassing as it was (you know how teenage girls can be), I was proud of my tales. I guess I should have seen that as a sign.
Fast forward to a handful of years ago. My creative writing college professor suggested one of my assignments was good enough to be written as a novel. I took it as a dare and quit school. I should track him down to thank him.
About how long did it take you to complete your first novel?
It took 7 short months. I quickly found out by the nice folks in New York that I sucked. Then it took another 2 years of learning my craft and editing the piece over and over and over again.
Please describe your writing journey. Hit any bumps along the way?
Oh, I’ve hit my share of bumps, drove off into ravines, run out of gas, changed a flat or two…Bottom line, I’ve been lucky. I dove into writing head first, never letting an opportunity pass by. I hooked up with the right writing buddies and have a network of wonderful supporters. That is so, so important because you just can’t do this alone. I’ve garnered recognition and validation, became a 2009 Golden Heart finalist, schmoozed, advocated, and volunteered. It’s all part of my diabolical scheme to take over the world. Er, I mean, become a successful author and buy myself a piece of paradise in the Caribbean.
What’s your typical writing day? Do you set goals?
Wake up, feed the children, start the laundry, clean the kitchen . . . oh, you mean my actual writing? That comes when the kids are at school. Depending on where I am at in the writing process, I do try to maintain a word count goal. That said, I have to be flexible with the kiddos in the house.
How much research was involved?
When writing historical fiction of any sort, there is quite a bit of research involved. Fortunately, I love history. I didn’t mind reading up, making sure my facts, as well as the liberties I take with those facts, were right.
Do you base your characters on actual people?
No. But I draw from emotional experiences I’ve had with people. I may not have been kidnapped by a handsome pirate (there is still hope Captain Jack Sparrow will knock on my front door), but I have been in a situation where the loss of free will terrified me. I try to convey that terror, or other emotion, on the page—with a bit of snark, of course.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
My advice is to write the story that encompasses your passion. Be open to constructive criticism, listen and learn. And always, always act upon opportunity. No matter how small or quiet opportunity knocks, doors open.
When you’re not writing, what do you do to relax and relieve the stresses of every day.
I have kids, relaxing is at a premium. But let’s assume for a moment the children are happily occupied and I’m not picking up after them, acting as a referee, driving them somewhere, or fielding an earth-shattering crisis. Soaking up the sun on a white, powder-soft beach whilst the sea breeze gently kisses my warm cheeks (face, not butt) and sipping an adult beverage would be divine. Or I could just do a Sudoku puzzle.
What do you find the most rewarding aspect about writing?
Validation with contest wins and nods from my peers is super, but when someone shares their vibrant excitement over my hero and heroine as if they were personal friends, well, now that is a real reward.
Funny, if not a bit clichéd, story. I dreamed one night I was whisked away to a pirate ship over a misunderstanding. It was one of those fun dreams you wished would never end. That dream stuck with me for a very long time. Once I decided to take on the challenge of writing a novel, the pirates in that dream mutinied. They threatened to keelhaul me if I didn’t tell their story. NEVER deny a pirate his pleasure.
Do you find that pirate legends are close to the truth or not at all?
All legends are based on some sort of truth. I will say that the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise does depict pirates, shipboard terminology, and pirate superstitions with a lot of elemental authenticity. But just so you know, the Kraken, half-sea-creature-half-man pirates, and giant goddesses are not real. Not sure about zombies, the Flying Dutchman, or man-eating mermaids.
Name something readers don’t know about you.
I was once the manager of a handful of rock bands, been bitten by a venomous snake, and have made millions as a lingerie model. Okay, maybe not that last bit.
Who would you consider your ideal reader?
I think my ideal reader is the person who loves a good story. Okay, lame answer. How about this? My ideal reader probably loves to go to the movies and loves to be swept away by dark action, spicy romance, and a dash of humor.