It’s Monday morning, and that means we’re doing another author interview! I’m excited to have Jennifer Jensen, author of The Vice, here today.
Born and raised in a small town in Michigan, Jennifer married her high school sweetheart. She got a job, which she left college for, and over the course of a few years, she had two beautiful sons.
In December 2019, Jennifer found herself staring down the big 3-0. Having accomplished so much and at the same time, so little, she looked at the life she had made and knew something was missing.
When picking up a pen and putting it to paper, after an almost ten-year hiatus, she quickly fell back in love with the world of writing.
She made a pact with herself to do better with self-care and putting as much effort into her own happiness that she had put into the happiness of others. Doing so gave her space and energy to create and soon share, the characters that had only existed in her mind.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I first realized I wanted to be a writer when I was in elementary school. We had an assignment in class to write and illustrate a book. I was all for the illustration part as I have always loved to draw. But the writing became an even bigger calling for me.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
My schedule for writing is chaotically structured. My main day for writing is on Sunday mornings. I leave the house, dedicate 6 straight hours to working on my book in one form or another. I usually try to work on the writing itself or rewriting whenever I have time alone (which, with two kids and a full time job, isn’t often). If I am trying to meet a deadline, then I usually get up about an hour before my normal wake up time, and knock out an hours worth of work each morning before anyone else gets up.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
I get the ideas for my books from real life, television, and music. I get my information from google. For the idea’s, it kind of depends what mood I’m in when I am listening to music or watching TV. If I’m doing it just to unwind, my mind really isn’t receptive to creation. The information I look up is almost always from google, and then I travel down a rabbit hole of articles, videos, and really anything that can help me get the knowledge that I need to know on the subject.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I wrote my first book when I was in elementary school for a project in class. However, my first non school related book was written in junior high when I was thirteen.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I like spending time with my family when I am not writing and working. I have two sons, five and two, so they require a lot of my attention when I am with them.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
One of the most surprising things I learned when creating my book was that there are a lot of rules to writing. I struggled in my english classes all through school. I have always enjoyed essay questions and book reports, but when it came to the nitty gritty of writing, the comma’s, formatting, past/present tense, it wasn’t and still isn’t my thing. (I am very thankful for editors).
Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
The best advice I have for becoming a better writer is to have the best editor. And I don’t mean the best editor money can buy, or the best because they are well known. I mean, the best for you and your writing. I learned so much in my first few months of taking my writing seriously and it was all because of one woman. She took the time to not just fix the commas and misplaced words in a document, but she told me how I could improve my writing. She made suggestions and answered all of my questions. The best money I have ever spent was on her as my editor.
What do you think makes a good story?
A great story to me is something that makes you feel the emotion, even if you have never experienced that situation before. As a person, I love reading and watching things that made me cry, laugh, get angry—all with the person who is actually going through whatever it is.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
As a child what I wanted to be changed many times. The most predominant ones were lawyer and author. The main reason I gave up on the lawyer dream in high school was because my grades were always bad and I did not want to spend any extra time in a classroom setting than what I had too.
With being an author, I tried to go to school for journalism, but the school I got accepted too didn’t have anything related to writing/journalism. So my guidance counselor asked me what class I enjoyed at the time in school, and that is how I ended up going to school for graphic design (I dropped out of that two semesters later).
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Writing energizes me! For the most part anyway. The writing itself, being immersed in my books, is the greatest feeling. However, getting bogged down on rewrite after rewrite because something just doesn’t sound right, just a little exhausting.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I try to do both, but really, once I start writing, the book is out of my hands. It isn’t up to me, or the readers. It is up to my characters. I can’t write an ending that wouldn’t make sense for the character just because it’s what I or the readers want. I have a hard time reading books and watching shows/ movies where you know they did something because it’s what the fan base wanted. Now, there is nothing wrong with delivering what fans like, but you have to look at the character and let them write their own story. Because from as much time as I have spent with these characters, they are real to me.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
As of right now I am working on building a body of work that all connects. I have an entire series in mind. It started out as one book. Then I had an idea for a second. Now, I have three books almost complete and have decided a fourth one might be a great idea (not to mention the spin off possibilities, or different POV that could be done).
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
If I could tell my younger writing self one thing, it would be to not stop writing. I had been working on a book for years in high school/ college, and then one day I put it down and never picked it back up. I had finished the book, I had looked into self-publishing, but life got busy. I got married, had kids, had a full time job, and zero energy for any hobby—let alone writing which was more than a hobby to me. Now that I am back at it, I forgot how much I love it and how much I missed doing it.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
The best money I have spent as a writer is on my editor. Like I gushed about earlier, finding an editor like Marla did so much for my work I have no idea how people get through their writing without someone like her. I was incredibly lucky to have her recommended to me from someone I work with, and have her be the first person I contacted.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I have only a few unpublished books since I am just getting back into the swing of things, but only two of them I don’t plan on publishing. The rest are the upcoming books in my series. As for the ones I don’t plan on publishing, I do plan on going back through them after the series is finished and seeing if I can improve some of the stuff I already have written in them.
What does literary success look like to you?
Literary success to me is being able to reach people on an emotional level through my books. I want what I write to mean something. I want people to feel deep emotions when they read the content I write about. And then, not only that, but I want them to discuss it. I write about tough subject matter. Things that happen in our world every day, but aren’t a part of normal discussions. I just think that empathy is extremely important, and reading about what someone is going through can help someone understand it a little bit more without having been through it themselves.
Thank you so much for coming by! Here are your social media links and a link to buy your book!
I understand you have a goody for our readers?
Yes, here’s an excerpt from my book!
Great! I’m sure they’ll appreciate it!