Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Thanks for having me, Fiona. I’m Jennifer, and I publish my books under my full name — Jennifer Ann Shore. I’m about to turn 29, and while most of my friends are stressing about leaving their twenties, I don’t mind it — each year has been better than the last!
Fiona: Where are you from?
Ooh, tricky question. I was born in Columbus, but my family moved us back to Pittsburgh when I was six. I went to college in Cleveland and moved to New York right after graduating from college. In June, my husband and I relocated to Seattle, Washington.
I really need to work on shortening my answer to this question, but I feel a strong connection to each place!
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
Growing up, I had a lot of trouble reading and even more trouble spelling — and I didn’t truly fall in love with writing until later in middle school. But I was then I was hooked, writing all sorts of poems and imagining living a career as a writer.
I moved to New York with the intention of being a journalist but ended up in various publishing and content roles until I landed my first job as a marketer, where I worked up the corporate ladder as quickly as I could. It was in the middle of planning my wedding, getting a promotion at work, and juggling a freelance project that I decided to write my first book.
When I look back on writing “New Wave” (The Islands of Anarchy Series, Book One), I honestly don’t know how I did it — I think I was just in such a hustling mode that it was an outlet for me. The idea for that book came to me in a dream, and I woke up on a Saturday morning, grabbed my computer and sat on the couch without moving for six hours. I outlined the entire first book — and wrote notes for three more planned in the series — and kept going. I’d get inspiration in meetings at work, while listening to music on the subway, and walking around my neighborhood. The process took about eighteen months from start to finish — and everything changed for me when it was published.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I’m so unbelievably excited to share my latest book, “The Extended Summer of Anna and Jeremy.” It’s a very light, sometimes sexy, and a little fluffy young adult romance, and it was a ton of fun to write.
After we moved to Seattle, I had all intentions of writing the sequel to “New Wave,” but I had that idea for “Extended Summer” kicking around and I thought, “Well, let’s just see where this goes.” Eight days later, I had a finished draft — and about six weeks later, I published it.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
The defining moment I can recall was in eighth grade English class. We were doing a poetry unit, and one of the exercises was to create a “found poem,” which, funnily enough, now that I think about it is a little bit of plagiarism — but essentially you took a magazine article or a newspaper or some existing piece of work and cut words or phrases out of it to make your own.
It was like some fog lifted from my mind, and I realized how “easy” it was to cull words together into some story, regardless of the form, and I was hooked. I entered writing contests in high school, and in college, I honed my technical writing and storytelling skills.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think I considered myself a “wannabe writer” for a long time, and I didn’t feel comfortable calling myself that until after I published my first book, which is horribly depressing to think about now. I usually hid behind “journalist” or “book editor” or other titles that were defined my income — but moving forward, “writer” will forever be the way I describe myself.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
As I mentioned before, it came to me in a dream. Before I started writing “New Wave,” I was reading everything I could — other books, travel magazines, tweets, Harry Potter fan fiction, free eBooks, etc. By doing that, studying styles and others’ crafts, I was tremendously inspired, and I like to think that my mind was just ready to spill something out.
I will say that the original scene I dreamt about won’t even make an appearance in The Islands of Anarchy series until the third book — although I had originally planned it for the first, when the characters and plot took a more definitive shape, it didn’t work.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
This book is a dystopian set around a number of islands (the Galapagos, as I wrote some of it while I was traveling through Ecuador) so I knew I wanted something with a water theme. I got Sebastian (the love interest/man in charge of their government) to say how Mol “sparked a new wave” and thought it would be perfect for the title. The next ones in the series will have a similar theme.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
My first two books are young adult books — I joke that I had enough drama to pull from in my teenage years that I will never run out of material for that genre.
But I think the biggest challenge for me is the style of the two books and switching between them: “New Wave” is a more direct style, and in it, I have to build out an entire universe/cannon, whereas in “Extended Summer” it’s just me reimagining some of my high school years and being a little romantic with it.
After I wrote “Extended Summer,” I finished up the first draft of the sequel to “New Wave,” and I have to admit, it didn’t flow as quickly as I wanted it to because of what I mentioned above, but I’m still happy with where it is at so far.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
For “Extended Summer,” I got to base it in Pittsburgh, where I spent my formative years, so I used some of that familiarity in the book. (Mostly with colleges in the area and places to go and eat, though.)
Some little traits and lines will come from my life (for example: Jeremy and my husband both tap their fingers on their legs when they are happy) but everything else is just a distorted view of reality.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I wouldn’t say I have to travel, but I do a lot of research when needed. Since both books were pretty much set in areas I’d spent time, it was easy to cull details from memory. I did fact check myself in “New Wave” on some of the plants, flowers, and cuisine in Ecuador, as I thought it was important to be as accurate as one could be in a dystopian future.
But I would love to spend some time in other countries when I write future books in said countries.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
“New Wave” was designed by Kyle Phillips, and “Extended Summer” was designed by Kelly Lipovich.
In both scenarios, I sent over some early chapters of the books, some imagery that inspired me, and a little description of stuff I thought might work (with 100% permission to trash it if it was terrible).
I absolutely love both covers, but since “Extended Summer” is more recent, I have been gushing over it endlessly. I think it’s playful and cute and fits the vibe of the book really well.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
“Extended Summer” is pure sugar, but in “New Wave,” I address a lot of political and social topics that are important to me — which is why it is a little heavier to write.
I’m very tired of reading young adult fiction where the main character’s purpose is to land a significant other, and while I know that dating and relationships are a big part of life, it does an injustice to young women everywhere to act like that is their sole purpose for existing — so you won’t be reading anyone like that in my books.
If anything, I purposefully write strong female characters who don’t live for the approval of others but work to find themselves and get comfortable with their flaws.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
If it’s okay, I want to highlight some authors who are major inspirations for me — Ginger Scott, Rachel Higginson, Lauren Morrill, Dani Fankhauser, and Nicole Williams. Each one of these women have an incredible talent, and I admire them immensely for how they’ve grown over the years and into their crafts. I’ve learned so much from reading their work and watching them go.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
I’m beyond grateful to have an army of journalists, bloggers, writers, professors, designers, and friends in my corner who give me free PR and endless support.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
For me, yes, but it doesn’t have to be for everyone else.
One of the most common things people say to me when they hear I’ve written a book is “Oh, I have so many ideas!” or “I wish I could do that!” and the truth is that being a writer is within each of us but not everyone is going to choose to monetize their creativity, and maybe that’s for the best.
Being a writer doesn’t mean you have to write books — it can be screenplays, short stories, poems, Instagram captions, etc., or anything else that feels fulfilling when you pick up a pen or sit down at a keyboard.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Many writers, including myself, struggle with the idea that a work is never truly finished. I could’ve spent the rest of my life editing either book (and that would be such a shame) so it comes to a point where I have to let it go. If I really thought about it, sure, I might change wording or dialogue in some way, but I’m trying not to spiral into endless hours of line edits.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I tried to improve my writing process as a whole, I created a checklist of each chapter along with “first draft, first edit, second edit, proofread,” in hopes of streamlining edits before I published. Honestly, it didn’t really make that much of a difference, but I got to use a bunch of different-colored pens, so I’m counting it as a victory.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I love this question, and I love hearing my readers’ opinions on this.
Interestingly enough, I’ve only ever had two celebrities/actors that I’ve imagined as characters, and they’re both in The Islands of Anarchy series — A$AP Rocky for Sebastian and Blythe Danner as Slyvia (a character in the second book of the series, who only exists in draft form at the moment).
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Just write. Do it. Carve out an hour when you’re alone and ignore all distractions. Set a timer and don’t touch your phone. Just write and don’t stop or overthink it, and see what happens. You might be surprised at what you’re able to accomplish in that time — and how good it feels to tune out everything else and focus on nothing but the words in your head.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I’m super grateful for anyone who has taken a chance on one of my books — it means everything to me!
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Right now I’m flipping between a Game of Thrones alternative ending fan fiction, Nomadic Matt’s travel memoir, L.J. Shen’s “Sinner of Saint” series, and one of Jenny Han’s books. I’m a little bit of a sporadic reader, but whatever fits my mood, I’ll jump back into without issue.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Growing up, I read the Boxcar Children series and Harry Potter books, which I loved, but I remember reading “Wonder” by Rachel Vail and having this incredibly meaningful connection to reading a character who seemed so much like myself. Obviously I didn’t know it at the time, but it was the first opportunity I had to connect with a protagonist, and it really shaped the way I tell stories even today.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Oh wow, so many things, but I’ll pick the most recent ones: I laughed a few minutes ago at a meme my husband sent me, and I cried at the last USWNT game I watched — I get so emotional and proud watching women be strong and live their best lives, which is a little embarrassing but also true.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I strongly adhere to the “Don’t meet your heroes” mentality, especially when it comes to writers. We’re complicated creatures, usually introverted, and we find the best way to communicate is slowly and deliberately through our own craft. I just imagine meeting people I admire and being a blubbering idiot — I cringe at the thought.
However, I was lucky enough in college to have met Stephen Dunn, my favorite poet, and he was gracious and kind and everything I hoped he would be.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Reading, writing, and spending time with family takes up most of my spare time, but I do love to go hiking in the mountains and for bike rides around the city. I also try to travel outside of the U.S. as much as I can.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
When I’m in full “writing mode,” I try not to watch anything because it can be a huge time suck, but in the off-days, I love to watch sports — boxing, MMA, soccer, basketball, and extreme sports — along with travel shows, action movies, and sappy romantic comedies.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I think it’s either Japanese or Thai food. Or Mexican food — I make amazing quesadillas. Actually, I take that back because I found my new favorite restaurant in the PNW recently (i5 Pho Seattle), and it’s Vietnamese. Now I’m hungry…
Favorite color? Gray.
And as far as music, I usually stick to indie and alternative, especially when I’m writing, but I feel like I should mention that I create playlists for each book. For “New Wave,” each song reflected what was happening in that chapter, but for “Extended Summer,” I just created a general alternative playlist that Anna listens to while she’s at the pool. (They’re both on my website!)
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Definitely something with video (which requires more writing than you think, but still I’ll claim it here) because it’s another way to tell stories. I’ve been spending a lot of time in the past year working on my filming, lighting, and editing skills, and the process has been a lot of fun.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
With my family.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
I love how morbid these last two questions are! I read something a few years ago about how instead of getting buried or cremated in the traditional way, people are getting their ashes turned into fertilizer for trees and being planted somewhere. I’d love to do that instead.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Yes! My website is easy to remember — https://www.jenniferannshore.com and all of my social media profiles and other links are on the contact page.
I’ll always post updates to my website first and post back to it on my various profiles, most likely starting with my Instagram and Facebook page.
Amazon Authors page USA https://www.amazon.com/Jennifer-Ann-Shore/e/B07FZ6K2MZ/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1
Armen Pogharian said:
Spent nearly a decade in the ‘burgh and with two of my kids in college in Cleveland, I’ve spent quite bit there, too. I’ve only been to Seattle once, and it was a long time ago. I remember one sidewalk Mexican place that had the hottest food I’ve ever eaten. It was a few blocks from Pitt & CMU. Can’t remember the name – I turned 29 several decades ago. That said, glad to see the ‘burgh getting its due in a novel. Best of luck to you.