This week’s Ours Goes To Eleven interview is with sci-fi author, Jennifer Roush. Take it away, Jennifer!
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m terribly subversive. I can’t see some unspoken rule in society without wanting to break it. But I’m a stickler for following certain rules: I tend to only cross streets at crosswalks, and I’ve taken the time to learn the “why” for writing rules and figure out when they’re meant to be broken. Also, I love bubble baths and cats. I’ve found out it’s hard to combine these successfully, though.
2. Give us a five-word synopsis about your latest work.
Combatting depression, governments, and aliens.
3. When you’re finished with a piece, do you find that it tends to differ from your original idea, or does the original idea remain more or less intact?
Usually the themes will still be intact, but the plot might not be. Often, the plot starts in my head, I find a theme, and then I realize my plot has nothing to do with my theme. Sad trombone.
But if I can find a major plot that fits my theme at the rough draft, the later rewrites are much, much easier and faster.
I’m a terrible name-changer, too. I’ll write a book and the character has a name, and then the third draft in, I’ll change the name to be a play on words with the theme, or suddenly give them a last name and a family, or all sorts of disruption and mayhem.
4. If your book was made into a movie, who would you cast as the main characters?
I would want my main character to be someone like Lisa Bonet, Raven or Tatyana Ali, for looks and for attitude.
Pierre would be Kit Harington, but with short, conservative hair. I think it’d be a stretch for him to be a government suck-up. And French.
Maya would be Christina Hendricks. You want someone with some va-va-voom for that role. In my head, though, Maya was Marina Sirtis in her Deanna Troi role. I have an affinity for Deanna Troi lookalikes.
5. What’s the best thing about being an author? Worst thing?
The very best thing about being an author, for me, is actually when I read over a story again and I’m just the reader, just reading, and enjoying the story. Because I know there will be someone else out there enjoying the story just like I am, and it makes me feel a little closer to humanity in general. Here we are, from different backgrounds, from different languages in some cases, and yet we can experience being the same person on the same quest. I think finding that universality is potent and amazing.
The worst thing about being an author is being your own worst critic. There are times I can’t write a word because everything sucks, words don’t word properly. Or when you’re talking with someone, and they expect you to be eloquent because you’re an author. Dude. I need five or six drafts if you want eloquence.
6. What writer’s blogs make your Top Three list? Why do they stand out above the other flobbity-jillion out there?
I love it when authors support one another, so yours is on top. But I also follow Chuck Wendig and Joanna Penn. I love people who realize that success is not some limited resource that’s like “If I have it, you can’t have it, and if you have it, I can’t have it.” It isn’t a zero-sum game. I enjoy a lot of authors’ works, and I suspect most readers do. Liking an author is not like choosing a spouse!
I also love when people are brave enough to buck the system, either to go independent or just to seek change. I think it’s courageous and should be rewarded!
7. What is your writing-time beverage and snack of choice?
Ha! I had gastric bypass surgery, so eating and drinking are serious affairs I don’t do distractedly. Everything I eat must be high-protein, low-carb, and drinks must be calorie-free and without bubbles. I cheat sometimes with calorie-free Monster energy drinks, but I try to let it go flat first. Since I can’t get B-12 from food anymore, I need to absorb it orally. At least, that’s my excuse. Of course I supplement under a doctor’s supervision, so I don’t really need Monster, I’m just an addict.
8. Do you have any useful marketing tips for other authors?
Prototype. There’s not just one way to be successful, so go ahead and fail fast and fail forward. Try different things until you find something successful AND sustainable for YOU.
And remember that if you don’t want to do something yourself, you can always pay someone else to do it for you. That’s just what business is.
9. What changes do you see taking place in the publishing industry over the next couple of years?
I hope to see people coming together more, to form bands of authors of similar genres or styles all helping one another. A lot of authors have other interests: cover design, illustration, editing, interviewing, programming, database management, gift-box-making. I love editing and making little tea baskets, and I’d love to those not only for myself, but others, because I just stinkin’ enjoy it. I think a lot of people have varied interests like that, and if they just co-operated more, they’d find they are more successful together.
10. What’s your next project?
My next project is likely going to be a fictionalized biography of my mother. She was such an interesting person. She struggled with depression and hoarding her whole life, at times super-functional, and hospitalized at other times. But she was like some big secret in our family. We never really acknowledged it, even as we spent so much time dealing with the repercussions of it.
She didn’t want to be forgotten, and she didn’t want her life to be meaningless, so I’m hoping I can capture her kind, creative, and sensitive soul to touch some other people, and maybe help them make different decisions, or make decisions differently, than she did. Or learn to make some of the same decisions she did, when those decisions were good.
I think I just want to make sure I show people that heroes don’t need to be perfect to be perfect for their stories, and antagonists—even internal ones—are sometimes lived with, not really vanquished.
And I’d like to understand her better. Walking around in her skin for a while, writing her book as if I were her, will hopefully allow me to do that, and to find even more compassion for her and for myself.
11. We need a definitive answer to one of Humanity’s most important questions: spearmint or peppermint? Which is better?
Peppermint! Spearmint is too green-tasting. If I wanted to eat grass AND mints, I just would.
Raised on Star Trek, Dune, and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Jennifer prefers a good dose of biting social commentary in her speculative fiction, and with such influences as C. S. Friedman and Joan D. Vinge, uses gentle metaphor and a total lack of preachiness to do it. Her complex characters grow through their tense and challenging plots, through settings deliberately chosen to amplify the moral struggles we all face, but always with the assurance that you can kick back, put your feet up, and just enjoy an entertaining, funny, and haunting story if you want.
Follow her here:
SmartyPants Publishing: https://smartypantspublishing.wordpress.com/
2017’s Ours Goes To Eleven series is booked clear through to the end of the year. If you’re interested in being interviewed for next year’s series, drop me a line using my handy-dandy contact form here.