JYTBB: We both would like to start off by saying thank you so much for this interview!!
JENNIFER: Y’all are really sweet to have me!
JYTBB: For those that don't know who you are--you know, the ones living under a rock--can you tell them about yourself?
JENNIFER: I write teen romantic comedies for Simon Pulse. My novels out now are Major Crush, set in a high school marching band, and The Boys Next Door, set on a lake in summer. The Ex Games, about a snowboarder who challenges her ex-boyfriend to a battle of the sexes on the slopes, will be published on October 6. I also have a darker teen drama published by MTV Books called Going Too Far.
JYTBB: When writing, what inspires you? What and or who helps with your ideas?
JENNIFER: I read, listen to music, talk to friends, and get of the house and have new experiences, and all of that eventually comes together in unexpected ways to create an Idea.
JYTBB: We need to know, what was the inspiration behind Going Too Far?
JENNIFER: I love the TV shows COPS and Reno 911, and I had an idea for a romantic comedy about teenagers who have to ride together in the back of a cop car to learn about police work. Then I decided that it would be a lot more interesting for the romance to be between one of the teenagers and the cop. Obviously this was no longer Simon Pulse romantic comedy territory, but I really liked the idea, so I stuck with it.
JYTBB: Do you know what fanfiction is? If so, how do/would you feel about others writing about your characters?
JENNIFER: When I was in junior high school, my BFF and I would spend the night with each other and stay up until the wee hours, high on caffeine, re-writing Lois Duncan novels starring us and the boys we had crushes on. That was a low-tech version of fanfic. Right now I’m reading Lessons from a Lifetime of Writing by David Morrell, author of First Blood (on which the Rambo movies are based). He says when he was a teenager, he loved the TV show Route 66, and he tried writing Route 66 episodes (which were rejected). That was also a low-tech version of fanfic. A lot of writers get their start this way, and if another writer wants to experiment with my characters, I consider that the sincerest form of flattery. But that only goes so far. As Morrell says, if you want to be a professional writer, eventually you must “adapt the approaches of writers who’ve inspired you so that you move onward, creating something new. Use your singular background to create themes and approaches unique to you, even though you might have been inspired by other writers. In the end, a first-class you is better than a secondhand version of somebody else.”
JYTBB: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." - Anything as beautiful as being a professional author has to have its ups and even its downs. Could you tell us your best of times and worst of times since you began your journey?
JENNIFER: The best of times is anytime I’m writing. I absolutely love becoming so absorbed in a book that I can hardly get anything else done because ideas pop into my head while I’m working or cleaning or cooking, and I have to go write them down. (I burn a lot of dinners this way.)
The worst of times is anytime I’m not writing, like now. I’m waiting to hear whether Simon Pulse wants another book after The Ex Games and whether MTV Books wants another book after Going Too Far. If I don’t hear something in the next few days, I’ll start writing something anyway, because there is just so much I can stand of Not Writing.
JYTBB: As writers ourselves (non published, for now) we know about that creepy evil annoyance known as "writers block". If you've been unfortunate enough to get it, can you tell us and others how you push passed it?
JENNIFER: Sit down and write. Usually people don’t come up with a whole idea, then sit down and write it. They start writing, and more and more ideas come to them. So that’s what you have to do. And if you feel yourself slowing down because you don’t like what you’re writing, change it. If you hit a roadblock, drive around it, or write something else for a while and come back to that part later. But most importantly, you have to write every day without fear. Writer’s block is the fear of writing something bad, and if you give into that fear, you may never write anything at all.
JYTBB: We have been seeing around the internet that fans have picked their own "Megs" and "Johns". If Going Too Far was ever to become a movie and you were able to pick the leads, who would you have as your leading lady and hottie?
JENNIFER: I was so impressed with Kristen Stewart from In the Land of Women, and the thought crossed my mind that she would be a great Meg. But that was before she was cast in Twilight, and I’m not sure she can ever be cast in anything else after that.
John is difficult. While I was writing the book I had a photo of him above my computer that I’d torn from a Levi’s ad in a magazine, and that’s how I’ll always picture him.
Honestly, I am the worst person to ask, because I don’t watch a lot of TV or see a lot of movies.
JYTBB: Writing is a passion. It's not meant to be done for money or for fame. Those who write should do it for the love of it. If you didnt have that love or that passion, what do you think you would be doing right now?
JENNIFER: I also have a job as a copyeditor that I dearly love. If I didn’t write words, editing them full-time would be the next best thing.
JYTBB: Writers love to read. It's just an automatic thing to do when you love producing words. What could your readers find on your book shelf?
JENNIFER: I’m a huge Jane Austen fan, and I was a grad student in English for a long time so I’m pretty well schooled in the classics. Of course I read a lot of YA. I also love adult romance novels. Jennifer Crusie is my idol, and I hope to have an adult romantic comedy published someday.
JYTBB: There are three amazing books of yours already on the shelves and a fourth one on its way. What future books are us lucky fans going to be graced with?
JENNIFER: I wish I knew! See question #5.
BONUS QUESTION: Can you please tell us 5 random or fun facts about yourself?
1. I was the first female drum major of my high school marching band.
2. My house is built from bricks recycled from a huge department store in downtown Birmingham that was torn down in the 1960s, and that my mother used to shop in when she was in college. (I didn’t build the house--I bought it from the original owners--but I’m proud to own a little piece of history.)
3. I am an art festival addict. I can’t draw, but I love to look at other people’s paintings.
4. My 7-year-old son is the World’s Most Talkative Child.
5. My husband is from Thailand, and we plan to travel there soon to meet relatives he hasn’t seen since he was 2.
Thanks Cheryl and Amber!