Thursday, 9 January 2014

20 questions with Author Jenna Elizabeth Johnson.

Hey all!! Well I've interviewed Author of the Otherworld series and the Legend of Oescienne series Jenna Elizabeth Johnson. And let me just say shes awesome. We did a version of 20 questions which I like to call
{Cue drum roll} 20 book questions.....Yeah I know its not the great a name but it went AWESOME!! But anyway here's the interview that I think we've all been waiting for....

Before I get into the questions, I just wanted to give Trisha at Book Haven{My first blog} a big thank you for featuring me on her blog.  It is always an honor to be considered for an interview, so I very much appreciate the opportunity to talk a little about my writing.  These were some fabulous questions and I hope that your readers enjoy hearing what I have to say.

1. Did you always want to be an author?

No.  In fact the idea of being an author didn’t really occur to me until eight years ago, right around the time I was graduating from college.  I’ve always had a pretty big imagination and I was always weaving stories in my head, but only until I actually sat down and began writing did the author bug take hold.  Now I can’t imagine wanting to do anything else.

2. When did you first become published?

I self-published my very first book, The Legend of Oescienne – The Finding, in 2009, about four years after I started writing it.  Since it was my first attempt at the whole writing thing, it took me longer to get it to where I felt comfortable with it.  I did try going the traditional route, but after a dozen or so rejection letters I decided to try self-publishing.  My novels did not, by any means, fly off the virtual shelves in the beginning, but I kept at it.  I had stories to tell, after all, and nothing was going to stop me from doing so.  It wasn’t until I published Faelorehn that my sales started to pick up.

3. What do you think is the hardest part of being an Author and Writer?

The hardest part of being a writer, for me at least, is getting that first third or half of your novel written.  Not necessarily the writing itself, but getting the bits and pieces of the story that are zipping around in your head to make sense on paper (or the computer screen).  Discovering the right way to deliver the story can be tricky when first starting out.

The hardest part of being an author, at least an independent one, is getting the word out about your books.  I use a handful of social media sites, handout bookmarks and business cards, take part in local book and craft fairs when I can and I’ve also tried some paid advertising.  It can be exhausting and not always effective, but I’m constantly on the lookout for new ways to market and discover new readers.

4. What inspired you to write Faelorehn?

A few factors led to my writing of the Otherworld Trilogy.  I usually have several projects going on at once, or at least several ideas that will eventually become projects on my mind, but the decision to sit down and write Faelorehn happened right after I finished writing the third book in my Oescienne series.  At the time I had finished reading a few of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books and realized that I’d someday like to write a series that used the Celtic pantheon as a theme instead of the more well-known Greek gods and goddesses.  In college, I studied ancient Celtic mythology and history and I wanted to spread my joy of all things Celtic to others.  This also leads into my second reason for writing Faelorehn: I knew that Celtic mythology was known among those who study it, but to the best of my knowledge at the time, it wasn’t very present in young adult fantasy novels.  Yes, I had read a few YA books that used fae elements, however many of them focused mostly on the Dark and Light faerie courts and more traditional, Tolkein-inspired European mythology.  Yes, there is a Celtic element to those stories, but I had read very few novels that mentioned the Morrigan and the other Celtic deities.  I wanted to change that.

Finally, it was Amanda Hocking’s Switched that really got me typing in the right direction.  After reading Hocking’s book (which has its roots in the Norse changeling myth), I knew it was time for the Otherworld Trilogy to be born.

5. Do you have any advice for young writers that hope to become published some day?

Do not give up.  Keep at it, even if it means getting up at four in the morning and writing before work.  Don’t be discouraged.  Yes, there will be days when you are tempted to give up but hang in there and remember that independent publishing is not what it used to be twenty, or even ten, years ago.  There are so many options and opportunities out there that if you keep trying and keep working, you’ll find your niche.

My second bit of advice is: write as many books as you can.  The more books you have published, the more you’ll get your name and work out there.  Be as prolific as you can.  Publish short stories if possible.  Whatever you need to do to make a good impression on the literary world, especially if you hope to one day make this your career.

6. Are there any authors that influenced the way you write?

I’d like to think that in a way, every author I read inspires and influences me in some way.  So many ideas have come to me while reading other books.  With that being said, there are a handful who stand out.  Sharon Shinn, Maria V. Snyder, Sherwood Smith and Ilona Andrews are some authors I’ve particularly enjoyed.  I have even come up with new ideas for my own books after reading theirs.  For example, one of the worlds Sharon Shinn created has inspired the setting for a work in progress, and Sherwood Smith’s Crown and Court Duel duology has inspired me to write my own action adventure with a dash of intrigue.

7. How long have you been writing?

I have been writing seriously for eight years now.  When I was younger, middle school age, I wrote poetry, though I’d probably be mortified should anyone stumble upon it now.  I was more interested in rhyming the words than giving them much depth at the time.

8. If you could meet any author dead or alive who would it be?

I would say any of the ones I mentioned above would be a thrill to meet.  I also wouldn’t mind meeting J.K. Rowling, especially since she has done such a fabulous job building the world for Harry Potter and writes in a genre similar to my own.

9. What inspired you to start writing?

Having read so many of the ancient Celtic and Norse sagas and myths in college, and spending so much time delving into the symbolism and history of them all helped develop my love of weaving my own stories.  And to be honest, I think I’ve always had that desire in me, it just took me some time to realize that creating stories and new worlds was what I truly wanted to do with my life.  I distinctly remember standing in my living room apartment in college and realizing that if I never wrote any of my stories down then no one would ever get to read them.  That’s when I decided it was time to give writing a serious try.

10. What inspired you to become a YA and NA author?

I started out writing for middle graders, but I think that as I grew with my writing, I felt the urge to write for a more mature audience.  Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of ideas for a variety of books for all ages.  I simply needed a change of pace and I wasn’t quite ready to write for adults yet so I went with YA/NA.  Also, my characters in the Otherworld series just happened to be at that high school/college age.

11. What do you feel is an important part of any great YA book?

I think having characters the reader can care about and relate to makes a big difference.  I remember what it was like to be in high school, struggling to fit in and figure out who I was, and also learning to be happy with that person.  Being able to escape into someone else’s world, especially if their world is much more interesting than your own, and discovering that they have the same problems and struggles as the rest of us, brings some amount of camaraderie and comfort even.  And let’s face it, getting away from reality every now and then is good for everyone.

12. What is your favorite part of being an Author and Writer?

May I mention two things?  First and foremost, discovering and developing the story and the characters.  I love that moment when a new idea comes to me or when a secondary character does something that makes me stop and pay attention.  Writing is a journey and it is so much fun to get to know my characters along the way.

Another favorite part of being an author is interacting with my readers.  I still find it hard to believe that there are people out there who have read and enjoyed my books enough to reach out and let me know.  I love getting feedback and seeing my books from their point of view.

13. How do you think the writing for YA novels have changed through the years? And was it for the better?

Before deciding to write YA, I never really read much in the genre.  What I can say is that before the fantasy and paranormal genres really took off, the novels for teens seemed more rooted in realistic fiction.  Then again, that might be because the YA novels I read in the past were required reading for school.  I’ve also noticed that YA novels have become a little more advanced over the years.  I’ve read many a review and spoken to quite a few readers my age and older who have said these novels are no longer just enjoyable for teens to read, but for adults as well.  I think that authors in this genre are doing a better job either making sure to include as wide an audience as possible, or are realizing that young adults are more mature than we’ve been giving them credit for.

14. Do you have a favorite Character from the Otherworld Series? And why are they your favorite?

Oh man, that’s like asking me to pick a favorite book.  I don’t really have a favorite character because each character has something about them that endears them to me. However, I have had characters who surprise me every now and then.  Aiden, Meghan’s little brother, is one of those characters.  I also have characters who have kept secrets from me, thus either making the overall plot more intriguing or making it hard for me to write certain scenes.  Enorah, Cade’s sister, is one example, as well as a few other minor characters who will be playing bigger parts in future Otherworld books.  If you’ve read Ghalien, then be aware that Devlin and Rhyne will be making future appearances.  And Tegan, the young girl who lives in the Weald with Enorah?  I’ve got plans for her as well.

15. When you wrote first "The Finding" did you ever think it would be published?

I had big plans for The Finding and the rest of the Oescienne series, but that was when I first started out as a bright-eyed indie author who knew nothing about the publishing world.  Let’s just say I’ve learned a lot since then, and I’m still learning.  I tried finding an agent for about a year but after a while I decided I didn’t want to wait another year or ten to see my novel in print.  I looked into independently publishing and went for it.  It was tough at first, but I stuck with it.

16. How do you deal with writers block?

When asked this question, I usually tell people that I don’t really believe in writers block.  I often go through reading and writing rampages: I’ll be lost in one of my stories and spend large chunks of time sitting down and writing it out.  When the flow of inspiration stops, I’ll be in a reading mood.  I think that reading provides a break for my Muse and also helps me come up with new ideas for new books.  But sometimes my imagination just needs a break.  It likes to discover new things, so if I stay too long in a world I’m trying to figure out with characters I don’t know all that well yet, it’s good to get away and enjoy someone else’s creations.

17. Do you hope one day young writers will read your books and say "I want to be just like that?"

I think that that would be the greatest form of flattery.  To be an inspiration to others and to make a difference in the lives of those who come after you is, in my opinion, one of the greatest accomplishments one can make during their lifetime.  I only hope that my books and my own story about how I got to where I am now will be a source of encouragement to those just starting out.

18. Do you prefer writing for males characters or females characters?

As in which perspective?  I don’t really have a preference; it all depends on which characters are speaking to me.  However, being female, I sometimes feel a bit more qualified telling things from their point of view.  This is usually the case when I’m writing in first person perspective.  When writing in third person, I don’t usually have any reservations about writing from male or female viewpoints.

19. How long on average does it take you to write a novel?

I have taken anywhere between a little over a month to two years or more to write a book.  Of course, writing my first novel, The Finding from my Legend of Oescienne series, took the longest because I was learning as I went.  Dolmarehn, the second book in the Otherworld Trilogy, took the least amount of time to write.  When the material is there and I’m on a roll, I can get quite a bit of writing done.  So, to answer your question, I’d safely say it takes anywhere between two to four months to get the book written and proofread enough for my beta readers and editor to check it out for me.

20. Where do you want to be as far as career goes 10 years from now

Hopefully I’ll be able to support myself strictly through my writing by then.  I have so many ideas for new books and book series.  Alas, if only I had more time to write them!  Fortunately, my current job gives me time off in the winter and summer, but I still feel like I’d get more writing done if that’s all I had to do.  My current goal is to write two or three books a year, so ten year from now I’m hoping to have quite an impressive collection of works under my belt.

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