Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the one hundred and fourth, is of portal fantasy author Jinn Nelson.
She sat down one night, without any clear goal in mind, and wrote a heartwarming story about two sisters finding the perfect gift. She wrote it in multiple points of view.
At sixteen, she wrote the first draft of Fear the Hunted while also studying medical transcription. After high school, she married and lived quite happily in northern California, a self-employed medical transcriptionist until she met a group of writers online and began writing fiction again.
She now lives and writes in Wisconsin with her husband and three cats. She is a voracious reader, particularly of Celtic mythology, Steampunk, and portal fantasy. She also enjoys knitting, rock climbing, loose-leaf tea, zombies, dancing, and the Internet. Her favorite country is Scotland.
And now from the author herself:
Hemingway talked about the well of writing, a deep place within fed by springs deeper still. Many ideas are down in my well, and they rise to the surface as they grow and are ready to be realized. The story begins to align, as if nudged into place by some Hand. Some days, that nudge feels less like divine inspiration and more like a devious, cockeyed muse sent to torture me. Eventually, though, the ideas do come together and a book is the result.
Fear the Hunted, my first published work, began as images growing larger and louder with time: a girl with a mysterious mark; a young boy with blond hair shooting a bow and arrow; a ragged group sprinting away from a burning city. When enough images collected that scenes began to show themselves, I began writing them.
When she found out I was writing, my grandmother gave me a stack of her old Writer’s Digest magazines; I studied Nancy Kress’s articles on fiction, then would test out my new knowledge on the next scene. The book became a collection of writing exercises that were all connected. I followed the story to its conclusion, did a revision, but my taste told me it wasn’t really done yet. I stored it in my closet, where it aged for a few years, while I grew up and gained more skill.
Eventually, I remembered that story. It began keeping me up at night, wanting to be truly finished. I went back to studying, learning from masters like James Scott Bell and Stephen King. The last stretch of revisions felt like a descent into madness. One of the scariest things about writing is that you don’t know what you’re doing. Not really. That may be why so many people begin stories but never finish them. There’s an element of running blind, of groping ahead for the next thing, not knowing what it will be or what to do with it when you find it. Gold is always there, if you look for it long enough. Most people, I think, stop after they get tired of looking, just before they’d have found it. Because it’s inconvenient to write. You have to create pain and live through it with your characters until it’s resolved. And if you’re stuck on one scene for six months that effort turns into a marathon. And it feels like one. You just have to keep going, hoping you’re not making a huge, 27-page mistake. Toward the end I barely slept, as the final scenes played constantly in my head. And then, finally, it all came together. I finished. That day was like Christmas.
I wandered around, staring at nothing in particular. I ate a whole pineapple pizza in celebration. Next day, reading James Scott Bell’s Plot and Structure, I could almost hear him congratulating me: “Great job, kid. You finished a book. Now get to work on the next one.”
The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with non-fiction (Mayan) author Jeanine Kitchel – the four hundred and thirty-eighth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.
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Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.