The Writing Life of: Jennifer Arntson
This week on ‘The Writing Life of:‘ I am thrilled to be interviewing author Jennifer Arntson. Jennifer will be sharing with us detail of her writing life, telling us all about her latest book ‘Scavenger Girl‘, release date 20th October 2017, and answering a few fun questions too.
So without further ado I’ll hand you over to Jennifer
Jennifer Arntson has a long history of crafting tales that people find unbelievable, but often true. As an observer of human and social development through the ages, a curiosity of faith, and dedication to the underprivileged of the developing world, Jennifer finds her creative outlet in stories and fables.
She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two children, and a mini-farm of otherwise useless animals where the family eagerly caters to their every need.
1) As a child what did you want to do when you grew up?
I dreamed of being a paediatric Surgeon, and if that didn’t work out, I figured I’d settle and be a rock star.
2) Who were your favourite childhood authors?
Shel Silverstien was the first book that I picked up and really loved. Chapter books were daunting for me, but his poetry opened up my imagination. I loved the Babysitters Club Series, and just about anything by Beverly Cleary.
3) At what point in your life did you realise you wanted to be a writer?
I guess some people decide it, but for me the story itself made me a writer. I was compelled to tell it once it got in my head. Being a list maker, I figured if I wrote it all down, I’d give myself permission to let it leave my thoughts. The more I wrote, the bigger the story grew.
I’ve never experienced anything like that before. Before I knew what was happening, I had 100-pages written. It continued to gnaw at me, so I kept writing. It led to one book, then two, then five.
4) How did you go about following that dream?
I just sat down and started writing, and found I had an amazing team of people around me to help me get to where I am now.
If I’ve learned anything through this process, it’s that an author is the captain of a very creative ship. I may have been the one to draw the plans, build the ship and chart the stars, but when it comes down to it, there’s no way to sail it without the help of people who believed in me and this unpredictable voyage.
5) What is your writing day like? Do you aim for a certain amount of pages or words before you stop for the day?
Well, I still have a day job and a family, so I brainstorm during my daily commute, and write during my lunch hour. In the evening, I ditched my TV time, and wrote after the kids went to bed.
6) Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
For about two minutes then decided against it. My husband and our family was such an important part of this project, I felt that by changing my identity, I would in effect, change their association with the finished project. It’s my name, but they are my muse and source of my moxie.
7) Do you have any strange habits before starting, or whilst in the midst of writing?
There are certain types of music that really get the creative processes going. (Of course, the dishes need to be done first.)
8) Do you write longhand, typewriter, or on a computer?
I cannot live without spell-check, so the computer is the only way to go!
9) How many books have you written? Do you have any unpublished work?
I have several pieces in the works. Scavenger Girl has five books in the series in various stages of editing and pre-publishing, as well as a few short stories that compliment the series. Out side of that, I’ve a few other projects just waiting for their turn on my computer screen.
10) Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Neither. Both. I knew where the story was going, but did I always know how to get from one critical part to the next? No – That was up to the characters.
I wrote entire chapters that didn’t feel true to the characters or the world they were part of. If it was forced, it wasn’t right. I deleted it and started over. When I let the personalities of the characters lead the story, it was perfect every time. Even fictional characters need freewill.
11) Do you read all the reviews left for your book(s)?
Yes, I do. Everyone says not to, but I happen to believe even the bad reviews are good. I took an art class in High School, and the teacher taught us that all art is subjective. It doesn’t matter if the person loved it, or hated it. What is important is that it evoked emotion. The worst thing you can do to an artist is walk by their work as if it never existed at all. Apathy is the worst kind of reaction.
If my work entertains you, I’ve done a good job. If it makes you think, I’ve done a good job. If it frustrates you, stretches you, irritates you, brings you hope, strength or makes you uncomfortable…then my art has stirred an emotion in you and I’ve done a good job.
Concerning your latest book:
Season of Atchem
Publisher – Sleepy Adam
Pages – 352
Release Date – 20th October 2017
ISBN 13 – 978-0999413302
Format – ebook, paperback
Stripped of their birthright and shunned by the people of Ashlund, Una and her family are forced to live on the fringe of society as Scavengers. There is no question that her family’s bond is strong, but the law of the Authority is stronger…and soon it will come to collect her. After all, the family is on borrowed time already.
When a night of torment and truth reveals well kept secrets, Una takes new freedoms – free from the Authority, her family, and possibly her fate. Pulled between the life she’s always known and a world where status and rituals are everything, Una struggles to understand a culture that has rejected all she holds dear. As Atchem comes to an end and she learns who she really is, will Una find the courage to do what it takes to ensure her family’s survival, or will she find the faith to follow her heart?
12) How long did it take you to get from the idea’s stage to your date of publication?
It took 6 weeks to write and three years to refine. Writing was the easy part.
13) How did you come up with the names for your characters?
My children both have unique names, so I used the ones that didn’t make the cut.
14) Can you give us an insight into your main character(s) life?, What makes them tick?
Una, my MC, is a product of circumstance, but she wasn’t raised to dwell on things she cannot change. Instead, she’s smart, resourceful and looks for opportunity where others would not. Raised with a strong sense of right and wrong, she is not one set out to change the world, yet she won’t forfeit her principles to conform to it either.
15) Which was your hardest scene to write?
The night of the Atchem Festival, when Una is at the farmhouse was probably the toughest thing I’ve ever written. What she endured was beyond comprehension. I still have to take a break after reading that scene. I am in that room with her and there is nothing I could do to help her.
16) How did you come up with the title of your book?
Each book is named after the season it takes place in. Atchem is something I made up and it resonated with me for some reason.
17) Did you get a family member/friend to read your work before sending to the publishers?
Absolutely! I consider them my Alpha readers. In fact, when I first started writing Scavenger Girl, I sent it to my mom. I told her I didn’t want to know if she thought it was good or bad, but asked her to tell me if she wanted to read more when she reached the end of what I’d sent her. I think I sent her 30 pages or so. When she called me back, she asked where the rest of it was, to which I replied, “In my head.” She cut the call short and told me to get back to writing.
18) What process did you go through to get your book published?
My first draft, which I though was perfect, was actually quite flawed. Thankfully, I’m still married to the one who gently helped me see my errors! Since then, I’ve realized writing is not a one-man show (or in my case, woman).
As an Indie Author, I am responsible for every step from conception to cover art, editing and proofreading, layout and marketing, but I cannot do it alone. I have a great team of dedicated friends, family and professionals that have made this happen and I’m forever grateful.
19) What did you do once you had written the final word in your book?
I had a glass of wine…ok, maybe two.
20) What’s next for you, writing-wise?
We’re putting the finishing touches on the second book of the Scavenger Girl Series, Season of Talium, due to release in early 2018!
1) What’s your favourite food?
I’ve always wanted to run a bed and breakfast, so I’d say anything breakfast as long as there are people around to share it with! Although, since getting my Panini press, I might have to change my vote to sandwiches.
2) If you had a box of crayons and you could only choose one, which colour would you choose?
This is such and interesting question. I guess it would depend on what I was supposed to color. If I had to pick the color before I knew what I was going to use it for, I’d pick green. That looks good on everything.
3) What movie could you watch over and over again?
I don’t like to watch the same movie twice, but for some reason, I’ve watched The Fifth Element more times than I can count.
4) What would be the top song on your playlist?
Currently it’s Lost Boys by Ruth B.
5) If you won millions, what would be your first purchase?
I’d buy a modest house on acreage. It wouldn’t be lavish, but it’d be paid for.
6) A talking duck walks into your room wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses, whats the first thing he says to you?
“Honey, where are my pants?”
You can find out more about Jennifer Arntson by visiting the website/social media sites below.
I would like to say a big thank you to Jennifer for sharing with us details of her writing life, and for a wonderful interview.