What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
I think writing my first book, which was non-fiction, was a sort of pilgrimage. It took ten years to write—I had two tiny boys when I started it so even finding time to write was a challenge. The book is about my experiences as a pastor’s wife and how I never felt like I fit that role. It’s also about my struggle with anxiety and anger. It was very cathartic to write out my thoughts, feelings and experiences. Going from asking the question, can I write a book to actually writing it was a pilgrimage of sorts.
What is the first book that made you cry?
The Little Match Girl was one of the first stories I ever heard that made me at least feel very sad. I was never much of a crier. But even at that young age, I was aware how a story could affect your emotions.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
I never want to unleash negative events and consequences on my characters. I try to protect them at first. It takes a conscious effort on my part to throw the bad stuff at them.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?At the moment my fiction books are a body of work with connections but I’m working on other manuscripts that are totally unconnected and also different genres.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
As I said, my first book was non-fiction. Publishing it gave me the courage to try writing fiction, along with some encouragement from my writing partners. With that courage in my back pocket, I signed up for NaNoWriMo and wrote my first novel, which I’ve since published. NaNoWriMo has changed how I write. I always use November as a time to start a new project and get words on a page.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
A rabbit. We have a pet dwarf rabbit named Whiskers.
What did you edit out of your books? (keep it family-friendly, please)
I had to really edit my main protagonist in Exit Stage Right. At first, she came off a little too rough around the edges.
What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
That’s a hard question. I would give up coffee. I drink at least three cups a day so that’s saying something.
What is your favorite childhood book?
Anne of Green Gables
What is the most difficult part of your writing process?
Balancing the marketing with the actual writing. I could spend a forty-hour week just doing the marketing for my work. Plus, I work part-time at a library. I need more hours in a day, but don’t we all?
What is the easiest part of your writing process?
Is there an easy part? Hmm. I think starting a new project is easy because it’s exciting and there’s so much possibility in those first few chapters. No plot tangles to get yourself out of.
A common misconception entwined with authors is that they are socially inept, how true is that?
A little bit true. I’m really good at one on one but in a group, not so much. I don’t do small talk well.
When did it dawn on you that you wanted to be an author?
I’ve wanted to write since I was a kid. I told myself stories from a young age.
Who are your biggest literary influences?
Lucy Maud Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, Sarah J. Maas. Any good writer influences me. I read their stories and ask myself, “How did they do that?”
What’s your favorite movie which was based on a book? Why?
One True Thing by Anna Quindlen. The mother/daughter dynamic was so well portrayed by Meryl Streep and Renee Zellweger.
How did it feel when your first book got published? How did you celebrate?
It was surreal actually. I’d dreamed about it for so long. I kept asking myself, “How can this be happening?” We did a big book launch with family and friends to celebrate.
What is that one thing you think readers generally don’t know about authors?
I’m a huge reader and I’m always surprised how normal authors are when I meet them. In my mind, they are rock stars but in reality, they could be your neighbour.
When it comes to research for your books, are you a hunter or a gatherer? Talk about your research process.
I’m a gatherer I think. Not a big fan of research so I’ll never write a historical book. Too many details. That being said, I do like interviewing people. In Exit Stage Right, I had to learn about injuries and physical therapy so I interviewed a friend’s daughter who is a PT. In my new book, I interviewed a hockey goalie to learn about training, etc. You have to be interested in what you research which is why you never want to write about something you’re not passionate about.
Could you be housemates with your characters? Why or why not?
No, I couldn’t be housemates with my characters. I’m introverted and way better on my own.
What’s your typical writing routine or schedule?
During NaNoWriMo, I get up at 5am and write for two hours. The rest of the year I try to write in the morning because that’s my best time but I’m still trying to figure it out. It’s hard to balance family, job, and writing. And I can’t figure out why I can do it during NaNoWriMo but not after it’s over.
Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. How do you recharge?
I walk and do yoga. I need lots of alone time to recharge.
Do you prefer music or silence when you write? Do you have a writing playlist? What’s on it?
Silence. I can’t have any music playing. It interrupts the flow of thoughts. I will sometimes listen to music as I walk and it inspires me and gives me ideas but then when I sit at my desk I have to turn it off.
Which celebrity would you choose to narrate your audiobook?
I don’t want a celebrity but I would love Angela Dawe, who narrated Then There was You by Kara Isaac, to narrate my book. She was so expressive, I could see in my mind the character rolling her eyes, Angela’s voice was that expressive.
What well-known author, living or dead, do you wish could be your mentor? Why?
Stephen King. Obviously he’s figured it out.
What is your favorite of the six senses (touch, taste, smell, sound, sight, intuition) to write about, why?
Smell. Maybe because I have a sensitive nose. An aroma can be good or bad, subtle or strong, and it adds depth to the setting and scene.
What is a favorite location you’ve written about? Have you visited that place? How did you choose which details to include?
A summer camp. I went to camp as a kid and my own kids have too. I included some details from my kids’ camp experiences in the book such as an indoor climbing wall that was part of the longhouse. It fit with my sports theme in the book.
Travel back in time (without negative effects for you or the timeline) what year do you visit? Why?
I’d like to go back to the 60’s. It’s not that far back in time but there was so much happening in the world. I wanted to be a journalist and it would have been incredible to cover some of those stories.
What is something about your hero or villain that drove their character, but you didn’t specifically tell your reader?
I maybe didn’t come right out and tell the reader but I hinted at it in Exit Stage Right. Shelby, my antagonist felt unloved by her mother.
Have you ever resuscitated a project you'd shelved? What helped it work better the second time around?
What do the words “literary success” mean to you? How do you picture it?
It’s changing. Literary success would be writing full-time and making a living off it. I would love to go the traditional route and have people do marketing and promotion. But there are some huge perks to Indie publishing. Literary success would also be speaking more at events, schools, bookstores—about books and writing.
Can you tell us about your current projects?
This spring I have a companion book to Exit Stage Right coming out titled Face Off. It’s Shelby’s story. It takes place at an elite sports camp for the first half of the book. She’s been sent there by her mother and she has to prove she’s deserves to be there. Ballet dancers are athletes too. Her nemesis Tristan, a NHL prospect, doesn’t agree. They face off with each other in a series of challenges, hoping to prove the other wrong.
Any advice you would like to give to aspiring authors?
Read, read, and read some more. Especially the genre you want to write. Then sit your butt in a chair and write. Don’t let anything stop you.
Please provide links and/or instructions about how readers can purchase signed copies of your books.
For signed copies, you can email me at email@example.com or contact me through my websitewww.jenniferwillcock.com
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