Interview with Award Winning Author Jennifer Valent
Get to know Jennifer…
It wasn’t until her mid-twenties when Jennifer decided to try her hand at writing for children, but the realities of breaking into the publishing industry made it necessary for her to try other forms of writing as well. She began submitting articles to Christian women’s magazines and eventually decided to try writing a novel. A few successful freelance opportunities and the encouragement of a patient industry contact kept her writing and submitting her fiction to publishers.
Her fourth novel, Fireflies In December - a departure from the romantic comedies she first penned – placed in the semifinals of the Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel contest in 2006. After some revisions, she re-submitted the novel to the 2007 Guild contest and won the prize of publication with Tyndale House Publishers. In January 2009 Fireflies in December released, followed by the sequels Cottonwood Whispers and Catching Moondrops. Jennifer’s sincerest hope is to glorify the Lord by writing quality Christian fiction that will inspire, encourage, and uplift readers of all ages. To learn more, visit her website!
Let the conversation begin!
Where do you get your ideas?
Well, for any fiction author, it starts with imagination, I would think. I’m no different. I’ve had an active imagination since childhood, which can give you trouble in school but make a career for you down the road! It’s so nice to now have a productive way to exercise my imagination.
But imagination alone doesn’t always do the trick for me. Often it’s research that I turn to. Whether it’s reading a non-fiction book about a certain time period or place or watching a documentary – getting a feel for a way of life or a particular situation can really get ideas percolating. Because, really, fictional stories rise up from everyday life.
What advice would you give young writers?
Be yourself! That’s in life and in writing. It’s so easy to just follow the herd; become like everyone else. But God created each of us with specific personalities and skill sets. If we give those things over to Him to use as He wishes, we’re accomplishing His will for our lives, and there’s nothing more fulfilling than that.
And that plays into what we, as writers, transfer to the page. When you bring yourself into your work, it creates something entirely new and fresh because no one else can do exactly what you do. So no matter what you may read in your life that inspires you, don’t try to replicate it. Just let that inspiration fuel your own unique perspective.
Are your characters completely fictional?
My characters are primarily amalgamations. I tend to notice people; notice their personality traits and quirks. When you pay attention to those bits and pieces, it’s easy to put them together in different formulas and see what comes of them.
It’s like music notes. There are only so many of them, but you can mix them up in so many different ways that there are millions of different songs out there.
What book was the easiest to write? Hardest?
The easiest to write was probably Fireflies in December, even though a dramatic story was a change of pace for me because I’d formerly only tried my hand at romantic comedies. Once I got those characters established, I really knew the general direction I wanted to go in. As I continued to write, the characters came alive, and I managed to see the story unfold at a regular pace.
The hardest was Catching Moondrops. As the final book in the trilogy, it created several difficulties. For one thing, it was just plain sad because I knew this was the end of my journey with those characters. Also, it was the first time I’d had to write an entire novel on a deadline. That’s added pressure. And then there’s the subject matter. I had to put my characters through some pretty ugly ordeals, and although those characters don’t exist in reality, while I’m writing they feel very real to me.
But I think the biggest difficulty was tying up so many loose ends. It wasn’t only necessary to address the plot line of that individual book; I was also having to finish up the story lines that had been woven throughout the entire trilogy. And I wanted to make sure I did it right. I had to do those characters justice!
Who is your favorite author?
It really depends on what genre I’m stuck on. But I’ve read everything by Victoria Holt and Helen MacInnes. In inspirational fiction I enjoy Julie Klassen, Charles Martin, Sibella Giorello and Tim Downs.
A month at the beach with loved ones nearby, some chocolate, a stack of good books, and the comfiest beach chair in existence.
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