Author Interview with Jennifer Nielsen

Get to know Jennifer Nielsen…

Jennifer Nielsen was born and raised in northern Utah, where she still lives today with her husband, three children, and a dog that won’t play fetch. She is the author of The Ascendance trilogy, beginning with THE FALSE PRINCE; of The Underworld Chronicles, beginning with ELLIOT AND THE GOBLIN WAR; and will write the sixth book of the Infinity Ring series. She loves chocolate, old books, and lazy days in the mountains. For more info, visit her website.

Let the conversation begin!

Anything you’d like to share with your readers?

Aside from my absolute gratitude to those who have read my books, I think this is a very important time to share my conviction that we have mealtime backwards. Seriously, why isn’t dessert first, when we’re still hungry? 

How did you choose the genre you write in?

When I first started writing, I was in adult suspense, and I thought it was the right place for me. My stories were okay, but not publishable. One day I happened upon a fan fiction contest that challenged writers to create their own version of the final Harry Potter book. I was a huge fan of the series and the challenge appealed to me. So I wrote furiously for two weeks, barely coming up for air. It was awful, little more than a first draft shell of a story. And yet I’d never had more fun writing. That challenge awoke something in my imagination, and once I’d finished, I knew I’d be spending a lot more time with fantasy writing. 

How do you recharge your creative batteries?

Chocolate. Several hundred calories later, if I’m still in a funk, it may be that I just need to step away for a while, go on a run to counteract the chocolate binge, and then delve a little heavier into reading, watching movies, or listening to favorite songs until I touch on an emotion, or an image, or a phrase that gives me just the prompt I need. 

Planner or a procrastinator? Example?

I procrastinate yard work, grocery shopping, and potentially awkward phone calls. With most other things, I’m a planner. If I’m managing an extra heavy load, I also tend to create lists. A little OCD, I know, but it keeps me sane. 

Are you a person who makes the bed in the morning?

There comes a point when the covers are so twisted that making the bed becomes mandatory. I may have reached that point this morning. 

What was the worst writing advice you’ve ever been given?

I don’t know that it was advice anyone gave me, but early in my career I was really focused on the rules: proper grammar and sentence structure, show don’t tell, don’t begin with a dream or with your character waking up, etc. The rules were important to know and understand, but they also made my writing bland and my characters rather generic. One day I decided to write something solely for my own entertainment – to not care about any rules and just write for myself. That was the day I found my voice as a writer. It’s voice that sells a novel, not one’s adherence to writing rules. 

Best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Ignore the failures who say success is impossible. 

Will you have a new book coming out soon?

Book 2 of The Ascendance Trilogy is called THE RUNAWAY KING will release next spring.

Any advice to share with aspiring writers?

I think it’s really important for all writers to keep their eye on their goal. Our time and creative energies are limited, so we have to be choosy. In this industry, it’s very easy to become distracted by easily obtained goals that are distractions from the things we really want. There is no single path to success, nor one definition of success. But whatever your goal, make your career choices based on what gets you closer to where you ultimately want to be, not what is easy in the moment. 

When was the last time you went bowling? Was it fun or total disaster?

I never bowl without thinking of a date I went on as a teenager. I was paying more attention to flirting with the boy than to the ball. My arm swung back with the ball, I looked back and smiled, then swung my arm forward and um, failed to release the ball. It dropped, and I went with it – my jaw dropped directly on top of the ball. He didn’t ask for a second date. I don’t blame him for that. 

What is the easiest part of the writing process? Hardest?

I don’t know if any part if easy for me, but the most fun is in the planning, when I’m creating scenes in my mind that I can hardly wait to write. The hardest part is hitting “send” to my editor for the final manuscript. I hate letting it go, knowing I won’t be making any more corrections, that it’s done. 

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