It’s a new year, and today we’re celebrating with a stop on the Solomon’s Throne book tour, presented by Jitterbug PR. Please welcome to the table the lovely and talented Jennings Wright to tell us a little bit about her book!
SHR: Welcome, Jennings! Tell us a bit about yourself to start.
JW: I am a 47 year old wife, homeschool mom, business and nonprofit owner, and reluctantly transplanted Floridian. We currently live in NC, although we’re planning a move – to somewhere unknown as of yet! – in 2013. I have two great kids, both of whom are graduating (high school and college) in May, and my daughter is getting married in June, so life around here is a little crazy! My husband is also a writer, so we spend a lot of time emailing each other from other parts of the house as we are working.
SHR: Your home sounds like a lively place! It’s a wonder you have time to do anything! So, how long have you been writing?
JW: The general answer to that question is “always.” But my novel writing started in November, 2011, when I decided to do NaNoWriMo for the first time, and I haven’t stopped since!
SHR: Back to that hectic household…What is a typical day in your life like?
JW: Fortunately, my life is a lot less crazy than it used to be, since I’m down to one homeschool “student”, and he now drives. When I’m writing, I write about 3000-4000 words a day. Editing takes a lot of hours, and I’m usually editing something of my own or my husband’s at any given time. I blog a couple of times a week, spend an hour or so a day on marketing-type stuff for my books, and, of course, do “regular” things like grocery shop, cook, have lunch with a writer friend, go to the gym. I also like to watch “The Mentalist,” “Bones,” “NCIS,” and “Castle,” plus “Chopped.” But I try to record them so I can skip the commercials (when I remember!).
SHR: Moving away from the writing for a moment, I’d like to know more about you. Who is your favorite Author?
JW: My favorite authors of all time are CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien. But I typically read mysteries/thrillers, so I like Dick Francis, Martha Grimes, Kathy Reichs, Janet Evanovich and James Rollins. I’ve been discovering indie authors this year, too, and there’s some great stuff out there!
SHR: And your favorite book?
JW: I try to reread The Lord of the Rings every year, and I have a great collection of all the Chronicles of Narnia on my iPod and listen to those about once a year, too.
SHR: Now, back to the writing. Tell us about your most recent work and where we can get it:
JW: I published three books between July and October, 2012. The first, which is the first Rei & Gideon Quinn adventure, is called Solomon’s Throne. Its sequel is The Hoard of the Doges. These are what someone called “cozy action adventure” stories – a lot of history, good characters, action and tension, but they’re clean and not violent, so they’re suitable for everyone. I also published a Christian historical romance set in the Civil War South called Undaunted Love.
They are all available on Amazon. Solomon’s Throne is enrolled in KDP Select so that’s the only avenue for it right now (until March). The other two are available on Barnes & Noble, and I will be expanding the distribution in January, now that Undaunted Love is out of the KDP Select program.
The Hoard of the Doges on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Hoard-Doges-ebook/dp/B009WUL29M/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1356791369&sr=1-1&keywords=hoard+of+the+doges
Undaunted Love: http://www.amazon.com/Undaunted-Love-ebook/dp/B009AB33R2/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1356791392&sr=1-1&keywords=undaunted+love
The Hoard of the Doges on Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-hoard-of-the-doges-jennings-wright/1113680690?ean=9781480140899
SHR: Wow, you really have been busy! How many genres do you write in? Which is your favorite?
JW: This is an interesting question, because I’m all over the place! I don’t choose a genre and then come up with a story. I write the story that presents itself to me, and those seem to be all over the place, although the common thread is history. I guess I’m a little ADD! I’ve written action adventure treasure hunts, Christian historical romance, dystopian, and YA sci-fi/fantasy. I suspect there’s a mystery in my future, as well, although nothing on the drawing board for 2013. My favorite… is hard to say. It’s probably a tie between the treasure hunt adventures and the dystopian stories.
SHR: Of your backlist/coming soon agenda, what’s your favorite story? Why?
JW: I think the one I’m working on right now is always my favorite story… Currently I’m finishing up book 2 in a YA sci-fi/fantasy series, and I’m really having fun with them. There’s a lot of history and geography/travel in them, which I love. The first book in the series, Ixeos, will be released in February.
SHR: Are you self published or do you use a publishing house? Any advantage/disadvantage of either you’d like to tell us about?
JW: I am self published, which was my first choice once I found out about it. When I got into this process last summer I didn’t really realize there were such great opportunities for indie publishing. But I discovered Joe Konrath’s blog in a Writer’s Digest article, and never looked back (he can explain the advantages much better than I!). For me, it’s a perfect fit. My husband and I have had a business for 20 years, so I see this as a business, and understand how to grow a business. I’m a little bit of a control freak, and so being responsible for the covers and look/feel of the book is a huge advantage to me. I’m happy to rise or fall on my own efforts and do the work – now-days you have to do so much of your own marketing with the traditional publishers, with a much greater downside, that it didn’t make sense to me to try to go that direction. Finally, because I am a genre-hopper, it would be hard for me to find a good fit in traditional publishing, even if I wanted to!
SHR: Let’s talk about your writing process for a bit. Your inspiration – is it from your imagination or from personal experience?
JW: My inspiration comes from places. I have done a lot of traveling in my life and love quirky history, so when those two collide, I get really excited!
SHR: A traveling history lover…sounds like a great combination! So in that, are you a plotter or pantser? Is there an advantage to either?
JW: I say I’m a plotting pantser. When I sit down to write a new novel I know the main story, the main characters, the beginning and the end, and anything that I know must be included to make the plot cohesive. For the treasure hunts, I know the backstory and the locations where the Quinns will go. That’s all. I don’t outline chapters, I don’t know minor characters, I usually don’t know any subplots that come along during the writing. This allows me to stay on track without getting off on a tangent, move the story along, and reduce my editing without stifling the great things that happen during the writing process.
I don’t know that there’s an advantage either way. What I tell people who ask me how I’ve won 5 NaNoWriMo events in 13 mos is that the key is figuring out how you work best. I’m a project person more than a pantser/plotter – that means I love to write a lot really fast (about 90,000 words in 30 days). I couldn’t write a novel 1000 words a day… I’d lose the whole thing in the recesses of my over-cluttered mind! But for other people, that is unimaginable. One isn’t better, it’s just what suits your personality and style.
SHR: Five NaNoWriMo events? That’s amazing! It sounds like your books need a lot of research, though. How do you go about researching your stories?
JW: Because all of my stories have a ton of history in them, I do a lot of research both before I start and while I’m writing. The internet is the key – without that, I couldn’t write what I write as fast as I write it, and I certainly couldn’t allow for flexibility in the writing. I always have a dozen or so sites open with maps, photos, history, and language translation readily available, and Google Earth is an absolute necessity. While it’s a little creepy, as a writer it’s amazing that I can zoom down to a building and describe it in minute detail, down to the shrubbery! I also use MapQuest, which works for most of the world.
A lot of my research is “lifestyle” related as far as anything pre-modern-day. For instance, for the Civil War story, I read the real diaries of a Confederate teen and of a Union teen. My notes are all about what they ate, what they wore, what they called their clothing, what games they played, what they did during the day, what they worried about, what they called each other… The things that give authenticity to a historical setting/plot.
SHR: Back up to before the history. What comes first, the plot, the characters or the setting?
JW: Definitely the setting. I know I’m in the minority, and I realized a year or so ago that one of the things that had always caused me to abandon my previous efforts was that all the “how to” writing books suggest to start with a plot or with characters. I’m backwards – the setting is first, then the research which ends up suggesting a plot. I noodle that around for awhile and the last thing that comes are the characters.
SHR: And those ideas need inspiration! What inspires you to write?
JW: I just love it! I love everything about it (okay, maybe not editing so much…). My family is hugely supportive and, of course, it’s inspiring to hear from people who’ve loved the books and to watch sales increase. But mostly it just makes me happy.
SHR: When you write, is it with or without visual/audio stimulation?
JW: Great timing, because we’re having our roof redone right now. The noise inspired a blog post on this very topic – because I need QUIET! As an only child who grew up outside of town on a river, noise has always stressed me out. When I write, I have no noise at all: no music, no tv, no white noise machine, nothing. I allow birds to chirp and the creek to run, but that’s about it! (So trying to work yesterday with all the banging on the roof drove me nuts.)
SHR: Literary Hot Button: What are your thoughts on Writer’s Block? Does it exist? How do you overcome it?
JW: Thankfully, I’ve never had it. I think my “project” method of writing probably means that I’ll struggle with it less than those with other styles. But it does exist; my husband has had it before. I think the only way to overcome it is to write, even if what you write is terrible at that time. And maybe to read things that get your imagination pumping.
SHR: As an author, what’s next for you?
JW: As I said, I have the Ixeos trilogy on the drawing board right now. The current release dates are February for Book 1 (Ixeos); April for Book 2 (Ixeos: Rebellion); and June for Book 3 (Darian’s War). I’m going to do my best to meet those deadlines, although with two graduations and wedding in May and June, we’ll see! I’ll be writing two Quinn novels in 2013, per readers’ request for more of their adventures. And there are three or four nonfiction books on the schedule! That’s my 2013…
SHR: Time for more random questions! What’s the weather like where you are today?
JW: Cold and rainy, which is not a great combination for this 5th generation Floridian!
SHR: Best monster ever: vampire, werewolf, or zombie?
JW: Vampire, definitely, if we’re talking about the Anne Rice type vampires: suave, smart, rich, cool… I really don’t get zombies at all!
SHR: Finally, tell us how you really feel about the 50 Shades of Gray hype.
JW: Don’t. Get. It.
About Solomon’s Throne
After a daring robbery, Rei and Gideon Quinn are recruited by their boss to recover a lost family heirloom: a letter written by St. Paul that could rewrite the history of the Church. What they discover is that an old journal, also stolen but little thought of, was the real object of the theft. An art preservationist, Rei begins to decipher clues in the journal, and finds that they lead to a treasure: the long lost throne of King Solomon. As they embark on a treasure hunt, following the Portuguese Spice Route through east Africa, the Middle East and into India, they must rely on letters from a long dead Jesuit priest. They must also keep one step ahead of the secret militant order that carried out the robbery and is after the same goal: the prize of a lifetime. Filled with fast paced action and having broad appeal, Solomon’s Throne is an ingenious adventure that sweeps the reader around the globe in a race against time.
Thanks for visiting! It was lovely chatting with you.