Hey, guys! First off, I want to say thank you. Thank you for giving JM Books Co a follow. Thank you for all the support, especially over these last few months. And, thank you for inviting my books into your homes. I never thought my stories would find their way into people’s homes whom I have never met before. But, they have. And, I feel so grateful.
Now, onto the Q&A. Here we go.
Q: How long is the process, from when you start writing to when the book gets published?
A: For every book, the process has been different. The funny part is that the writing is usually the easiest part. Long before I come up with the idea for a story, I’m doing research. And, that’s the hard part. Since I write historical fiction, every detail has to be accurate. It’s a good thing I love learning. Once I have an idea for a book, I write an outline. Then, the writing begins. And, of course the outline for the book changes as I write. The characters change. I change. The story changes. Several months later, the first manuscript is done and then begins the most dreaded part: editing. Editing always takes longer than the actual writing. By the time I have sent the manuscript off to my editor, I’ve already spent a few months editing it myself. So, from beginning to end, if I work on the project daily (even if I just spent 30 minutes devoted to the project), it takes me about 18-24 months. The only reason my third book (St Ives Memory) came out 14 months after A Song for Somme was published is because I was already drafting content for St Ives Memory while I was in the editing stage of A Song for Somme. It’s quite a process, but worth it!
Q: Would you ever write a mystery novel?
A: Oh, this is a tough question. Mystery is my favorite genre. It all started with Nancy Drew. When I was a little girl, a true treat on the weekend was when my parents would take me to Borders (anyone remember Borders?) and tell me I could choose one book to take home. I always went for a Nancy Drew book. The only problem is that it got to a point where we would go to Borders and I had read all of the books that were on the shelves. I wanted to be like Nancy. I mean what is more cool than solving mysteries? Fast forward to high school, my step-mom introduced me to my favorite author: Kate Morton. She is seriously the most brilliant of authors. She blends two of my favorite things together: mystery and historical fiction. So, while I don’t think I will ever write a mystery novel one day, I do add a lot of mysterious elements to my books. I try to keep my readers guessing. Just like Kate Morton does, when you think you’ve figured it out, you really haven’t, and I try to do the same in my novels. I want readers to say, “Wow. I did not see that coming.” Because, truthfully that’s a lot like life. Sometimes the best or worst things come along and we never saw it coming.
Q: How do you settle on character names?
A: This is quite a fun question, and it’s one that I have never been asked before. For all of my books, I have some back stories behind the names that I chose. And, then for others, they just sort of came to me.
For Unkempt Secrets from The War, I had first written this book in high school. You don’t want to read the first version. It will make you cringe. I don’t think it exists anywhere in the universe, unless my friends from high school still have it on their hard drives somewhere. My HS friends were so kind to have been the first brave souls to read it. Thankfully, during my final year of college, I decided to re-write the book, although I did keep a lot of the storyline in there. Anyways, enough of the back story on how my first book came to be. When I chose the names for my first book, it came from my childhood. I had a doll named Nellie(Nel) and loved the name so much that I told myself that one day, I would name my daughter such. Instead, I named my first character as such. As for my other main character, William, this next bit makes me laugh. Consider the fact that I am telling you this is because I’m glad that you are still here reading this blogpost. When I was 11, I had the biggest crush on Peter(William Moseley) from the Narnia series. And, that’s where the name comes from. So, thanks, William. Your acting inspired my little self and then high school self to name a character after you, ha! As for the characters in my second and third book, I’ve shared this before, but the entire story was inspired by the life of C.S Lewis of which I knew that I had to name my main character with a name that started with L. That’s where the name Lloyd comes from. As for the rest of the names, I did what most moms do when they are about to have a child (or, what I think most moms do). I went through a directory of names. Thousands of thousands of names, until a name just stood out with the character I was already creating in my head. The only problem is that all my favorite names have been given to characters in my books, so now I have no idea what I will name my future kids one day.
Q: And when is the next book coming out?
A: Okay, this was the most asked question. It is also the number one question that I have gotten in quarantine (are you writing a book right now?). It put such a big smile on my face. And, it makes me smile now, because this is the first place that I have decided to officially announce that I am working on a new novel. It is slow and coming, and it might be another couple years before it ever releases, but a story has found me and I can’t let it go. Also, funny enough, I have not done any writing since quarantine began, because as every church and work creative knows, the past couple months have been the busiest in my creative career (which I would have no other way).
The book that I am currently working on was inspired by some research that I had stumbled upon, on a subject that I was not familiar with at all. That is why it’s going to take some time to write this book. Writing fiction is a hobby for me, just as much as photography or running is, so I try not to give myself any deadlines and just enjoy the process of writing. It’s a creative outlet for me, and I’m so happy that I’ve been able to share it with you guys over these past few years. I had told myself that I wouldn’t write another book for at least another decade, but as my friends are always kindly telling me, “writing is part of who you are, Jen.” So, they are right. It’s not something that I want to just keep for myself. I want to share it with others, from writing historical fiction novels that deal with difficult themes whose purpose is to bring forth story lines of redemption and hope, to writing books/blogposts on faith and life.
I’m really so thankful for the writing community, for whoever is reading this, for the friends and strangers from all over who have read these books and supported me in my writing. I don’t just say this to say this. I truly mean it. As any creative knows, sharing your work with the world is terrifying. But, when you have a great support system, it makes it a little easier.
Until next time, cheers!