Sunday, April 22, 2012

Interview with Jen Blood

Tell us about you.
I've been working as a freelance writer and editor for about fifteen years now -- both jobs that I love. Highlights have included editing zombie erotica (that's erotica about zombies, not for zombies -- some people get confused about that!), proofing manga for Random House, and a whole lot of ghost writing along the way. I have an MFA in Creative Writing, can juggle, and once traveled cross-country in a 31-foot bus with 35 cats, 18 dogs, 3 goats, 7 chickens, and a Moluccan cockatiel.

Tell us about your book.
All the Blue-Eyed Angels is a mystery about the alleged cult suicide by fire of the Payson Church of Tomorrow, on an island off the coast of Maine. The main character, investigative journalist Erin Solomon, returns to the island twenty years after the event, intent on finding out the truth about the days leading up to the tragedy. Her interest in the case is more than academic, however; she and her father were the sole survivors of the fire. Afterward, Erin's father lived in seclusion on the island until he eventually also committed suicide.

Now, isolated on the Maine coast with an old flame and a mysterious newcomer with a surprising link to the tragedy, Erin will risk everything to uncover the secrets of Payson Isle secrets someone will kill to keep buried.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

It actually started with an old Ellis Paul album called Translucent Soul, and a short story I wrote about this recently-divorced woman who returns to her old hometown... The recently-divorced woman, of course, was Erin; the music from Translucent Soul never really contributed in any tangible way, but it definitely informed the mood of the novel. As for the plot itself, I was hooked on Erin's character when I read A Darker Place, by Laurie King - a book about a woman who loses her husband and daughter to a cult suicide. From there, things just kind of swirled together and, voila, All the Blue-Eyed Angels is the result.

What can readers expect when they open your book? Give us something that isn't on the book blurb.
Compelling characters and a whole lot of action. I get very excited when people tell me they were eagerly turning pages until the very end of the novel -- that tells me I did something right with my pacing, which to me is one of the most important things a novel of suspense must do. Beyond that, every one of the characters who inhabit this novel have their own story worth telling, and I'm frankly just a little in love with at least two of them.

Where do you get your ideas? 
Newspapers. Music. TV shows. People watching. Ideas, in my experience, are never hard to come by -- the real work is in making the time to actually turn those ideas into something worthwhile.

Who is your greatest inspiration?
My mom. She's super positive and very spiritual and just has a lovely energy about her, and she's always been incredibly supportive of who I am and the writing that I do.

What are you reading right now?
The Only Witness, by Pamela Beason. A great mystery/suspense novel about a kidnapping in which the only witness is a gorilla fluent in sign language. Really fascinating, gripping stuff.

Who are your favorite authors?
Dennis Lehane is my Favorite favorite, but I also love James Lee Burke, Nevada Barr, Tom Robbins, Pete Dexter, Ray Bradbury, Dorothy Parker, Raymond Chandler, AA Milne... There are really almost too many to name!

What is your current project?
I'm finishing up the next novel in the Erin Solomon series, Sins of the Father, due out June 1st.

What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment as a writer?
Finishing All the Blue-Eyed Angels and getting that puppy out to the world!

Have you experienced any setbacks for your writing along the way? If so, will you share with us.
Oh, goodness... I think anyone who writes for any length of time has setbacks. For me, I think the most significant setback to my writing happened - ironically enough - just after I finished grad school with my MFA in Creative Writing. Suddenly, fiction wasn't fun anymore. I took a break for a couple of years and during that time really didn't write much of anything at all, then slowly came back to it by dabbling in frivolous stories that were for me alone. Once I found that joy again, it was easy to keep my pen moving and stack up those pages... And I haven't really stopped since.

What is the best writing advice you've ever received?
Read! And write! Social networking is important; building a platform is important. Reading and writing are absolutely imperative. I always tell my writing students to dissect their favorite works like a biologist would dissect a vital organ. Look at sentence structure, word choice, your reaction to a particular scene and how the author evoked that reaction. Writing is a craft that must be studied, practiced, and honed if you truly want to achieve any level of mastery.

Are you a panster or a plotter?
Plotter! Like, obsessive. I'm a lunatic for a good outline.

Tell us 5 random things about you the person, not the author
1. : I once lived in a former elementary school in Kentucky that my boyfriend bought on Ebay.
2. : I have two lovely hounds named Killian and Adia, the apples of my eye.
3. : Chocolate is my drug of choice.
4. : At last count, I've had more than forty jobs in the course of my thirty-something years on the planet.
5. : I love making collages, and do one before I start any fiction project.

Where to connect online

What format does your book(s) come in?
E-books now, though the print version will be available as of April 1st 

Where to buy your book