DAB: Was there a point in your life that prompted your desire to write or have you always wanted to be an author?
JL: I actually pondered this question while working on Initiation. If you had told me when I was younger I would grow up to be an author I would have laughed in your face. Because of essays and reports in school I HATED writing. But looking back I realized that wasn't true. Any time we were given a free write or write-a-story prompt I would bury myself into the assignment, even using my breaks and/or recesses to finish them. I remember an assignment during my sophomore year in HS was to write a two page fable and mine turned in to a forty page novella. So it's always been there I just didn't like the rules and it wasn't until I got the idea for Initiation that I realized writing was my passion and calling and that now I had the freedom to write what I wanted.
DAB: This sounds so much like something my son would say. Where do you come up with ideas for your novels?
JL: Ha. The inspiration for Initiation was a doozy. You can find the full story on my "About Me" on my website but I'll give you the bridged edition.
It began one hot August afternoon in 2008, right in the front seat of my maroon, ’95 Mazda MX6. I was outside my sister’s work, waiting to pick her up, (because I’m such an amazing sister) when I got a little bored. I got my iPod outta my pocket, stuffed the earplugs in my ears and cranked up the volume full blast just to pass the time. As I zoned out to the music, my mind skipped happily over to imagination land where it likes to spend most of its days. Visions of me being a phenomenal dancer are its favorite fantasy to concoct while music is playing and that day was no exception. “Move It Like This” by the Baja Men popped on and my fantasy self materialized into a parking garage wearing a black sweater and black leather pants. I thought, “Hunh, weird, but at least my butt looks good” and let it play out. So there I was, dancing in my sexy pants when all of a sudden Will Smith joined me. The two of us had a dance off. Will laughed at my skills and mocked my moves and it ended with us just laughing the whole thing off. Fun time. But sadly the song ended and so did the fantasy. At that point I paused my iPod and pondered this crazy event. And by ponder I mean I sat there and was like, “What the hell was that?” and then just dismissed it because my sister got into the car and we drove off into the sunset. Fast forward three weeks. I sat outside my sister’s work, once again displaying my awesome sisterly skills. Couple minutes in I get bored and go straight for my iPod. I shuffle around the songs and come to “Move it Like This”. I laugh to myself, hit play just for fun and close my eyes. My mind torpedoes to the old fantasy except its a little different. This time Will and I were in a warehouse littered with crates and old rags, he still in his suit and I in my sexy pants and now a white button down with a black sweater vest (don’t ask). So we start dancing and choreographing this awesome dance, moving and grooving in perfect unison when Robert Downey Jr. pops in, wearing an all-black suit and red tie. Like all musicals, RDJ knew the choreography and seamlessly blended into our routine. At this point I start cracking up (his dancing was pretty bad) and immediately turn off my iPod, accepting I’d finally lost it. What the hell was going on with me? Luckily my sister came for distraction and we went home.
From there my mind was assaulted by images of us fighting, shooting, and making things explode and I realized these were scenes of a story. I grabbed a notebook, wrote JAX across the top and flooded the pages with my ideas. I came home one day, looked at it, decided I was going to write a book, and did. Ta da.
DAB: Something in common - mine's a Mazda too! Do you have a character(s) in your novel with whom you closely identify?
JL: I always tell people that Jinx is me if I had confidence and no conscience. She is my true alter ego. We've sorta seeped into each other over the years and my own personality has changed because of it (hopefully for the good). But X definitely represents my inner geek with our shared obsessions of comics and video-games.
DAB: Were there any characters you found difficult to write?
JL: I would definitely say Ace was hardest for me. He has this aggression to him but part of me always wanted him to be witty and the results were disastrous. I can't tell you how many scenes I had to scrap because he just came off immature instead of the confident, cold, and calculated man he is. They weren't natural to his character. It wasn't until I wrote the "Tag" scene that I really understand who he was and how to best represent him. It was also hard to keep him out of the cookie-cutter mold for macho, alpha males. I constantly had to go back to find ways to bring out his depth. Under his brutish shell is an artist, as we see at his art show, and someone who is very dedicated to whatever he does.
DAB: Who is your favorite character in your novel, and why?
JL: That's like asking who your favorite child is. I love Jinx, Ace and X equally. Each of them have traits I love and hate about them. But I will say this, if X was real, I would pull the caveman move and bash him upside the head and drag him off. He would wake up standing in front of me at the alter and I would smile and say, "Just say, I do". Course I'd need a ladder to reach that high.
DAB: The caveman move – I love it! Do you write full-time or part-time? If full-time, tell us about the journey to full-time. If part-time, share with us about your “day” job.
JL: As much as I would love to write all day, I can't. I have to squeeze writing in whenever I can. Currently I bring home the bacon by working as a nanny for a family I absolutely adore. They totally support my dreams and the book. The oldest one (10 yrs.) even told me I inspired her to become an author, which is the greatest compliment an author can receive.
DAB: There's the eternal debate whether to outline or not. What is your preference?
JL: I am an outline girl to the core. It baffles me how people can get a glimpse of a character then sit down and write a book. It took me months to outline Initiation. I'm someone that needs a map of direction so I know what to expect and I think with a series like mine, where there is some mystery, you do need a sense of where you're going. You can't have major information pop up in the last book that never even got brought up in the previous ones. But that's not to say I don't welcome a little rerouting, some of the best memories on a road trip come from getting lost or detours. Most of my favorite chapters and scenes were written on a whim. But overall I feel more confident knowing where I'm supposed to go.
DAB: How do you handle negative feedback about your novel(s)?
JL: I actually just read my first review and although she had some biting words, I chose not to let it phase me. As an artist you have to know not everyone will appreciate your work. What makes the world such a beautiful, magical place is that we're all different. We all have different tastes and opinions and that's okay. Be true to yourself and your work and the right people will find it and love you for it.
DAB: You’ve got a great understanding here. I think it will take you far. Usually authors are also avid readers - what are you currently reading?
JL: I am currently reading THE PROPHECY OF ARCADIA by M.H Soars, a fellow indie author. It's a YA fantasy set in present day and I can't put it down. As soon as I'm done here I'm going to dive right back in.
DAB: Do you have any writing pointers for the authors in our audience?
JL: Write, edit, rewrite, repeat. You should be writing every day, even if it's only an hour. I also recommend printing off your work to edit. You'd be amazed how much more you see when you edit on paper compared to editing on the computer.
DAB: Excellent words of wisdom (and now I feel the need to wash my hair for some reason)! Care to tell us what is next on your writing horizon?
JL: I am currently working on book two of The JAX Chronicles, entitled COLLECTION. After the team complete a difficult hit in Las Vegas, the man who hired Ace refuses to pay. Jinx, Ace, and X then travel around the country to hunt him down to get their money and revenge. There will be four novels all together and then I'm going to pen a fantasy series about guardian fairies.
DAB: Now’s your chance – give us the final plug for your novel.
JL: If you're looking for some fast-paced, edgy fun mixed with a complicated love "triangle", you should check out my action packed, coming-of-age book. Or you can just stop by and say hi. I love meeting new people.
Sounds like a plan, Jen! Thanks for stopping by the blog and sharing about The JAX Chronicles. I really hope to have the opportunity to read this first in the series later on this year. If dark and dangerous is what you're looking for, check it out on Amazon or visit her Goodreads and Facebook pages for more information.
Growing up around law enforcement, Jen heard more cop stories than fairytales and preferred tactical training over tea parties. Using the skills she was taught, combined with her interest in the criminal mind, she decided to weave her knowledge into her passion; writing. Jen currently resides in California with her sister, niece, and a stray cat she made the mistake of feeding. This is her debut novel. Visit her website at http://jenlemons.com/about/.