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Friday, July 27, 2012

Interview with Jennifer L. Armentrout, YA rising star

From Jennifer's website:
Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you've heard about her state aren't true. She is the author of the COVENANT Series (Spencer Hill Press), the LUX Series (Entangled Publishing), and the upcoming YA contemporary mystery/thrillers DON'T LOOK BACK (Disney/Hyperion Fall 2013) and yet untitled book (Disney/Hyperion tentative Fall 2014).

I first heard of Jennifer when I signed with Spencer Hill Press this past February and I was astounded by all of the buzz about her online and the sheer volume of books she had coming out. I wanted to know-who is this woman who has sold fourteen books and why hadn't I heard of her? So staggered was I that I immediately downloaded her free novella from SHP, Daimon from her Covenant series (not to be confused with the mc from her Lux series, Daemon) to see what all the fuss was about. I was really taken in by the pace, the humor and the kick-ass sassiness of her heroine, Alex and bought Half Blood. I liked it, started reading and then got distracted by a million other things and read it a few pages here and there. Then I was lucky enough to get an arc of Obsidian at the BEA and-started reading and was instantly HOOKED. Like could not put down hooked. From the great dialogue to the steaming romance, to the coolness factor of a love story between an alien and an ordinary gir—to be honest, I was surprised how much I did love it. I went on to read Pure, book #2 in Covenant and downloaded Shadows, the very touching and heartbreaking prequel to Obsidian which helped me to understand exactly why Daemon acts like such a jerk. Am I a fan girl yet? You bet I am--and I even met Jennifer at BEA, know she is a normal human being, and yet..

I've since been trying to figure out why Jennifer's books are as addictive as chocolate ice cream and I have a few ideas.

For one thing, her characters, though perhaps better looking than your average human (or alien) are far from perfect. In Half Blood of the Covenant series, Alexandria has serious anger issues and loves to punch things that piss her off. Her love interest Aiden seems perfect, but isn't sure if he wants to risk everything to be with Alex. Oh, and then there is the narcissistic demi-god Seth, who has all of the best lines. You gotta love him and Alex's love/hate relationship with him.

In Obsidian,Daemon is quite plainly, uber-hot, but obnoxious, and Kat is kind of a lovable nerd and book blogger who is no shrinking violet. So while the characters are a bit larger than life, they also have very distinctive personalities which comes through in their behavior and dialogue.
Her plots are breakneck exciting. You never know what's coming.

Then there is the humor. All of Jennifer's characters have great lines, and I often found myself guffawing out loud. Okay—I'm too lazy to point any out—so you will have to read one or all of her books yourself!

That being said, what I really wanted to explore here is how Jennifer did all of this in such a short amount of time. How any human being writes so much, all of it terrific. I'm not even sure where to start, so bear with me.

1. When did you start writing?
As cliche as this sounds, I've been writing since I was knee high to a grasshopper. I started wit poetry and i really sucked at that. I moved on to writing short stories and then when I was in the 8th and 9th grade, I wrote my first full length novel by longhand. It was called The Forbidden Ones and I'm pretty sure that sucked also. But I've been writing as long as I remember.

2. What was your journey like from aspiring author to published?
It wasn't the typical path. I started off like almost everyone does, searching for an agent for Half-Blood. That book also had about a 1,000 different titles, but I queried about 30 agents before I realized that my query was so bad it was embarrassing. I found the website Query Tracker, which helped me write a good query. Off I that, I got partial and full requests from agents, but after about a 100 queries-- Yes, a 100-- I trunked the book. Meanwhile, I'd been working on Cursed (and guys, always be working on something else). There was this query contest being run by Spencer Hill Press. I entered the Cursed query in their contest, but actually submitted the Half-Blood query to them as a submission. They asked for a partial and then the full, and within a day, they made an offer of publication. I owe pretty much everything to them, because they were willing to take a chance on a book I pretty much put on the shelf. From there, I sold Cursed to SHP (9/2012) and an adult title to Entangled (Unchained 10/2012). Obsidian came next, and around that time I gained representation from one of the agents I'd been Internet stalking the whole time. Through Kevan Lyon, I went out on submission with another YA, a contemporary mystery/thriller that sold to Disney/Hyperion along with another title in a pre-empt. If my path tells aspiring writers anything, there is NO ONE path or traditional path. Things have a way of working out, even if you don't start off like others do.

3. You are a social media genius. Any promotion tips for other authors out there?
Ha. I wouldn't consider myself a genius at it. I like to talk and connect with people, so that helps. Do what you feel comfortable with and don't make it about selling your book. I think where aspiring authors go wrong is that all their tweets and stuff is links to buy their books. It's like they're just robots who tweet buy me links. That's a huge turn off.

4. Tell us about your process. How much time do you spend writing each day?
Writing is my career, so I treat it like one. I dedicate time every day. Every. Day. There really is no such thing as weekends for me. I usually write anywhere from 6 to 10 hours a day. When I start to go cross-eyed or stir crazy, I take a break. There are days when I don't want to write and unless it's a serious case of "I don't wanna" I make myself do it. Setting goals help.

5. How long does it take you to write a book?
It really varies. The quickest I've ever written a book was about 7 days (Obsidian) and the longest it has taken me is about 2 to 3 months. Several things factor into that-- how big the story is, the plot and pacing and if there are issues with that, and if I have other things going on. The story pretty much determines how long it will take.

Thanks for having me!


You are so welcome Jennifer! It's been a pleasure.
If you would like to learn more about Jennifer and the worlds she has created, visit her at:
http://www.jenniferarmentrout.com/

7 comments:

  1. Great interview!I am shocked to know Obsidian was written in only 7 days! That's wild! It is so good, you'd thing it would have taken forever to write!

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  2. I know--I can't believe it. Jennifer has a ridiculous work ethic! Lucky for us she can write eight times as fast as anyone else!

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  5. awesome interview! I'm a huge fan of Jennifer's - love Obsidian and Onyx. Starting on the Covenant series next :D

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