Hi Jenna. Thank you for doing this interview. I would like to welcome you to the Romance at Heart Interview and Author Grilling session. *bg* We are interested to find out as much about you as we possibly can, so lets get started…
– Please tell us about your latest book.
Black Hole: A Novel, was written on a dare. My friend Gwen bet me I could not give her two pages about a woman in an elevator. I did. I gave them to her, she read them and handed them back and asked, “Then what?”
Four hundred pages, and a year later (2008), it was done. I passed it around to friends, who insisted I do “something” with it. After getting a ton of negativity about finding a publisher, and how hard it was to even get it read by an editor, I decided to go another route and self publish. Now it’s on createspace.com and I finally, this year, converted it to Kindle format. I have given copies away and sold a few. So far, even strangers who have read it enjoyed it.
The odd part is that after I wrote the book, things in it actually happened to me: the main character is left to raise two sons alone (I divorced in 2008 and have residential custody of my boys), the main character goes to Vegas (I had never been there and a trade show for work came up in 2008), and other things I cannot mention without ruining the plot!
The book was very cathartic for me in many ways. Admittedly, some of the emotions in it are drawn directly from me at the time. It was also a distraction and I committed to it fully. Although in retrospect I would say it sucked ME in.
– What can we expect from you in the future?
I have two books in the works now. The second one is a sequel to my first and I’m having to research milking sheep for it.
The third one is completely different. Friends who have seen parts of it have said it is like another person wrote it.
– How may readers contact you?
Email is the best way. JPPeranteau@gmail.com, I am also on Twitter as VTALUNA.
– Why did you decide to write romance novels?
It was never a conscious decision. I started writing and the story seemed to generate itself.
– What about your family, do they know not to bother you when you are writing – or are there constant interruptions?
I try to write when my kids are in bed, with their grandparents or their dad. Sometimes, though, the muses insist I get something down RIGHT THEN! I use a Dictaphone in the car!
– What do you do to relax and recharge your batteries?
Sleep. I think I could sleep a week. I also spend time with my husband of 3 years, who lets me be me.
– What truly motivates you in general? In your writing?
Feedback. Tangibles. New reviews on Amazon!
What I do on the corporate side (marketing) gives me both statistical feedback and tangibles (designed ads). As for writing, frankly I love writing dialog! I listen to conversations in restaurants, airports, anywhere public.
– Where do your ideas come from?
Experiences I have had, or would like to have. Or experiences I hope I NEVER have. Experiences of friends or family. Dreams.
– Do you feel humor is important in women’s fiction and why?
It releases a ton of tension and everyone reading can relate to some form of it. It’s also really good physically for you to laugh! I have one friend who is one of the happiest people I know. She’s rubbing off on me, thank God. I always say that if I did not have a sense of humor, I would be dead by now.
– What kind of research do you do?
I do a ton of research on the internet. What was very cool was writing about The Pinball Hall of Fame without having been there. Then, before I self published, I had the chance to go. I was surprised to find out that I was eerily accurate except for smells. Actually being there allowed me to add that sense in a great way.
– Please tell us about yourself (family, hobbies, education, etc.)
I was born in Massachusetts and I have moved 40 times if you include moves from college. I’ve lived in ten states, gone to three elementary schools, two middle schools, two high schools and three colleges. I am the youngest of four and my siblings call me the drama queen. Sometimes I’m nine years old with my kids (boys 15 and 12). But I’m a grown up when I pay bills and go to work. My mom and I are very alike in an oddly winsome way. Hobbies? Writing. With a full time job and two boys, that’s all I can handle!
– Fill in the blank favorites –
Dessert – Tirimisu. My mom and I spent 14 days in Italy trying to find the best one. I was sick of it for a month after that. Not anymore!
City – Portland, Maine: I lived in Maine for awhile and it feels familiar and the most like home. I also lived near DC and having the ability to explore that city every weekend was a great experience.
Season – Season’s a toughie. Fall: in New England. Winter: somewhere with no snow, except Christmas Day. Summer: NOT anywhere humid!
– What are some of your favorite things to do?
I have been riding horses since I was nine. Dressage. I am trying to incorporate that into book #3. Horses have made me cry (in a good way) for as long as I can remember. I never seem to find the time to do it more. I adore traveling and finding odd places in big cities. The Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas is one.
– Where do you see yourself in five years?
Frankly writing in some form for a living. The unknown being what form?
– How long have you been writing – have you always wanted to be a writer?
I started in high school with teenage poetry full of angst. I got up the guts to show one to my English Lit teacher my senior year. She liked it and encouraged me. I knew by wanted to write for a living, but decided to go the corporate route and into marketing and PR.
The creativity was not there (too stale and conservative). Writing a novel’s opened up my creativity in a new way.
– How many books have you written, how many have been published?Finished one. Working on two more. Yep. Simultaneously.
– After you’ve written your book and it’s been published, do you ever buy it and/or read it?
I didn’t open it for the longest time after it was “finished.” When I did, I read parts and thought, “Wow, I wrote this!!” It was a bit of a defining moment!
– Which comes first, the story, the characters or the setting?
My first finished book was constructed oddly. I wrote the beginning and the end and then filled in the rest. The main character was a given: she and her name appeared fast. The other characters: One is partially someone I know who asked to be in it. All the rest are out of my head.
– Are you in control of your characters or do they control you?
At one point, one of the main characters in my first book insisted upon going “one way” when I wanted her to go another. I got really frustrated with her and thought “Fine!” So I didn’t write for a week. When I returned to it, she went my way!
– Have you experienced writer’s block—> If so, how did you work through it? It’s happening now. But I tend to write in spurts: suddenly have something in my head that needs out. I have never been a “I will write for an hour a day” writer. To me that’s forced creativity: a disaster and an oxymoron. I am watching YouTube videos now about writer’s block and hoping I will snap out of it. I’ve had other issues get in the way lately that I cannot control, and I’m waiting that out.
– If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?
My day job is VP of Marketing and I work from home. (I know, very lucky!). Until my books pay enough, it will be the corporate world for me.
– Are there any words of encouragement for unpublished writers?
Just keep writing. Keep trying. It only takes one person to love it and suddenly a new door opens.