I first met Jennifer at the Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, Inc. (OWFI) conference in Oklahoma City. High energy and excitement, she was a boon to my veteran (code for older person) spirit. Her writing is reminiscent of another time and place providing the reader with a journey through time. I asked Jennifer a few questions to help you get to know her and her work.
How would you describe Quail Crossings to someone who has not read your work?
Quail Crossings is a story of an unlikely family coming together during the harsh reality of the Great Depression. Dovie Grant has just lost her husband and only child in a car accident, leaving her alone with her father on their farm, Quail Crossings. Since he’s getting older, he needs some help on the farm and hires an 18-year-old boy who’s caring for his three siblings. This does not make Dovie happy. She’s trying to deal with her grief and doesn’t want these children running around. It doesn’t help that there’s a 14-year-old girl who doesn’t want to be there either, so she gets into all kinds of trouble trying to get her brother fired. During Black Sunday, the worst dust storm this country has ever known, they must come together to find one of their own or risk losing her forever.
How would you describe your writing style?
I would describe my writing style as laid back and character driven. I never sit down expecting to write the next great American novel. I’m never going to string eloquent words together to impress you with my vocabulary and use of meter. I just want to tell you a great story, one that makes you love my characters and keep turning the pages, because you have to know what’s gonna happen next. I want you to laugh with them, cry with them and rejoice with them.
What are you reading now?
Right now I am reading Beauty Queens by Libba Bray which is making me snort laugh and A Matter of Trust by Sherrilyn Polf, who is an excellent author and a good friend of mine.
Who designs your covers?
The fantastic Linda Boulanger from TreasureLine Publishing designed the cover for Quail Crossings. But I am fortunate to have a talented sister, Brandy Walker, from Sister Sparrow Graphic Designs who will be doing my future covers. She’s already designed for three of my short stories, Thesis Revised, Emma’s Walk, and Footprints in the Snow, which you can get for free on www.smashwords.com. Brandy is so talented, I would recommend her even if she weren’t my sister. Her work speaks for itself.
Give us three “Good to Know” facts about you. Be creative. Tell us about your first job, the inspiration for your writing, any fun details that would enliven your page.
Good to Know Fact #1 – Every novel has a “muse” song. My stories don’t fully come alive until I find a song that sums it up for me. The minute I hear that song the book becomes a movie preview in my head, which tells me the tone and voice needed to make it a successful piece of work. Every night before I write, I close my eyes and listen to that song. I cannot begin until I know what the muse song is.
Good to Know Fact #2 – I am a trained snake/alligator wrangler. I’m no Crocodile Hunter, but with the correct tools I can remove a venomous snake and/or alligator from your house. This is not something I do often because as clumsy as I am, I’m pretty sure I’d end up on YouTube getting my hand bit off or taking a snake bite to the nose.
Good to Know Fact #3 – I am fascinated by cryptozoology, the study of and search for animals and especially legendary animals (example, Big Foot) usually in order to evaluate the possibility of their existence. Had I known such a thing existed in college I would’ve majored in it. Instead, I’m about 12 hours short of a Wildlife Biology degree, opting for a Bachelors in Applied Arts and Science in order to finish quickly before a move. As much as I love cryptozoology, I’m pretty sure I’d wet my pants and run screaming from the forest if I ever ran into a creature such as Big Foot.
Advice for other writers?
Get your butt in the chair. It’s as simple as that. You want to write, then you HAVE to write. You can’t talk about it, read about it, think about it… you have to do it. Even if you think it stinks, keep writing. Writing is like every other profession, the more you do, the better you’ll become.
What is your next novel project?
My next novel is a paranormal romance entitled, Winter Song. It actually won 1st place at the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation, Inc. contest in 2011 in contemporary romance. Should be out in the spring (fingers crossed).
One common piece of advice for writer’s is write what you know. Writers are all over the map on it. Where do you stand on this one?
As much as I agree you have to have some knowledge of what you’re writing, you can always research and learn it. I guess what I’m trying to say is you don’t have to have lived it to know it, if that makes sense. I didn’t grow up during the Great Depression. I have never known what it’s like to feel poor or hungry. But I wrote about it after interviewing people who did and hopefully, I did their experiences justice.
That being said, when it comes to emotion, if you’ve lived through that particular emotion, for example, grief, it’s a lot easier to write it. I think it makes for a stronger response from your reader.
So a little of both, I guess. But never let lack of “experience” stop you from getting in the chair and writing. If I only wrote what I “know” they wouldn’t be very interesting books.