Today it’s my pleasure to have with me J. F. Jenkins, Author of The Dragon Saga, Legend of The Oceina Dragon. Love the title and the book cover, and I’ll be downloading a sample later today.
LP: Good morning, J.F., tell us a little about your self. Where you live now, and where you grew up?
JFJ: I live in Minnesota, and I always have. I grew up just North of the Minneapolis area, and now I live a little bit South of it, so I’ve always been close to the city. Growing up I lived in a village, and now I live in a typical suburb and am currently about a five minute drive from the Mall of America. I’ve always been kind of a city girl.
LP: Do you feel that the environment you were raised in has any effect on your choice of genre?
JFJ: Definitely! I tend to put my characters in settings I’m familiar with. Most of the time, I give a vague area of where they’re located and let the reader kind of fill in the gap with their imagination as to where the city/town is located. Sometimes I make up my own cities.
LP: I love using my imagination and filling in gaps. Makes things so much more enjoyable. When and why did you begin writing?
JFJ: I started writing because I got bored one day. I was being a dork with a couple of friends and we were talking about ‘what if’s about one of our favorite fandoms on TV. Eventually we wrote up a story about it and passed it along for kicks and giggles, and it kind of exploded as a past time from there.
LP: What inspired your first book?
JFJ: The first actual book I wrote was inspired mostly from teenage angst. I also had a dream about a boy who could make people explode from using his words, and I rolled with it and produced a novel. My first novel that I’ve published was also inspired by a dream. In it a girl was taken from home and given to be fed to a dragon as part of a sacrifice. When the dragon got there, it changed into a young man who rescued her and took her home. From there I started to fill in the gaps. Most of the time my stories come from dreams.
LP: That is so cool. I love using dreams with my own work. How do you come up with your titles?
JFJ: The title is always the last thing I do. While I’m writing on my book, I’ll take a concept or a name, and give my book a code title. For example, my book I just published is known as “DragonsO” in my writing folder. I have another series I’m working on that is simply referred to as “V”. I take a one or two on the end depending on which number of book I’m working on. I always have a hard time coming up with a title, and usually by the end is when I have a more solid theme to work with.
LP: Is there a specific message in your novels that you’d like the reader to grasp?
JFJ: I write a lot of Young Adult fiction. Most of what I want to give my readers is a different perspective on relationships. My characters all come from different walks of life and with different moral values, and I want to try and be as realistic as possible with how these different avenues affect everything in life.
LP: How much of your book is realistic or based on real life issues?
JFJ: A lot of my character interactions are based on real issues. From that first dating spark, to the couple who’s been together for years, to the boy/girl who couldn’t get a date to save their life. I also touch on home life situations. There are characters who have normal homes, and others who come from a more unconventional sort of setting. Even though most of my stories have a science fiction or fantasy twist to them, I still bring up the typical elements of what it’s like to grow up. My characters are just also thrown into an interesting situation.
LP: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
JFJ: When I wanted to do it all of the time, and I couldn stop thinking about it. This was at a young age, and even though I wasn’t published, I just couldn’t stop doing it. It was all I wanted to do.
LP: I think there are many of us that consider that our perfect dream life. Do you have a specific writing style?
JFJ: Yes, my writing voice is very distinct I think. I can’t describe it, but I know it’s not like a lot of other author’s out there. This used to bother me, but I’ve come to terms with it now. It’s part of my own personal flair and I’ve learned how to embrace it and grow with it.
LP: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
JFJ: Stephen King, hands down. I consider him my writer soulmate. I went to a Q&A and listened to him talk about how he writes, and all I could do was nod my head and think: Yup, that’s me. We have a similar way of creating, and this wasn’t something I have purposefully tried to emulate. It was something I discovered after the fact. The thing I like most about King though is how he maintains his own unique voice, is not afraid to break the rules, and how he creates his characters. It’s inspiring for me to know that I can have my own voice and have good characters even though they are in the most ridiculous situations.
LP: What book are you reading now?
JFJ: I’m currently reading “The Alchemist” by Michael Scott. It’s a YA novel. After that I plan on reading Melissa Marr’s “Fragile Eternity”.
LP: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
JFJ: They’re new to me, but probably not new to anyone else. I have so many different authors I read, I don’t think I could name all of the ones who keep me intrigued.
LP: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your first book?
JFJ: Probably. I’m never completely satisfied with anything I write. I always want to change or fix something. For example, I read a reader review on my book and they pointed out a few flaws and all I could do was go: oh, yeah, I know what you’re saying. I feel the same way. Unfortunately, I’d have to expand a lot, and I had a word count cut off, so I had to choose and make some tough decisions. But that’s what the sequel is for right? To go expand off of the previous novel.
LP: Are you currently working on a new book, and if so, can you share some of it with us?’
JFJ: I’m always working on a new book. I’m actually working on sequel to a science fiction series. It’s a little sarcastic and it pokes fun on at the super hero genre – complete with ridiculous super hero names. I can’t share much about the new one, but I can give you a brief section from the first book (still unpublished, I should add).
LP: I’ll look forward to that. What is the most challenging part of writing your current work in progress?
JFJ: Staying motivated. I get easily distracted, and I always tend to have about five other projects I would rather be writing. Then of course when I write on those, I get the itch to go back, and it’s a vicious cycle. It’s especially hard when I’m in the ‘set up’ portion of the novel – aka, the boring stuff.
LP: Who are your favorite authors and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
JFJ: Stephen King, and I think I covered this pretty well in a previous question.
LP: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
JFJ: No, not yet, but maybe some day!
LP: Do you design your own covers?
JFJ: I generally have a basic idea of what I want my cover to look like, and then I pass that on to my cover artist. The artist for my last book is the amazing Elaina Lee, who dealt quite nicely with me. I’m picky too, so if I don’t like it, I’m not afraid to speak up about it. I like simple designs the best. Too much going on, and it’s distracting to the eye.
LP: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
JFJ: Continuing to do it so I can finish, and then being confident enough in myself to try and submit it for publication. My current release was picked up by an independent press, and I was incredibly nervous during the waiting period of the process. It’s easy to have self doubt in this industry.
LP: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
JFJ: This past book I learned a lot about my own personal faith,as well as my own self confidence. The publication process was definitely an eye opener for me. Any time I finish a book, I always have a small boost because it’s a wonderful accomplishment.
LP: Do you have any advice for other writers?
JFJ: Just keep writing. Don’t stop for anything. Love what you do.
LP: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
JFJ: Thank you for taking the time to read my work. I can promise you there is a lot more where that came from. I’m excited to share it.
LP: Thank you, J.F., for taking the time to share with our friends and readers today. If you’d like to learn more about J. F. you can visit the links below. Ready to download a sample, or better yet, Buy Now?
Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y227X96EoUY