Name: Jennifer Renson
Where are you from
Central, New Jersey
I received my Bachelor’s Degree from Monmouth University in Public Relations/Journalism with a minor in History. While there I was involved with the Monmouth Review Literary Magazine and the The Outlook newspaper. Following graduation I received my Masters Degree in Counselor Education from Kean University. I write for Lost Treasure Magazine covering a variety of topics while completing three books of poetry: Delightfully Dark: A Collection of Poems and Tales, Eo: Go, walk, ride, sail, pass, travel and Uncharted.
My first published book Carousel was released in 2015 by Pulse Publishing LLC, receiving 1st Place Best YA Fiction of 2015 by Urban Literary Magazine. When I am not writing I am involved in the Open Mic communities in New Jersey, performing at open mics, book signings and other related events. Following the success of Carousel I finished the prequel The Cottontail which is underway.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
After completing my third book of published poetry, titled Uncharted, I completed the prequel to Carousel titled The Cottontail. Not long after I finished my first historical fiction story and look forward to submitting it for possible publishing. I will be attending the Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con Convention in June 2016.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I am unsure how old I was when I initially started writing but I remember picking up a pencil and paper and the rest if history. In regards to Carousel, I began writing the story at the end of 2013, completed in 2014. The reason behind the story was an experiment on my end to see if I could write this kind of story. Most of the story ideas I have move in a completely different direction.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I am unsure when I first considered myself a writer. I believe it must have been around the time I was a teenager when I was beginning to develop my first ideas for stories, flushing them out on paper and discovering that I loved writing to the point I knew this was what I wanted to do for a career.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Since I started writing I had developed several stories however did not finish them until Carousel. The story began with the villain Feletti. I imagined someone who I would fear with this presence of confidence and mystery. I thought of his motives and through that development I was able to create Marian and Princio as the story continued to flow from that point onward. At the time I was very interested in Italy during the 1400/1500s and wanted to add a historical context. As I mentioned above I wanted to see if I could write this kind of unique story with a Tim Burton aspect. Carousel was what I can describe as whimsically horrifying.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I do not believe I have a specific writing style. I tend to lean towards more fiction, young adult/fantasy/somewhat historical fiction. I am trying to break out and see what my strengths and weaknesses are with writing. The latest book that I just finished would be my first actual historical fiction story which was very new for me but time will tell how it is received.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I thought it would be interesting to stick to a one or two-word title that would have a multitude of interpretations. Is the title literal, metaphorical? Is it as innocent as it sounds or ironic? The carousel is the centerfold of the story, everything revolves around it, quite literally.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
From the reviews I have received thus far from readers, it seems that several messages have been received. I want readers to grasp that they are stronger than they believe, beautiful both in and out, capable of great things and to not let anyone tell them otherwise.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The story is purely fiction taking placing in an alternative timeline of 1492 with carousels. The story is not based on real life experiences or events with the exception of my fond memories of carousels as a child. They were my favorite ride and just thinking of them and the pleasant music that plays reminds me of times of innocence and wonder.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
The books that influence my life the most are: The Picture Portrait of Dorian Gray, The Hobbit, A Separate Peace, The Tale of Genji, Le Morte de Arthur, Jane Eyre, The Mysterious Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, Tartuffe and The Life of Cesare Borgia.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I’ve been on a Victorian Era book kick for some time so unfortunately I have not read anything from new authors yet.
I do not have a favorite author but several: J.R.R. Tolkien, Oscar Wilde and Rafael Sabatini. Tolkien set the bar for me in regards of what fantasy novels are.
My mother read The Hobbit and passed her love for that book onto me and since then I’ve dived into Tolkien’s style of how far his imagination and creativity went without extending outside of the story’s own border. Wilde’s book The Picture Portrait of Dorian Gray was such a compelling, interesting book as this ultimate cautionary tale that captivated me. It dives into a different aspect of the Victorian Era that I felt wasn’t mentioned in such a way in other books written of that era. I could not put down Sabatini’s The Life of Cesare Borgia the moment I started reading it. His historical investigative style matches my own completely when I do my own research for the articles. I obtained so much information about Cesare Borgia and brought to my attention that much of what we think we know about history is either completely incorrect or far worse/better than we thought.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Aside from my family, my friends have always been my biggest support. If there is anything they knew about me it was my passion for writing. They attend my book signings, ask about my writing, watch me perform at open mics and poetry events, inform and invite me to the events, think of me for future events. My friends are basically my second family. Between ones I’ve kept from high school, those I met in college, the ones I still make at the open mic/spoken word events, I feel quite blessed.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. One of my goals is to have writing be my full time career. I believe it is possible to achieve as long you continue to work hard, stay focused and not give up.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I feel very proud and satisfied with how The Cottontail turned out. I was able to accomplish the goals I had for this prequel and look forward to when it’s published for the world to read.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I am unsure my exact age however I know that my interest in writing started in childhood. I found it almost instinctual. I remember using a pen or pencil and began writing and haven’t stopped. I’d rather write an essay or paper over taking a test in school while the rest of the students would grumble in dread.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
My current work titled The Cottontail is the prequel to Carousel. Readers will be returning Lucca, Italy but this time from within the palace following two new characters and reintroducing them to the villain doll maker Feletti. His backstory unfolds as memories and as readers follow his steps into the path of doll making they are learning about the royals and how isolated they truly were from the rest of the small kingdom that laid just beyond the gates.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
The most challenging aspect in my writing is connecting all the dots so that the story not only makes sense but it satisfying and believable for the readers. The story can be as made up and crazy as you want but if logic does not fit the realm you created, the readers will notice and be disappointed.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
As of right now, the travel has been light in regards to book signings, open mics/spoken word and poetry events. I have only been traveling in New Jersey however I would love to travel to other states and countries for these kinds of events to meet new readers and share my work.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Pulse Publishing LLC designed the cover for Carousel and will be working on the cover for The Cottontail.
I chose photos I had taken myself for the covers of Delightfully Dark: A Collection of Poems and Tales, Eo: Go, walk, ride, sail, pass, travel and Uncharted.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Making sure that the ending not only ties into the rest of the story but makes sense and is believable for this kind of story. I had a general outline of how the story was going to unfold from the beginning but struggled on deciding the ending since I knew that there would not be a continuation. However I am pleased with the outcome.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned that as much fun as I knew it would be, its twice the hard work. The days are only so long and I had to learn how to juggle writing between working, my social life, and responsibilities. It was difficult at times but well worth it once the story was complete.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
There are a variety of actors I often thought of when writing my books and while working on other non-related novels including: Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Sebastian Stan, Francois Arnaud and Daniel Day Lewis. I am open to new and upcoming actors/actresses as long as I believe they would suit the part.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
If you want to write, write. Write what you want. Write as much as you can. Do what you love. Be open to critics/reviewers but remain confident in your work.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I want to say thank you for taking the time to read this interview, for choosing to read my books, for the reviews, the feedback and the support. Writing is my life, it’s who I’ve always been and I hope that you enjoy my work as much as I do. I hope that my poems and books inspire you, stay with you, and change you for the better. Thank you.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Currently I am reading The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. I lost track while I was working on another story however I will be returning to it shortly. I plan to dive more into the man in the iron mask aspect since it’s one of several historical mysteries that interested me for years.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Unfortunately no but I assume it was something along the lines of a fairy tale.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I find that some of the most random things can make me laugh. I always found the Marx Brothers and Monty Python’s Flying Circus very funny. The only comedians/actors who can make me laugh 100% of the time on demand are: Robin Williams and Madeline Kahn.
Without fail I will cry during emotional/death/dramatic scenes (examples: Big Fish, The Walking Dead, A Separate Peace) in movies, television shows and books. You become connected with the characters regardless of how realistic or unrealistic the situation is.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
I probably have a mile long list of people I would love to meet, from actors to writers, ancient rulers, artists and individualists because all of them truly inspired and motivated me in different ways. To make the list a little shorter I would have love to have met Robin Williams and Madeline Kahn since they were such comedic influences especially Kahn, Rafael Sabatini, Queen Nefertiti and Lucrezia Borgia.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
Something along the lines of: Loving mother, talented writer, devoted friend. Her words changed the lives and the world they lived in. Everything was done with passion.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
When I am not writing I am reading, drawing, swimming, cross stitching, researching, photography and being a volunteer archaeologist.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I am a huge fan of The Walking Dead even though I was terrified of it at first (jumped in head first during Season 3, watched reruns to catch up and now I don’t miss a beat). Before that I was very fond of the historical dramas The Tudors and The Borgias which literally made you realize your problems were nothing compared to what they went through and how much people changed and yet remained the same. I still miss both shows very much and I anxiously await the next season of The Walking Dead.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Favorite foods: Italian, Chinese, Spanish/Mexican
Favorite colors: Teal, red, pink
Favorite music: David Bowie, Classical (Mozart, Brahms, Schubert), movie soundtracks (Patrick Doyle, Brian Tyler, Paul Newton, Hans Zimmer etc).
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Ideally I would have gotten involved in Egyptology and been an Egyptologist or archaeologist.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?