Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Interview With Jennifer A. Nielsen ~ Author of The Ascendance Trilogy | Content Editing (3)

I received the amazing opportunity to interview Sara Raasch and Jennifer A. Nielsen in conjunction with a career research project as well as share my knowledge surrounding the career of Content Editing.

Jennifer A. Nielsen ~ Website | Twitter | Goodreads

Jennifer lives at the base of a very tall mountain in Northern Utah with her husband, three children, and a naughty puppy. She loves the smell of rainy days, hot chocolate, and old books, preferably all at once. She is a former speech teacher, theater director, and enjoyed a brief but disastrous career as a door-to-door pollster. In her spare time, Jennifer tends to panic, wondering what she has forgotten to do that has allowed her any spare time.

Mark of the Thief ~ Goodreads | B & N | Amazon | Book Depository 

When Nic, a slave in the mines outside of Rome, is forced to enter a sealed cavern containing the lost treasures of Julius Caesar, he finds much more than gold and gemstones: He discovers an ancient bulla, an amulet that belonged to the great Caesar and is filled with a magic once reserved for the Gods -- magic some Romans would kill for.

Now, with the deadly power of the bulla pulsing through his veins, Nic is determined to become free. But instead, he finds himself at the center of a ruthless conspiracy to overthrow the emperor and spark the Praetor War, a battle to destroy Rome from within. Traitors and spies lurk at every turn, each more desperate than the next to use Nic's newfound powers for their own dark purposes.

In a quest to stop the rebellion, save Rome, and secure his own freedom, Nic must harness the magic within himself and defeat the empire's most powerful and savage leaders.

The False Prince  ~ Goodreads | B & N | Amazon | Book Depository

THE FALSE PRINCE is the thrilling first book in a brand-new trilogy filled with danger and deceit and hidden identities that will have readers rushing breathlessly to the end.

In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king's long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner's motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword's point -- he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage's rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner's sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

An extraordinary adventure filled with danger and action, lies and deadly truths that will have readers clinging to the edge of their seats.

1. What college/university did you attend and what did you major in? Did you choose this major because you wanted to write professionally or figure out what career you wanted to pursue while you were in college?

I graduated in 1993 from Weber State University, a smaller state college, with a double major in Theater Arts and Communication Education, and a minor in history. During college, I had no intention of becoming an author - I still didn’t understand that was a career possibility for a “regular” person. Instead, I wanted to be a teacher, and I enjoyed teaching for several years before I turned to writing.

2. What is the most enjoyable part of putting a novel together, from the beginning stages of outlining, the tedious editing everyone seems to despise, or seeing your novel out in the universe for readers to enjoy?

For me, a plot is like a jigsaw puzzle. I love the moment when I’ve been struggling with a plot point and then I get it worked out. Like I’m thinking, hmm, how will my character ever get out of this one? And then suddenly, I know how. It’s the same feeling as when I’m searching the 1000 piece puzzle for the one piece that fits and then find it. Working out a difficult plot point is a great feeling, every single time!

3. It is stereotypical that authors are introverts, would you say it is difficult to communicate/work with the various people involved in the publishing of a book?

Introvert authors is definitely a stereotype - I know many authors who are very social and crave time with others. That said, when I’m at a writer’s retreat, after a few hours together, most of us start looking for the door, just to get some time in our individual caves. However, one of the great things about working with others in the publishing world is it forces even the most introverted author out of their shell. When I first started touring or visiting schools for my book releases, I used to stress the personal time with an escort or lunches with the teachers and librarians, but I actually love them now. I’m not great at small talk, but I’m a hundred times better at it than I used to be!

4. In a situation where your content editor tells you that a certain element of your novel (character, plot, theme) isn’t cohesive/people won’t “get” it, do you choose to go with your gut or attempt to see things the way they do?

I’ve never had an experience with an editor where I’m told I must change a certain element of the book. The most common feeling seems to be that it’s my name on the book, so the content ought to be what makes me most comfortable. That said, I love the editor I work with now. Among other reasons for my loyalty to her are that I trust her as an editor. If she tells me there’s something that people won’t get, I usually take her suggestion. And the book is almost always stronger because of it.

Authors who guard their own work too sacredly need to remember that in most cases, it is difficult for the creator to see their own art - we’re just too close to it. I don’t believe that anyone can edit themselves with the same quality as another editor’s contribution.

5. Besides a love of reading/books, what is the most important quality you should possess in order to have a career in the literary world?

I think the most important quality for a career author is to have a thick skin. Every single author has a career full of ups and downs - there is never a point at which you are immune from it. There are good reviews, and bad. Good sales numbers, and bad. Lots of buzz, or silence. And while it’s easy to celebrate when things are great, the author with a thick skin, who can get past the times when things aren’t so great, is the author who’s going to have a long career!

6. What is something you would consider negative about your career?

One of the challenges about working anywhere in the arts is that there is no right answer. What appeals to one person just won’t work for someone else. For that reason, it can be really frustrating for a writer who watches their reviews too carefully. Ten or fifteen years ago, writers could work in more of a bubble, which was both good and bad. Now, writers can google their name or book title and read any number of opinions about their work. That can be a great thing, but it can also kill a writer’s creativity. Over time, I’ve learned it’s best just not to look.

7. What is one thing you did in high school and/or college that you regret?

From the perspective of a writing career, I regret not giving serious consideration to becoming an author any sooner. I could’ve saved myself years!

8. What does a typical day in the life of a professional author look like? I’ve been told it’s a lot more crying and eating chocolate at 2am in sweatpants while cursing the invention of the written word than breezing through your drafts.

One of the things I love about my career is there are no typical days. I wake up each morning with very little idea of what will actually happen. I’m always writing, editing, or plotting something (usually more than one), but in between all of that is unexpected emails from my editor, requests for interviews or visits, fan mail, or sometimes I just distract myself with a bright and shiny new idea. Then all bets for the day are off!

9. Is there any specific moment/reason you write Middle Grade? It’s in the middle of Young Adult and Children’s literature, as well as a genre that is generally underrated. Does it bother you if/ when people say literature written for younger people is “invalid” or shouldn’t be taken as seriously as the adult genre?

I think middle grade is just a good fit for my natural author’s voice. That said, I’d never close the door to writing for another age group - if the right story idea presented itself in another genre or for another age, I’d love to answer! And yes, it does bother me when children’s literature is relegated to a lower status, as if it’s easier to write or requires less skill. I think in fact, that the younger the reader, the more complicated the skill set. A great picture book does more in 300 words than many other authors can accomplish in 100,000.

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