I'm very excited! Today I get to feature my first author interview on this blog! I first met author Jenni Merrit through NaNoWriMo this year. We are both part of the PDX group of writers, and chatted through out the month. I started following her blog and was quite excited to hear about her first book that was published right as this years NaNoWriMo wrapped up. I snatched up a copy to read, and you can read my review of Prison Nation here - it's a great read. Now I present, without further ado, my interview of author Jenni Merrit.
LLLW: How long have you been writing? What got you started?
Jenni: I have literally been writing since I could hold a pencil in my hand. My mom has told me that when I was 3, I would sit at the dining room table and teach myself to write. I would ask her how to spell "cat" then proceed to ask what a "c" looks like... My parents, teachers, and friends encouraged me so much, by the time I was 6 I declared that someday I would be an author. Obviously, I stuck to that declaration. I don't think I ever had any other choice. *smiles*
LLLW: It sounds like you were destined to be an author! What happened between age 6 and now? Did you ever doubt?
Jenni: Oh man, I think for some time I doubted more than I believed. I always stuck to it though. I would enter writing competitions, fill binders with short stories and poetry. I started more beginnings to books than I can even remember, then hid most of them away. I knew I loved writing, but I convinced myself that everyone out there was better than me. Once I graduated high school, I got married. I had thought about going off to college to pursue writing, but I knew marrying my honey was the right choice. Sadly, my writing got put on a way back burner. We had our first kiddo. I didn't fully feel like myself anymore, lost in mommy-land, so I started writing again. This time, just for myself.
LLLW: Sounds like quite the journey! When you started writing again what was the tipping point where you decided: "I can do this, I can publish this story"?
Jenni: I wish I could say there really was on actually tipping point. I guess first was becoming friends with Keary Taylor. She just wouldn't let me stop. Soon after that, I won my first year of NaNoWriMo. I think it was after that, as I sat and stared at my first ever finished manuscript, that I realized this dream wasn't as far fetched as I thought. I loved this story too much to let it hide, and right then I knew I had to publish it.
Jenni: No. Funny story about how I got involved with NaNoWriMo, but Keary wasn't it. Keary is a self-published author who, I must say, is doing quite well. We had mutual friends, and easily clicked once we found we shared the same world: Writing. Keary has a blog at: http://kearytaylor.blogspot.com/
LLW: How did you get involved with NaNoWriMo?
Jenni: In 2008 an old friend told me about this crazy month long event called NaNoWriMo. I checked it out, and instantly shook my head at the very idea of trying to write that much in a month. There was no way I could do it. I quickly forgot about NaNoWriMo. Then in 2009, halfway through November, a different friend told me she was trying this event where you write 50k words in a month. She told me I needed to try. It was one of those "Oh yeah, that crazy thing again..." moments, followed by a "What the heck" moment. I signed up. Wrote about 1500 words, and quit. The month was already close to ending, and besides, this was just too crazy of a goal.
A few months after though, I kept thinking about it. I heard all of these success stories, and wondered if I could maybe be one. Then I got an idea for a new story. And decided: I would do it. I didn't plot. I didn't plan. But when NaNoWriMo 2010 started, I started. By the 14th of that month, I "won." And by the 30th I had finished my first draft of Prison Nation.
LLLW: That must have been crazy exciting! What was the editing and publishing process like?
Jenni: The editing process was insane. I went through my book more times than I can count, focusing on a different thing each time. Read thrus, editing, consistency, editing, beta readers, editing. I honestly thought this process would never end! I worked pretty much on it daily for the last year, (I know, right?) by the end, I pretty much hated my book with a passion and never wanted to see it again. That was how I knew it was finally done.
Publishing was a whole new area for me. I did query some agents, but not every book hooks as we all know. I got some great responses from some. Yet it just wasn't meant to be. I finally decided "Hey, I still want my book out there. Self-publishing, here I come!" Thank goodness for CreateSpace, I must say.
LLLW: Is there anything you'd like to say to the aspiring author's out there? Any advice?
Jenni: DO IT. Honestly, if you love writing. If you know you want to do it... then do it. I know how easy it is to be a "someday" writer. But your novel will never be written unless you sit down and write it. Yes, rejection is waiting around the corner. Yes, it is a heck ton of hard work. But it is so worth it. If this is what you love doing, then figure out what is holding you back, get rid of it, and start writing!
LLLW: Where can we find your blog and your book? Anything else you'd like to say?
Jenni: You can follow my on my blog at http://jennimerritt.blogspot.com/ I also keep a Facebook page and Twitter (@JMWriting) Please, do keep in touch! I love talking to people, especially about books and writing.
Prison Nation is available via Createspace and through Amazon and Kindle. It is also on Nook.
And don't forget to add me on Goodreads!
Thanks to Jenni for allowing me to interview her!
~ Ruthie ~