Long and Short Reviews is pleased to welcome Jennifer Brown, whose debut novel In Jen's Words: Facing the Issues has been released from No Boundaries Press. She will give away a download of it to one commenter on today's interview.
Jennifer has been writing since the third grade, when her reading teacher assigned the class to groups to write a short story. Before then, she wanted to be a secretary. She ended up hooked and entered the Young Author's competition a year later. All through middle school she wrote short storied that she stapled in between construction paper and even gave some away as Christmas gifts. The summer before she entered high school, she finished writing a whole "book" filling up an entire notebook.
As she was growing up, The Babysitter's Club, The Hollisters and Nancy Drew were big influences on her. The first thing she wrote was titled The Mystery Club where the characters were young kids based on her and her friends. She created a character in his twenties who was based on an actor she had a crush on them to guide them in solving cases. Now that she's older, a wider range of authors have inspired her from V.C. Andrews to Harlan Coben.
Jennifer is working on the next book in the In Jen's Words series, which will deal with a storyline just hinted at in Facing the Issues. The story picks up right where Facing the Issues left off and takes place around the holidays.
"What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing Facing the Issues?" I asked.
"I worked with the main characters, the Barnes, years ago and decided to bring them into another storyline a few years ago. As Jen’s mental illness was revealed, it was quite a shock to me. It was unexpected and at the same time very exciting. For research, I read up on the disorder Jen has. I got a book from the library on it, and did research online as well. It also helps when you have a friend who is a doctor in the psychology field who can answer questions."
Jennifer's favorite author is Linwood Barclay.
"He has very good engaging storylines and well-written twists," she explained. "His books are so addicting, I find myself taking my time reading them because I want to try to make it last."
She tries to come up with unique twists in her own books as well.
"I love the unexpected when it comes to writing," she said, "and I also love it while reading so I do try to incorporate that as much as possible while working on a novel."
I asked her to describe her writing space.
"My writing space varies, since I do most of the basic work in a composition book. But most of the final work starts and ends on my computer, so I will describe my desk. My computer sits on top of a cubby hole underneath my desk, where all my wip’s are neatly stacked. I have a shelf above, that holds an assortment of the penguins and squirrels I collect, as well as a mini lamp, and hideaway box that looks like a stack of books that conceals my back up flash drive."
When she's not writing, she loves to read. She also likes playing video games and experimenting with photos and graphics on the computer.
"I made the mistake of having Burger Time downloaded onto my flash drive I always carry with me that my writing is also stored on. But it makes for a lot of fun until my writer’s block disappears," she told me.
"What are the best and worst pieces of writing advice you ever received?" I asked.
"Being told not to give up was the best advice ever given to me. As for the worst, I’d have to say being advised to make an outline before starting the novel. I hated doing outlines in school, and starting one for a novel to me just seems to be a waste of time. I have the plot already formulated in my mind, and I just let the characters carry me along as the story develops. For the most part, this process has rarely let me down, but even when you have an outline, things don’t always sail smoothly, things always change."
Her own advice for a new writer is very simple.
"If you are enjoying what you are doing and it makes you happy don’t stop, and don’t let someone else put you down for it. You will always have critics, but if you believe in what you’re doing there’s bound to be someone else who will as well."
I asked Jennifer her thoughts about ebooks vs. print.
"Nothing will ever compare to the feeling of holding a print book in your hand," she told me. "But the ebook is evolving, and does seem to be becoming a huge part of publishing. Sadly, it’s contributing to book stores going out of business but it is easier and less expensive to download a book. Both have their pros and cons, but ultimately I still have a very large shelf of paperbacks."
Jennifer has several favorite quotes, but one of her absolute favorites is from her favorite author, Ray Bradbury: You must stay drunk on writing or reality will destroy you.
" There have been so many times in my life, that if I didn’t have the ability to write, I really don’t know how I would have gotten through them," she confessed. "Writing is great therapy, and does serve as an excellent antidrug."
About the Author:
Find Jennifer online at
Jennifer and Justin Barnes have been raised by their older brother Jacob since they were teenagers…little did Jacob know, he was raising a third personality as well.
The Barnes have been through it all. The loss of their parents in a car crash, rape, and incarceration. But nothing could prepare them for what they are about to deal with.
When Jacob decides to run for mayor of Springwood, Ohio, someone else decides to haunt him and his family, using his younger sister’s alter personality as leverage in their game.
After Jen’s mental disorder is made public, the first of many shocking revelations are made, including who her biological father really is. She is ordered into custody in the mental health wing of Springwood Memorial as a case is built against her for the murder of Davis Cauley, a former local news anchor.
Jacob gets his sister released in time for the holidays, only for another murder to occur. The body of Brenda Sowers, Davis Cauley’s sister is found in Mercy Park, the same area where her brother was found—in a storage shed, with hedge clippers in his back, and Jen across from him with no memory of what happened.
More incriminating evidence links Jen to Brenda’s murder, as Black Friday looms. The big weekend draws Jacob to the mall, where he’s in for another surprise. A photo of his brother sent to his phone reveals another huge secret, involving all of Springwood.
As the Barnes recover from what has been a very turbulent Fall, other secrets are lurking and waiting to be revealed as a family faces a trial of issues to come.