Altruistic – definition: unselfishly concerned for or devoted to the welfare of others.
Welcome Janet McDermott-Brown, a children’s author. Today’s word fits in well with her favorite character, Midnight. Read on to find him.
a) What do you enjoy most about writing?
I enjoy creating another world and immersing myself in it. I also love the colours that are woven by words and description within a story. Somewhere to escape to, somewhere that is exactly as you wish it to be.
b) What age did you start writing stories/poems?
I believe I started to hold an interest in story/poetry writing whilst at senior school. I am also a songwriter and I began to write lyrics first and had a notebook that I carried around from about 14 years old.
c) Has your genre changed or stayed the same?
My first attempt at a novel was a vampire story, but I didn’t get to finish it. Then I tried a children’s story for the first time, based in London during the Great Fire of London, but didn’t finish that either (yet)! Finally, I fell upon a story I could see through to the end. My children’s fantasy/adventure book ‘The Picture House’.
d) What genre are you currently reading?
I actually read a lot of children’s novels, fantasy adventures and supernatural based stories are among my favourites. If reading adult books, I like historical novels, supernatural and some horror with vampires and werewolves.
e) Do you read for pleasure or research or both?
I read for pleasure, research and inspiration. I have always loved books, from being a very young child. I also collect books, as well as reading them.
f) Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?
My friends and family are all very encouraging. My Mum is probably the longest and best person to have helped me, especially all the reading/editing she has done for me.
g) Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
My favourite character is Midnight from ‘The Picture House’. He is a black cat, who can talk. He lives in the Picture House and becomes a very useful friend to one of the main characters, Lilly. He is a very cheeky, knowledgeable and charming cat. He is based entirely on my own cat Jesse – if only he could talk!
h) Where is your favorite writing space?
I actually like to write in my bedroom. It’s the quietest room in the house. My sanctuary. I write long hand first in my notebook then type it up into my computer in the study.
i) Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants writer?
I do use a spidergram, I find them useful for ideas. I then write a guide to all the chapters before I start. The story will quite often change and evolve, but the main thread of the story will remain true to my plan.
j) What inspires your ideas/stories?
Inspiration can come from anywhere. If my mind is open it can come from spoken words, places, feelings, people, objects, books, films. Anywhere at all, something just has to catch my imagination.
k) Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one?
I have done some creative writing courses, but do not belong to a writers group. It is a bit more difficult when writing children’s stories to find a group to join.
l) Do you have a book published? If so, what is it called & where can readers purchase it?
I have published ‘The Picture House’ on Amazon Kindle http://tinyurl.com/ka39rbo
‘A pale-faced dark haired boy, known as Moth had an extraordinary talent. And on one particular day that talent might just save his life…’ Moth is trapped in his own nightmare world of monsters and zombies. His three closest friends are in a race against time to find his memory shards that are scattered throughout his incredible imagination. Follow their adventures as they endeavour to save Moth from the grubby grips of Gritt and his malevolent master, Sinister.
m) If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why?
Frances Hodgson Burnett. She wrote my favourite book of all time, ‘The Secret Garden’. I love that story and would want to ask her how she thought up the story and what inspired her.
Please welcome Jennifer Eifrig – a fantasy author with an eclectic mixture of inspirational resources hence the word link for today – Paradigm (pair-uh-dyme) Definition- 1) an example to showing how something is to be done : model : pattern: 2) a theoretical framework in a discipline of science within which theories, laws and experiments are formulated.
a) Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
I’m very fond of all my characters, even (sometimes especially) the villains and the minor characters. Every one of them started from a real individual in mind, but grew beyond that person to become unique in his/her own right. I have to “become” each character in order to write him/her consistently and effectively.
Isadora is an inspiring heroine, in that she’s remarkably human. I love Max because of his suave snarkiness – when he’s got his game on; when he doesn’t, he’s also appealing in his vulnerability. Seth is terrific fun to write; I get to imagine being completely amoral and selfish. The ghost was really hard to write because I’m not normally a sociopathic homicidal maniac. Roger is a darling, and the ushabti are just terrific fun. They’re probably my favorite to write.
b) Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?
Well, right now I’m doing strictly urban fantasy, because I need to finish the series. However, I’m tossing around some ideas for a steampunk story, and I may try some romance.
c) What do you enjoy most about writing?
Believe it or not, I like the camaraderie. I participate in a weekly writers’ group and it’s the highlight of my week, usually. I also love my publisher’s author community. We’re separated by hundreds of miles and an ocean or two, but we’re in daily contact and share ideas, tips, and stories. Of course, all this fun can be a huge distraction from the grunt work of knocking out a 100,000+ pp novel, so I have to be careful not to forget to write!
d) Have you got a favorite place to write?
I usually work in two places: my tiny “office” (really a drop-leaf desk) in the dining room, and in bed. Frankly, I think I do my best creative writing in bed, and my best grant writing at my desk. If I’m doing creative work (which does include some grant writing!) I need absolute quiet. I can’t have anybody else in the room. It’s unnerving and distracting.
e) Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?
I wish I could say I have a really thorough chapter-by-chapter outline, but I don’t. However, I do know exactly where the story is going. I usually write in my head in large chunks either as I lie down at night or before I get up in the morning. I tell myself the story, and then it’s a matter of actually transcribing into text. I still discover things as I go along, however, and I really enjoy those moments when plot elements just fall magically into place and I realize, oh, that’s why I did such-and-such that way.
f) What inspires your stories?
Right now, Egyptian mythology is the glue holding my stories together. I’ve been fascinated with Egyptology since second or third grade. However, because I love to see cross-cultural patterns, I’ve interrelated many belief systems into my fictional universe, and created what one of my critique partners called a MagicalTheory of Everything. I’m even going to include theoretical physics in the third novel – things like dark matter and dark energy and the Higgs-Boson. To me, science, mythology, literature, history, and religion are all related aspects of one Big Truth. As one of my protagonists says, those of us who believe in Jesus have a big chunk of the puzzle figured out, but we’re all still looking for all of the pieces.
g) What are you currently reading?
Right now I’m devouring A Discovery of Witches. It’s a giant geek fest of a book, and it’s reassuring to know that people can still write long novels and other people still read them. I’ve also been filling up on steampunk romance, for fun and because I hope to write some soon. In the non-fiction vein, I’m working my way through Feast of the Dead: New England’s Vampires and The Bible: A Bibliography. I’ll read anything to do with ethnography and archaeology as well.
h) Do you have any odd habits or childhood stories?
Odd habits? Well, I suppose we all have them, but one weird thing is that I don’t need to look far for inspiration about magic in everyday life. I have this weird problem in that certain kinds of technology just freak out and refuse to work around me. Also, things on store shelves will just leap off when I walk past them. It’s really embarrassing. I can also go invisible when I’m in a restaurant or waiting in line. The waiters literally don’t see me. My husband won’t let me order the drinks in a bar, because we’d be waiting forever.
i) Do you have any pets?
I have one elderly house rabbit, and my kids have a guinea pig and two frogs. We want a dog, but we have to wait until the rabbit passes. We can’t have cats because my husband is allergic.
j) Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one?
I’ve belonged to a writing group since 2009, and I give the group complete credit for enabling me to finish and publish my novel. I probably would never have done it without them. We meet almost weekly, and we’ll critique chapters, synopses, and queries. We’re completely and occasionally painfully honest, but if you can make it past your ego you’ll end up with a better novel. Our members have come and gone, but we’ve completed at least five novels that I’m aware of, and published two.
k) What age did you start writing stories/poems?
I think I’ve always written in my head, but I didn’t write novels until high school. There, I wrote stories by hand that featured my friends as characters. It was a geeky thing to do, but I was a minor celebrity at the lunch table. People couldn’t wait for the next installment. After that, I didn’t write creatively for a long, long time, although I write grants, reports, letters, and web copy for a living. I started thinking about my novels in 2004, but as I said, I didn’t get serious about it until 2009.
l) Do you have a book published? If so what is it called & where can readers purchase it?
I do! (proud grin) It’s called Discovering Ren, and was released for Kindle in December 2012 by Cogwheel Press. I’m currently waiting for the paperback edition with bated breath. You can purchase it on Amazon.
m) If you could meet one favorite author who would it be and why?
n) If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be?
Again, so hard to answer because I’ve really not been to a lot of places. There’s a little village in the Swiss Alps that I visited a while back, and I’ve always said that if I were faced with something unspeakable, such as the loss of my entire family, I’d move there to get away. I’d love to see Egypt, and I should go to the UK to see all the places I learned about in college. Mostly, though, I just want to be wherever my husband and kids are.
o) What’s your favorite movie of all time?
Ha! Good question. I think Casablanca is a Perfect Film, so maybe that one. However, I love the Brendan Frasier/Rachel Weisz The Mummy, and I’ll watch Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day whenever it’s on. By the way, Joss Whedon’s The Avengers is the best superhero movie ever made.
p) Where can readers find you and your blog?
I’m available at www.jennifereifrigauthor.com. You can also find me on Goodreads, Amazon Author Central, FB (facebook.com/JenniferEifrigAuthor) and Twitter @ eifrigjen. I love, love, love hearing from other authors & readers, so please contact me!
q) Do you have plans or ideas for your next book?
Sure do! I’m currently 107,000 words into the sequel for Discovering Ren, and I’m guessing the first draft will top out at 120,000, so I’m almost there. In this book, the husband of my last protagonist is the main character and POV, but there are lots of other voices, including that of the villain. He’s a homicidal sociopathic ghost.
r) Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?
Without a doubt, my husband. He’s the best. He’s never said, “You’re crazy.” Instead, he gives me ideas, and he’s the best reader/critic there is. All I have to do is watch him read a draft, and I can tell from his facial expressions whether something works. He’s absolutely brilliant and has a revoltingly accurate memory for details. Once he hauled me out of the shower to ask if I’d researched a particular bottle of wine that a character was drinking, to be sure it matched the description I gave.
What a fun interview, full of surprises and intriguing insights. Thank you Jennifer.