I’d like to give a big welcome to JENNIFER SLATTERY to my blog. Jennifer, thank you for joining me today.
rem: Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
JENNIFER: I spent my early childhood in Renton, Washington (I believe), though I don’t have a whole lot of memories of that time, except I had a babysitter who gave me a ginormous candy cane one year. It was odd, though. She gave it to me but as far as I remember, didn’t give anything to my older sister, whom she also babysat.
I spent another chunk of my childhood in a small logging town called Oak Ridge, Oregon, located at the base of the Cascade Mountains. I have fond memories of fishing with my dad, picking blackberries, making dandelion soup with a dear friend named Bobby Joe. And yes, that was really her name, and yes, I really did try to eat the soup. Ick!
From there we moved to a dairy town in northern Washington. I have good and hard memories from then, but I’ve turned one question into a near novel, so I should probably move on to the next one. 😉
rem: Love answers like this! Tell us three things about yourself.
JENNIFER: I am addicted to peanut butter—I eat it by the spoonful, and coffee. I could forego a meal easily for an almond milk, vanilla latte, and in fact, when I have speaking engagements and signings, I’m known to live off lattes. (A lot of event coordinators buy their authors drinks from the café.) But then, I get tired and my blood sugar drops, and I start making mistakes. Once I ended up messing up a book I was autographing so badly, I had to purchase it. I gave it to my daughter. She now has a one-of-a-kind!
rem: I love peanutbutter, too—in fact, I have a ginormous spoonful first thing every morning, and by first thing, I mean before my coffee even! What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream? What’s your favorite cookie?
JENNIFER: I love any flavor of ice cream. Unfortunately, ice cream doesn’t love me—it makes me incredibly sick, so I’ve had to forego this wonderful treat. As for cookies, I love the flourless chocolate cookies at Starbucks, but I’ll take anything that’s gluten free and fresh!
rem: I’ve recently developed an affinity for raspberry sherbet! Which Muppet do you most resemble? Why?
JENNIFER: It’s been so long since I’ve watched the Muppets, I had to ask my Facebook friends for help on this one. My pastor said Elmo so I’m gonna go with that, him being my spiritual leader and all. He said because I’m adorable. I think he means oddly goofy, but I’ll go with the positive spin. 😉
rem: Elmo is adorable! Kids or pets? Names and ages?
JENNIFER: We travel too much for pets, but I do have a beautiful, sweet daughter that I simply adore. We are so incredibly different from one another, it’s comical. She’s an engineer who would love to sit and talk about string theory or how—okay, I don’t know enough physics to even tell you what she talks about. She’ll be in the middle of a conversation, telling me about something she just learned about or is thinking about, then halfway through, she’ll stop, look at me and say, “You don’t understand anything I just said, do you?” To which I laugh and reply, “Nope.” But we’re also very similar in other ways. For being so mathematically and scientifically minded, she’s actually incredibly creative. She’s an excellent writer, and her and her friend have been working on a comic book that is simply awesome. She’s also dabbled in fiction a bit but she won’t let me read any of it. L
rem: She has a high bar for her fiction, jus’ sayin’ Superman or Batman?
JENNIFER: Batman because my daughter loved him for a while so he reminds me of her. J
rem: Me too, it’s a robin thing… hee hee What do you most value in a friend? What quality do you most admire in a man or woman?
JENNIFER: I love loyal friends and those who are open and honest with me. Those who will hold tight to our friendship, and if they’re upset with me or worried about something will come to me directly so we can work things out together. I also love friends that make me laugh. J As to what quality I most admire in a woman … I think I’d have to say perseverance.
rem: Well, girlfriend, let’s have coffee (and peanutbutter) ‘cause I can make you laugh! When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?
JENNIFER: Melodrama is a big one. That and too much narrative, especially showing. I don’t mind a bit of showing now and then, but my mind tends to tune out after a paragraph or so.
rem: Tension and conflict is one thing (kinda gotta have that, right?) but I agree, too much of a good thing ruins a good story. Which book have you read the most in your lifetime?
JENNIFER: The Bible by far. It’s my treasure. I read it every morning, and it never fails to comfort, strengthen, encourage, or challenge me.
rem: Agree 100%. Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read?
JENNIFER: I have so many but I’ve really enjoyed novels by Varina Denman. I love her voice and the small town settings she creates. I also love Shannon Taylor Vannatter—she’s got snappy dialogue. Kristen Heitzmann is great, too. I loved A Rush of Wings!
rem: Kristen is one of my fav’s, too. I got to meet last year at the Weekend With the Writers Conference, held here in Greenville! Tell us a little about your writing journey.
JENNIFER: I’ve always written as a hobby, then as I began to serve in ministry, I started writing church related pieces. I wrote a parents newsletter for Community Baptist’s children’s program, then wrote a drama for an Easter outreach event and children’s curriculum for another outreach event—a weekend program for kids in our community. One day, our children’s director asked me to write a story on Jonah for one of our upcoming kids’ programs. I agreed to do so, and as I was brainstorming one afternoon, I had an a-ha moment, “Hey, I like this.” But it was more than an “I like this.” It was a realization of how much joy I received from brainstorming, and I knew I wanted to do that more.
Then between 2008 and 2009, I sensed a definite call to write full time. I fought God on this one. My past isn’t pretty—I went through a period of homelessness as a teenager—and I was terrified if my name were to get out, through writing, people would begin to connect the new me, the suburban housewife and mom, with the old me, the self-destructing teenager. It took serving in urban ministry and seeing how hurting teenagers needed to hear my story to know there was hope for me to finally surrender to God’s call. The road since hasn’t been easy but it’s been good. And hope-filled.
rem: Isn’t that so true in any area of ministry? Father uses our past to touch others who struggle in the same way. What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?
JENNIFER : I largely write at in my office and like to do my free-writing first thing when my creativity is fresh. The afternoons I take care of all the other things we writers must tackle like critiquing other people’s work (who also critique mine. It’s a partnership.) blogging, connecting with bookstore managers, marketing, working on keynotes, that sort of thing.
rem: What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?
JENNIFER: Sometimes it can be hard to know precisely what direction God is asking me to go. I receive so many opportunities, great opportunities, to serve Him, but I can’t do it all. I also receive a great number of requests from people wanting me to read their chapters or their papers or their children’s papers, or their blog posts, or to review their books or help them with something else writing related. And it can be hard because my heart so wants to help them all, but if I’m not careful, I end up getting myself over-committed and am useless to everyone, my family most of all. But it can be hard because people don’t always understand when you tell them you can’t do something, and sometimes they get hurt and angry. So I struggle with setting boundaries while communicating that I find the person and their goals or project valuable.
rem: You got mine, though, right? JUST KIDDING! Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?
JENNIFER: It depends on whose work I’m editing. J I’m a content editor with Firefly, a Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas’ imprint. In that capacity, I love coming alongside other authors and helping them grow in their craft and create the strongest novel possible. As a writer, I love the first draft stage, when I can lose myself in an imaginary world.
rem: I can imagine what a difference that makes! What do you enjoy most about being a writer?
JENNIFER: The opportunities it’s provided, usually through speaking engagements, to share the hope of Christ and the freedom He offers.
rem: And that’s what it’s all about, right there. What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
JENNIFER: I think the hardest part is the waiting. Seems we writers are always waiting. And the uncertainty of not knowing when or if that next contract will come. And in the waiting, to keep your eyes on Christ and serving Him in each moment. The easiest and most fun is connecting with other writers for brainstorming sessions!
rem: I love the connections and networking I’ve discovered and developed in the last year and a half! What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?
JENNIFER: Take your thoughts captive and refuse to engage in negative thinking. Negative thinking is a waste of time, and it steals a writer’s creativity. Persevere. This is an incredibly hard journey. Expect it to be hard, and to push through. And finally, find a strong support group of other writers who can encourage and lift you up when you’re tired or discouraged.
rem: TOTALLY agree about negative thinking! Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?
JENNIFER: Wow, that varies. From life stories others share with me, things I encounter while serving in ministries around the metro, and random brain explosions. J
rem: Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
JENNIFER: I think my current book is always my favorite. J
rem: Which character in the story is most like/least like you?
JENNIFER: In Breaking Free I think I have bits of Alice and Trent in me. I can be insecure, like Alice is, and for years I tried to present an image to the world that wasn’t really true. I acted like I had it all together and tried to hide my past—Alice tries to hide her present, but her motive is the same. And it’s rooted in insecurity. But I also spent a chunk of time in my teen years self-destructing, so I get Trent as well.
rem: Be-lieve me, I understand the insecurity! As authors we sometimes give our characters one or more of our personal traits. Have you ever taken on a trait of your character that you didn’t have before?
JENNIFER: I don’t think so.
rem: Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?
JENNIFER: Right now I’m working on a fun romance set in an “everyone-knows-your-name” type neighborhood in Austin, Texas. How about I share the blurb?
rem: Oh, yes, please!
“Will the path Paige Cordell forges to leave Austin, Texas behind for good be the very one to make her stay?
Paige Cordell closed her wounded heart to her life in Texas to pursue her dream of becoming a nationally known journalist. Just as hard work and perseverance are starting to pay off, she’s forced back to Austin—right next door to Bryce Gilbertson’s grandmother and in proximity to the man she’s always hated. She plans to avoid him at all costs, until she needs him to reach the one goal that will allow her to leave Austin for good.
All his life, Bryce Gilbertson’s parents groomed him to join the family law firm until his frat boy behavior turned him into a college dropout. Now matured, he purchased a murder mystery dinner theater, which he plans to transform into a Wild West theme, an action is parents find irresponsible. He plans to prove them wrong, and he needs Paige’s help to do so.
rem: And I’m hooked! Now I gotta read this! What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?
JENNIFER: That they are deeply loved. Always. No matter what.
rem: Amen to that, Sister! Jennifer, thank you so much for chatting with me today.
Connect with Jennifer
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte
See scene location pictures for Breaking Free on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jenslatte/breaking-free/
Jennifer Slattery, Chat Thursday, Author Interview, When Dawn Breaks, Beyond I Do, Intertwined