|Click the cover to read the first two chapters|
Hi Jill! It's nice to have you here. I'll be asking several of the same questions I asked Stephanie, since every writer is different; therefore, naturally, your routines and experiences will mean different answers. Let's get started!
How long have you been writing?
I started writing books in 2004.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Nope. When I was younger, I wanted to be a fashion designer. I went to college in Manhattan to finish my fashion degree, then my husband and I moved to Los Angeles so I could work in fashion and he could work in movies. After about three and a half years in our “dream jobs,” we’d both had it. It was The Devil Wears Prada for me, and Brad’s experience wasn’t much better. We had a talk one night and decided that it was okay to pursue other things. Brad went back to school to become a youth pastor, and I started my own wedding gown manufacturing business. The gowns were beautiful—and I still have two in my closet—but I discovered that fashion was not my calling.
Wow. That's a very different story than Stephanie's. I will say I'm now very interested in your dress business... might you share a photo of those dresses sometimes? I'm a girl; I just like to look at them. :)
Anyway. Moving on!
Why did you start writing?
As I thought more and more about what I was supposed to “be” when I grew up, I knew I wanted to speak to teens. I wanted to encourage them in some way. I discovered that sometimes, people hire speakers based on articles written by the speaker. So I looked into writing articles. Then the new Harry Potter book came out, and a new barrage of debates within the church community flared up as to whether or not the books were bad for Christians to read. The debate inspired me to write my own teen novel that all Christians would love. Yes, I was a bit naive. I have since learned that no one likes every book. But that’s how I got started. I was inspired to try and write blockbuster-style stories for teens that glorified God.
Who or what has had the most influence on you as a writer?
I’d say that movies have had the most impact on me as a writer. I love the idea of trying to write fast-paced books that read like movies.
|Click the cover to read the first chapter|
It depends on the book. And I usually do very little research until I need it. Then I have to stop writing and look up what kinds of poisonous mushrooms grow in Colorado, police procedures when there is a gunman and a fire on the scene, or how to take out the power in an entire city. Thankfully I have a few go to guys who help me out with some of the gun and fire stuff. And the internet is very useful too.
Haha, that's how I used to be - but always stopping for research drove me nuts, so now I scrutinize and micro-examine everything before I actually start writing.
Do you base events or people in your books off of your life, or your friends' and family's lives?
Not really. I did at first. And every once in a while someone says something that I love, and I write down the phrase and stick in in one of my book folders. But I’ve found that when you try and base characters off real-life people, they end up being forced characters. When you write a book, your characters come alive, and that real-life friend of yours isn’t the same person as the one in your book. And forcing that can sometimes ruin a story—in my experience anyway.
What do you do when you're not writing?
I spend time marketing? I also read to my kids, watch movies with my husband, hand out with our youth group, place guitar, mess around on Photoshop.
What was your favorite book or author as a teen? What's your favorite now?
As a teen I was obsessed with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. It’s what my mom got me reading and there were so many that they kept me busy through junior high. In high school, I didn’t read much. I played basketball and listened to music. Now, I have way too many favorite authors to name. Some of the books that I’m super excited about are Travis Thrasher’s Solitary Tales and Shannon Dittemore’s Angel Eyes trilogy.
Ooh, I loved Angel Eyes - can't wait for the next book! I actually reviewed the first one here.
What was the biggest obstacle to getting published for the first time, and how did you overcome it?
The biggest obstacle is getting your story just right. And that simply takes time and patience. Another big obstacle is finding a publisher to take a chance on a new author. It’s a very small market out there.
What is your writing process? Do you write regularly at certain times or just when inspiration hits?
I spend several weeks brainstorming a new story. I outline it a little using a brainstorming worksheet like the one on my website. Then I take the next month or two to write out the first draft. I try and write 2000-3000 words a day, starting in the morning. Once I get my rough draft done, I go back in and decide if I need to rearrange things, cut or add characters or scenes. Then I start rewriting. And I tend to rewrite as much as possible right up to my deadline.
What keeps you motivated?
Deadlines! Ha ha. I’ve signed a few contracts, so the fact that I have deadlines when books are due to be turned in is a huge motivation. If I didn’t have a deadline, I’d move at a much slower pace.
Sounds like me... and I still have no deadlines. :S Except during NaNo! Gotta love NaNo. :)
Are there any books you wish you'd written?
Sure, I often think, “Man! Why didn’t I think of that?” But even if I had, I would have written it differently. I often think of the book The Lovely Bones. That book drove me crazy! It was such a brilliant idea, and so many things went wrong, in my opinion. I’d love to have written that book in a different way.
What is The New Recruit, your latest book, about?
Forced to choose between military school and a Christian spy organization, skeptic Spencer Garmond signs on with the Bible geeks. But before he even boards the plane for Moscow, Spencer realizes this is no Bible club.
These guys mean business.
Stumbling onto a case involving a gang of homeless boys, a chilling tattoo, and the always beautiful Anya Vseveloda, Spencer struggles to find the faith needed to save the Mission League from enemy infiltration.
What inspired this book?
This was the very first book I ever wrote. I pieced it together in a very backwards way. I was trying to write a story about teens going out into the world like missionaries, but since teen fiction books about missionaries weren't getting the attention of agents and editors, I thought, let's tweak the story and turn them into undercover agents.
Do you have any advice for aspiring teen authors like myself - or any age, for that matter?
Just write a lot! And don’t worry about getting published until you’ve written several books and polished them. Be patient and enjoy the process of creating and learning. If you rush things, you’ll regret it.
Thanks so much for coming, Jill! I had fun :)