Today I welcome writer Jennifer M. Steele onto my blog, to do an author interview. Check out her answers to my questions.
Big thanks to Jennifer for being today’s guest poster, please make sure to check out her links and details at the end of this post.
Q01 – When did you realise you wanted to be a writer?
I think it was somewhere between my late twenties and early thirties. I had just graduated when I read a book series that re-ignited my passion for writing.
What was supposed to cure my disappointment with the ending of said series, quickly turned into a project of epic length.
I became obsessed and that was when it struck me that writing is what I want to do more than anything else, where I can thrive. Without realising, I had made writing a second full-time job, but without the money, of course.
It was fanfiction, but I didn’t care. I just follow my heart and my ideas. But I knew very early in this process that if I ever had an idea for a “real” book, I would pursue it.
That idea came about two years ago and since then I’m working on my debut fantasy series.
Q02 – How did your family react when you told them you wanted to be a writer?
Most people I told about my writing were excited. You can’t know me and not notice how passionate I am about this and so they took me seriously. Or at least I think they did, perhaps they just thought that I’m crazy—haha.
Some even promised to read my book when it’s published, but I think that many people only say these kinds of things as reassurance or due to politeness.
My last partner supported me a lot over the years. He listened to my struggles and complaints and we discussed plot holes and war strategies as in my projects there’s always some epic fighting going on.
I think he was a bit jealous, though; I’m that kind of writer who puts her passion before everything else. I’m like a professor married to science.
But I also remember a friend who disapproved of my passion. To her, writing was about money and fame and she made it clear that I was wasting my time by spending years on a project I could only publish on a fanfiction archive.
I told her that I disapproved of her attitude. I sometimes wonder what I would do if I would meet her again if I would tell her that I’m actually working on a book series. Probably not.
Q03 – Do you use any specific writing software for drafting your manuscript?
No, I don’t. I’ve been working with Open Office for years. For my fantasy series, I purchased Word because it has better options for grammar and spell checking.
I have a folder system for projects and additional notes for outline, worldbuilding etc. which works well for me. I tried Scrivener once, but I had no patience to work myself through the manual. Never change a running system.
Q04 – Do you have a writing routine?
If writing whenever I can counts, then yes. I usually work on my projects for one or two hours before work, one hour during lunch break and in the evenings.
On weekends or holidays, I push all other activities like sports, grocery shopping or appointments in the early morning or late afternoon so that I can write for long stretches of time undisturbed. It’s a routine that also works well during NaNoWriMo.
Q05 – What is the hardest part of the writing process for you?
Writing the first few chapters of a new project and line editing. It takes me a while to get familiar with a new project, the world and the characters.
The first chapters feel awfully awkward and the quality is abysmal. You need resilience and a gag and a dungeon four your inner critic with to get past that.
As to editing … it has its ups and downs. On the downside is reducing word count and rephrasing. Line editing requires a different kind of focus than writing.
Whereas writing (and reading) suck me into a story, editing demands alertness that I can only maintain by taking small breaks every few paragraphs, which makes the process tedious and exhausting.
But hey, in the end, you get rewarded with a better version of your story so it’s worth the pain.
Q06 – From your writing, who is your all-time favourite character and why?
If I only count my own characters, I’d go for the protagonist of my debut series, Loken. He’s the head of a band of thieves and assassins and he has a very dark past.
He is so much anti-hero that he could pass as the villain, which provides so many options where he might end up.
Loken is permanently torn between revenge and redemption, darkness and altruism, and the more I write from his POV the more layers of his conflicted personality I uncover. This is immensely exciting.
Q07 – Are there any genres you would never write?
I wouldn’t trust myself with romance. It takes my characters aeons to realise that they’re in love or that another character has feelings for them.
They meander around and are quite awkward about the whole thing. You can do that when you’re writing a multiple book series, but not with a novel.
Also, I’m not a particularly romantic person. That’s why I leave romance to the subplots.
Q08 – What fun things do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Is this a serious question?
When you’re so obsessed with writing that you treat as a second full-time job, there’s not much time left for other activities.
But I’m squeezing them in whenever I can. Besides scheduled exercise (running, gym, yoga), I like reading, doing puzzles, baking and going for walks in the cold season.
On the weekends, I sometimes watch a film for dinner. Oh, and I obsess a lot about anti-heroes and my cats.
Q09 – If you had to choose one of your characters to be your avatar in a fighting game, who would you pick?
Still my assassin. He’s a total badass. He fights like a demon god come to earth. It would be cool to see that in motion.
Q10 – What was the last book you read?
The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks. This is the third book of the Lightbringer series, an epic fantasy series that inspired me to write The Shadow of Elariel.
It has terrific worldbuilding and an extreme well thought out magic system based on optics and the metaphysical meaning of colours. Much in these books is about perception and they are full of unexpected twists and turns.
I’m currently re-reading the books because the final book just came out. You can tell from all the sticky notes in the books how much I love this series
Q11 – Are there any authors you’d love to meet in person?
A couple of, yes. Mostly authors of fantasy series I devoured over the past years and which sparked the ideas for my own series—like Brandon Sanderson, Brent Weeks or George R.R. Martin.
I would like to discuss worldbuilding, magic systems and strategies for crushing your readers’ souls. But I probably would be too intimidated to get any words out of my mouth.
Q12 – What’s the best piece of advice you could give new writers?
Don’t confuse yourself by reading too many books on writing advice. Write what you would love to read.
Don’t be too critical with your first draft and try to focus on getting the ideas on page. You can add the prose during the edits.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Born in the ’80s in the former capital of Germany, Jennifer M. Steele grew up with the stories of Astrid Lindgren, Philip Pullman and J.R.R. Tolkien. Blessed with a creative mind, she spent most of her time in fictional worlds.
When Jennifer grew older, she wrote her stories down, but she became only ambitious about it in her mid-twenties when she started wasting her talent by obsessively writing fanfics.
Since her PhD in astrophysics, Jennifer earns her living as a programmer because she is also a nerd.
In 2017, Jennifer started working on her debut—an epic fantasy series set in an ancient Mediterranean world. She’s currently finishing the final edits on the first book, The Shadow of Elariel. Then she will boldly go where she hasn’t gone before to find her series a home.
Besides being obsessed with writing, Jennifer loves early morning runs, reading, autumn walks, tea, action movies and heavy metal. She doesn’t own a mobile. Don’t ask her about her favourite books, anti-heroes or climate change unless you want her to ramble on for hours.
Jennifer lives with her two feline writing buddies she named after two of her characters.
The Shadow of Elariel
Eighteen years after Emperor Damian Callidus killed his abominable brother Darien and defeated his army of shadows, the city of Elariel is a dangerous place for shadow dancers.
Hunted by the Emperor’s private army, the Shadowguard, all wielders of this illicit gift who refuse to bend the knee are sentenced to death.
Loken, a powerful shadow dancer and war veteran, is one of the few who dare to oppose the Emperor. Together with his gang of thieves and assassins, he protects those suffering under Damian’s rule.
When Loken murders a member of the Imperial Council, he accidentally kicks off a conspiracy that hampers his plan for revenge. Ensnaring young Rebekkah, a noble runaway, into his schemes promises salvation, never knowing her true identity.
Loken must be careful, for he has his own secret to keep—a secret that is even darker than the eternal darkness that eventually will end all existence …
This post was written by a guest writer. Please check out their details above.