Name: Jennifer Bryan Yarbrough
Where are you from:
I’m an Oklahoma girl, born and raised in Muskogee. Yes, I’m an Okie from Muskogee, haha.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc. –
I married my high school sweetheart 24 years ago and we have three beautiful children, two boys and a girl. Our oldest son is married to a beautiful young lady who he met and fell for in Kindergarten. They found each other again through social media 2 years ago; J They have given us a beautiful grandson that was born in April 15’. Becoming a grandparent has been such a joy to me and my husband and we can’t remember what our life was like before little Bryan came along.
As a stay-at-home mom until our youngest started pre-school, I ventured out into the world and became a Property and Casualty Insurance Agent, at an independently owned Agency. I held that job for eight years until I found my love of writing. After deciding to focus more of my time on our youngest, our only daughter, who is in high school, I left the insurance job to have more time to write full-time. Thankfully, with the support of my husband and children, it has been one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I always have a book in the works and right now I am writing 2 books at once. One would be a book of fiction about time travel that I will be writing under my YA/NA author name, J.B Yarbrough. The other would be the 5th book in my Porter Kingston Series. My most recent release is a sweet little Hallmarkish, yes, I’m using that as a word, romance story about a woman who is alone in the world and has never experienced a real Christmas. It is called Christmas for Faith and I have put it in an anthology with my Crazy Lady Author friends. The boxed set is called Wrapped With A Bow and will be released very soon.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I didn’t start writing until a couple of years ago, when I started writing my first book in Jan 13’. I’ve always had a love for reading and always wanted to write but never had the courage or the confidence until I had a story that was stuck in my head that I had to release or I was literally going to go crazy.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I still pinch myself because it doesn’t seem real. After publishing six books in the last two years, the title of “writer” still hasn’t resonated with me yet. Yes, I am an author who writes books but the title seems so surreal to me
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
The inspiration for Lost and Found, the first book in my Porter Kingston Series, came to me in the form of a dream, a nightmare actually. My main character, Olivia, lost her whole family in a car accident on their way to visit a family member. After never forgetting the horrible dream that I had, weeks later I had a restless night of sleep and Olivia Porter and Cash Kingston popped into my head and their whole story was written in 6 weeks. The first chapter of the book was what had actually happened to me and my family in my nightmare.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I always write in the first person’s POV, sometimes switching between characters if I feel the need. I’ve tried writing in other POV’s but I feel more comfortable writing in first person.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Considering that my main character, Olivia, was lost in the world after losing her husband and children, she had to find herself by the end of the book because I had to give her a Happily Ever After ending, J Hence the title Lost and Found. This is the only book that I’ve contemplated changing the title because there are HUNDREDS of books with the same title.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Everyone loves reading a book that has a HEA so of course, my main characters are going to struggle with some deep personal issues they have to work out by the end of the book. I feel like I would be letting my readers down if I have them crying in the beginning of the book and not smiling with happiness for my characters by the end. I’m okay with them crying happy tears at the end but I can’t leave them devastated, haha.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
I write fiction of course but my characters deal with real life issues that everyone deals with from day to day. My two main character’s in book 1, Lost and Found, have both been widowed and they have issues moving on from their past. In each book of my 4 book series, my characters deal with issues that happen every day for a lot of people in real life. Depression, guilt, regret, abuse, young love, health issues, etc.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Not necessarily but when it comes to the grief that my characters tend to endure, I can relate and write it well from the experience of losing my little brother who was 11 at the time of his death and I was 14. It’s having that open wound that gradually closes through the years, but never ever completely goes away, is where I pull a lot of my grief from that my characters experience.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? A mentor?
The Bible has influenced me the most on a personal level. As for where my love of books came from, The Laura Ingalls Wilder books were the first series of books that I read at a young age and were a gift from one of my grandmothers. When it comes to mentors, I would have to say my grandparents, parents, and every English teacher I ever had have been the biggest mentors to me.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
When I need to take a break from writing, I am reading the Outlander series again by Diana Gabaldan. Her series is worth reading 2 or maybe 3 times, 😀
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Tons! After publishing my own books, I have found so many new Indie authors to read but I know that I would leave someone out so I’m not going to name names, 😀
Fiona: What are your current projects?
My most current release is Christmas for Faith and the two books that I am writing that I mentioned above.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I have to give God the glory for giving me the ability to create fictional stories for my readers to enjoy. I also have to thank my best friend, Rainy, for reading every word, sentence and paragraph that I’ve ever written and continues to cheer me on and give me pep talks when I’m feeling discouraged.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Of course and I love every minute of it. It’s the biggest adrenaline rush for me.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I released Eden’s Kiss, book 4 in the Porter Kingston Series in August of this year and I contemplated killing one of my main characters, and came very close to doing it but I don’t regret ending the book the way that I did. It takes me back to what I said earlier about giving my readers that Happily Ever After ending.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I laugh when I think about it. The night before I started writing Lost and Found and couldn’t sleep, because the story kept going over and over in my mind, the next day I went to work and told my little sister, who worked with me at the time, that I was going to write a book. She laughed at me of course but when she could tell that I was serious, she told me that as much as I read, if anyone could write one, I could. Her faith and confidence in me helped me go straight home that night and type out the first chapter of the book.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Here is an excerpt from Christmas for Faith, my newest release.
“Faith, I’m sorry I looked at you like that but it’s not because I feel sorry for you. Okay, I’m not going to lie, maybe I do a little bit because it’s sad that you’ve never had a nice Christmas and it breaks my heart for you that you’ve never experienced one but that’s not why I followed you. Yes, I did want to see if you were okay because my aunt feels bad for prodding you with her questions. She’s like that but she doesn’t mean any harm by it and I could tell by the look on her face that she didn’t mean to upset you so I had to make sure that you’re fine so that I can go back and tell her that you’re not mad at her.”
“I’m not mad at her, I’m mad at… myself.” I admitted, trying my hardest to hold back the tears that were threatening to fall.
“For leaving?” he asked gently.
“Yes and for…” I paused.
“For?” He threw his hands in the air, waiting for me to elaborate.
I shook my head at him and turned around and mumbled, “You wouldn’t understand.”
I turned around and looked at him and then looked at the ground because I couldn’t handle how he was making me want to open myself up to him and hated myself for it.
“I don’t do this. I don’t talk to people or go out with people. I wake up, go to work, come home and go to bed and do it all over again, every day. It’s just me and my cat and I’ve been perfectly content with my life, doing just that.” I said with a wave of my hand and let out a sigh. “That was until my boss made me take a leave of absence and use all of my vacation days and sick leave because I haven’t taken a day off in years and now I’m questioning what I have going for me in my life. Your Aunt Prudence, I’m sad to say, after talking to her last night, is the closest person that I have to consider as a friend and that’s pitiful, ya know? How many twenty five year old, career driven women, don’t have any friends to go do fun stuff with or family to have dinners with or spend the holidays with? I’m afraid to open up to anyone because I don’t want them to know that I was once one of those four year old little girls whose father came home drunk one night and beat their mother to death and then killed himself because he didn’t want to go to prison! I work with those children every day and I don’t want to see the look on people’s faces when they know my story. That ‘Oh you poor little thing’ look that you’re giving me right now!”
I turned back around and when I reached the top step and fumbled with my keys to unlock the door, I had to turn around and ask him to repeat what he had just said.
“What did you just say?”
“I said, be ready at one tomorrow for me to pick you up.” He grinned and arched his brow at me as if to dare me to say no.
“Oh, you’ll see. Just be ready.” He started walking backwards to leave but was still grinning.
“I have to wash my hair tomorrow.” I said through narrowed eyes and added, “I’m not going out with you so if this is your way of asking me out on a date-“
“It’s not a date but you will go out with me, when I ask you to.” He said with a smirk.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
When starting a new book, that’s not in my Porter Kingston Series, I have to name new characters. Sometimes that is quite a challenge because I don’t want someone that I know to think that I’m writing about them if I happen to use their name. It is a fun and challenging job when it comes to naming characters, lol.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
That is a tough one because I have so many so of course Diana Gabaldan off the top of my head. There aren’t very many books that I’ve read more than once and I’m re-reading her Outlander series again because they are that good. I also love a good Rick Riordan, Stephen King, J R Ward, Colleen Hoover, Nora Roberts just to name a few.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Only for book signings and as far as research goes, Google and the Internet are my go to places.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I’ve designed all of my covers with the exception of Christmas for Faith. Michele E. Gwynn, who is one of my Crazy Lady Author friends, turned a picture of my sister that I had taken into a beautiful front and back cover.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Writer’s block isn’t any fun so when that happens to me, I’ll take a break for a week or two and read like crazy to distract myself. When my characters start screaming at me again, I get back to writing. It hasn’t happened in a while and I hope that I haven’t just jinxed myself, haha.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned that you have to have a support system to be able to do what you love because a lot of hours go into writing each book. I am thankful for the love and support that I have from my family and friends.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Don’t feel that you have to write a certain way to “fit in” but write how you feel the most comfortable and write what you want to write and not what other’s think you should.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you for supporting me and loving my books as much as I do and for constantly cheering me on.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Little Bear, it was one of my favorites as a kid and I used to have it memorized. I plan on reading it to my grandson, 😀
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Laugh? My husband and kids because no one makes fun of me more than they do, they keep me humble. Cry? It doesn’t take much, lol. A Hallmark commercial, the smile on my grandson’s face when he looks at me, a great review from a stranger; crying can be a good thing if they’re happy tears, J
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
Ellen Degeneres, because she’s so funny and does so much for people that need and deserve it.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
She was a great wife, mother grandmother and friend and was happiest when she was creating new worlds for her readers and spending time with her precious family.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
I love reading when I can and spending time with my husband, kids and grandson because it’s a rarity for all of us to be together at the same time with the husband traveling for work and the two sons working or going to college.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I love Outlander, Arrow, Supernatural, Scandal, Game of Thrones and any Avenger or Marvel Comic book movie.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Food: Steak and Pizza; Color: Blue; Music: I’ll listen to anything but rap.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I would probably still be an insurance agent but I had always wanted to be a lawyer or psychologist.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Yes I do but it is new and I tell everyone that it is under construction. J I will be posting on it very soon. It is Author Jennifer Bryan Yarbrough