Today I welcome Jenn McLeod to Flying Pony.
Jenn’s debut novel A House For All Seasons is out March 1 and has the most gorgeous cover. Here’s a little taste of what you can look forward to reading:
Bequeathed a century-old house, four estranged friends return to their hometown, Calingarry Crossing, where each must stay for a season at the Dandelion House to fulfil the wishes of their benefactor, Gypsy.
But coming home to the country stirs shameful memories of the past, including the tragic end-of-school muck up day accident twenty years earlier.
Sara, a breast cancer survivor afraid to fall in love;
Poppy, a tough, ambitions journo still craving her father’s approval;
Amber, a spoilt socialite addicted to painkillers and cosmetic procedures;
Caitlin, a doctor frustrated by a controlling family and her flat-lining life.
At the Dandelion House, the women will discover something about themselves and a secret that ties all four to each other and to the house – forever.
Thanks for visiting Jenn. A House For All Seasons sounds like my kind of book!
And don’t forget anyone who subscribes to my blog (Flying Pony) or follows me on twitter (@justwritetoday) over the next two weeks goes in the draw to win a signed copy of Blackwattle Lake. Just remember to leave a comment or send me a message with the hashtag #Blackwattle Lake so I know you’ve signed up.
Here’s Jenn’s interview – enjoy!
1.What activities (other than writing) get your creative juices flowing?
Obviously reading will spark ideas. But for every book that makes me say, “I can write something better than this.” I will read a book and say, “I wish I could write like that.”
I also love watching/deconstructing) DVDs, especially on a cold wintry day, with the dogs snuggled on my lap and a steaming cup of homemade soup warming my hands. Bliss. I find movies will help me get myself out of plot hole. Alexandra Sokoloff talks about breaking movies down into scenes to get a template for a story. I admit to deconstructing a novel for my 2nd book (out this time next year, called The Simmering Season.) Which book did I deconstruct? Hmm, maybe I’ll tell next year.
2.What sort of writing routine do you have – disciplined or undisciplined, regular or erratic, focused or easily distracted?
I’m disciplined in that I sit at the computer! Is that what you mean?
These days, particularly now with House for all Seasons being launched, I am finding a lot of my creative energy goes into Facebooking, Tweeting and blogging (loosely defined as promotion!)
But social media has become a necessary evil – a good evil, mostly – and should form part of a writer’s journey. It’s about connecting with readers. They expect it these days. So when I was asked to take part in a twelve month online blogging program (with some other amazing authors, I might add) I said ‘yes please’! That program is called Novel Writing in Australia – see link below.
3. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and if so what do you do about it?
I walk. My writing buddy and I (yes, I am fortunate to have someone cheer me on from the sidelines, like a sideline Mum who yells when you are dropping the ball, then cajoles when you scrape your knee.) We walk every day and talk writing. When I’ve dug a plot hole deeper than the Grand Canyon (and House for all Seasons had a few) she gets me out – and usually with something so darn simple…!!
Sometimes a writer gets too close. We need someone to pull us back so we can see the broader picture. The answer is usually always there.
4. Which aspects of the writing life do you most love?
- The endless possibilities.
- That a writer can go places and experience things in their heads.
- Fictional friends who make you laugh and cheer (but who occasionally let you get in touch with your other emotions too).
5. Which aspects do least love (or detest!)?
My pathetic hunt and peck typing. My fingers fail to keep up with my brain, which can mean losing that spurt of creativity before the words make it to the page. It’s like drinking from a cup with a leak. Some of the words will escape and drip down your jumper instead of landing on the page!
6. What books and writers have most influenced your own writing?
These days I’m drawn to authors for their specific styles: Lisa Heidke’s witty dialogue ( www.lisaheidke.com); Posie Graeme-Evans’ stunning scene setting (http://posiegraemeevans.net/), Sara Foster’s wicked weaving of plots and characters (http://www.sarafoster.com.au/); Monica McInerney’s eclectic cast and clever characterisation (http://www.monicamcinerney.com/); the mischievous Marian Keyes for the giggle factor (http://www.mariankeyes.com/Home), and Jodi Picoult’s tackling of real-life issues (http://www.jodipicoult.com.au/).
Authors who influence my writing are generally the ones whose books sustain my interest to the end – but mostly the ones whose books don’t (because they are the books that teach me what not to do.)
7. Can you describe for us your writing process, from getting the original idea to completed manuscript?
My first two books – House for all Seasons and The Simmering Season – both started as NaNoWriMo projects (National Novel Writing Month). That means I did 50,000 words in 30 straight days, and 50k is the skeleton of a story that sits around 140k at the end. Having the bare bones in place (ie the hip bones connected to the thigh bones etc) I link them with good meaty muscle tissue, whack in a few vital organ, flesh out the characters (I call this layering/character depth), dress it up so it’s prose perfect. Then I polish it some more, sub it, edit it, proof it, hold it in my hands, promo it and get onto the next book.
I will usually start a novel with a title and a tagline and a secret. I do love a secret and as my tagline suggests… “Small towns can keep big secrets.”
8. Please describe your path to publication.
My path started like most people start out: I dared to dream. Then came finding the discipline, making the time, learning the business and securing the right support (trying various options).
- I found an online support group that suited my needs and listened, practiced, wrote and ripened.
- I wrote and entered contests.
- I attended conferences and networked online.
- I built up a support group online and I found the courage to start submitting.
- I submitted earlier manuscripts dozens of times, learning something with each rejection – if not about my writing, then about myself and my ability grow and care less about the little stuff – and to keep trying.
- I set a do or die deadline – my 50th birthday.
- I signed with Curtis Brown Literary Agency the day before I turned 50! Phew!
- Two years later House for all Seasons hit the bookshops.
9. What advice would you give to writers who are working towards publication?
Start now. It’s never too early, nor too late. Join a writing group. Attend a conference. Believe. Read widely. And if you’re going to tell anyone you’re writing (and show them your work) toughen up to criticism and feedback. Oh, and learn patience. The publishing business is a long process with lots of blank spaces and scary silences.
And follow my blog posts! [http://writingnovelsinaustralia.com/2013/01/10/my-journey-of-becoming-a-published-novelist-by-jenn-j-mcleod/]
If my posts don’t inspire, then one of the other eleven authors each month will, including: Helene Young www.heleneyoung.com, Phillipa Fioretti http://phillipafioretti.com.au/, Alison Booth www.alisonbooth.net, Belinda Dorio http://belindadorio.com.au/, Greg Baron http://gregbarron.com/
Connect with Jenn:
Website: www. jennjmcleod.com
My Novel Writing in Australia blog post #1 http://writingnovelsinaustralia.com/2013/01/10/my-journey-of-becoming-a-published-novelist-by-jenn-j-mcleod/
House for all Seasons (Simon and Schuster, Australia) Available wherever books are sold (incl Big W, Kmart and Target). Also available on e-book (iBooks, Amazon www.amazon.com, and Kobo http://www.kobobooks.com/)