Wednesday sure did come fast this week!
First, I would like to thank my new subscribers, Ink Drop Interviews had a very good week! We may not be moving mountains yet, but we’re clearing the hills… Thank you, all.
Now, for this week’s interview: J. F. Jenkins, author of several works, such as: ‘The Dragons Saga: Legend of the Oceina Dragon’, ‘Matrimonial Mayhem’, and ‘Vala: Agendas’.
IDI – Some writers have been known to be eccentric, from keeping rotting apples in a desk drawer to only being able to write while standing upright. Do you have any quirks or superstitions that have become as integral to good writing as plot and character?
IDI – Are your stories plot or character driven?
JFJ - Character, I would definitely say character. Whether you love them or hate them is another story, but they’re almost always the main focus of what’s going on. Stephen King says it best, it’s all about taking a character and putting them from situation to situation to see how they react and that keeps it interesting.
IDI – When people ask, ‘why do you write’, ‘I reply I’m either creative, or a pathological liar. I haven’t decided yet!’ Actually, I think (in part) that writing is almost like being schizophrenic, but without the personalities coming out verbally. Seriously, we become the people we write, at least for a time. We have to feel what they feel, think what they think, know what they know… so how can we not ‘be’ them? Agree? Disagree? What are your thoughts?
JFJ – I agree to an extent. I can definitely feel the heartbreak of my characters, their joy, their everything. When I write, I make a lot of faces. When I plot, I do the same. A lot of people ask me why I’m looking a certain way or another, and it’s hard to tell them, ‘Oh, one of my characters just found out that their ex cheated on them so they’re super emo and thinking about slashing the exes tires.’ People don’t understand that. So I just leave it at: ‘I’m thinking.’ I talk about my characters as if they’re real people because they feel so real to me. Sometimes I walk and talk like I’m my characters as well. it’s a strange phenomenon. I call it a ‘writer’ thing.
IDI – I’ve heard arguments for each side, but when writing, do you outline or sketch the entire book before you feel comfortable enough to begin your draft or do you prefer to fly by the seat of your jockey’s?
JFJ - I do a little of both. If I have no idea where I’m going, I get lost and drop the project more often than not. but, it’s always important to leave wiggle room because things change drastically, which is what happened in my latest sci-fi book that I’m working on. My characters that I had originally intended to hook up decided to become like brother and sister, and another character decided to have a crush on someone I had not intended them to get one on. I also wrote in a spy, a psycho, and a break up. All of which I hadn’t planned.
My outlines usually look like:
-B goes to the store.
-A fights a bad guy.
-C eats a cookie and chokes,
-D saves them.
Complete with people’s names being letters and a little spot for me to check it off when it’s done.
IDI – Pen and paper or computer and Word? The bustle of Barnes & Noble or the quiet of your study? Tell us, what is your most productive/inspiring setting?
JFJ – Sometimes its pen and paper, more often than not, it’s a computer. I write from home mostly because I don’t get to leave the house much. It’s never super quiet in my house, but my ideal writing background noise has become Nick Jr. The kiddo is entertained for a solid amount of time, he’s easier to keep happy, and it’s not distracting. In fact, I want to drown it out.
IDI – Online cafe’s or writers groups (aside from social networking). Do you belong to any and if so, help or harm?
JFJ – I’m a part of a very select writing group online. I call them the Crazy Cat Ladies, but we don’t have an official title. We hang out on Google+, write, chill, flail, and all around shoot the breeze via video chat on a daily basis. We come from all over the world, and have become quite close. It’s a LOT of fun since I don’t get to leave too often because of my kiddo. It’s a good way to enjoy having a social life. This is a helpful group.
I have however been part of not-so-helpful groups. Some have been overly critical, others not critical enough, and other people have made things way too personal. for me, a good writing group is about give and take when it comes to discussing/getting help with the craft. It’s super important that it’s an even exchange. So many times it’s one-sided. It’s also important to remember to just relax sometimes and take a break.
IDI – I know I have ideas for stories that cross over the lines of my usual genre. do you have any such ideas wandering around and if so, what’s your outlook on genre crossing?
JFJ – I don’t write with a genre in mind. Sure, my work falls under some categories. My YA holds a lot of the typical popular sorts of general plot lines, but that’s about it. My fantasy might take high fantasy elements and put them in a modern setting for example (see: The Dragons Saga). My urban fantasy doesn’t follow a lot of the ‘rules’. I write the story how I feel it needs to be written. it’s exhausting to write a book based on someone else’s rules. That’s not interesting.
IDI – As a writer, what is the one thing you would most like people to know about you?
JFJ – I’m not perfect, so do not expect perfection from my work. Nor do I think I’m the ‘best writer ever’. My goal is to tell a story, and hopefully, I do it well enough that it’s enjoyable.
IDI – In your opinion, what are the biggest misconceptions new authors have about the publishing industry?
JFJ - That it’s easy and that anyone can do it. A lot of people have good ideas and poor execution. You DO need to know how to write. Every day you’ll learn something new about the craft, so read, read, read. Take a class every so often just to keep expanding your horizons. As Stephen King says in his book, ‘On Writing’, you need to know the rules before you break them.
IDI – What do you do when you’re not writing?
JFJ - Play a lot of video games, walk around my local mall, work, sleep.
IDI – When reading another author, do you find yourself taking in what you read or are you more likely to critique as you go? And if so, what is the one thing you see the most?
JFJ – It depends on the book. I find myself critiquing as I go if it’s a self published book. For some reason I’m a little overly critical of those. If ti’s a traditionally published novel, however, I tend to just read and enjoy so long as the story can suck me in.
IDI – Thank you so much for participating in an Ink Drop Interview and best of luck with your future writings.
J.F. Jenkins lives in Minneapolis Minnesota with her husband, son, and two cats. She graduated from Bethel University in 2006 with a degree in Media Communication with minors in both writing and film. When she is not busy writing, she spends her free time playing games, reading, and spending time with her family. If you’d like to learn more about her or would like to purchase her work, please follow the links below:
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