Monday, July 30, 2012

Author August: An Interview with Jessica McKendry

One thing that I have humbly learned over the years (all FORTY of them!) is that talent and generosity transcends age.  Since embarking on this writing journey, I have met so many talented people from all walks of life and all ages, and I am amazed at how giving they are of their time and talent.  One of those people is Jessica McKendry.  Jessica is an old soul with a knack for creating worlds that draw the reader in and force them to stay up late to turn just one more page...then one more...and one more. 

Jessica was kind enough to allow me to pose some questions and her thoughtful answers are here:

1.       What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?When I was ten... well... that was quite a while ago.  But it was probably Star Wars Attack of the Clones by R. A. Salvatore or Star Wars Revenge of the Sith by Matthew Stover.  (Yes, I admit to being a super Star Wars nut.)

2.       Do you think your early reading habits influenced what you write now?
Definitely.  Because of my early sci-fi and action/adventure habits, I honestly find it hard to write outside of those genres!  I guess that means I should read some different books!

3.       What character have you had a “book character crush” on?
Does Anakin Skywalker count?  I've always had a crush on him.

4.       Which of your characters do you feel the most kinship with, and why?
Definitely Jaina, my Main Character.  I mean, she's sixteen, so we'll be the same age in a few months.  How can I not feel a connection with her?  Although, she's less clumsy than I am, and not as awkward, either.

5.  You are a talented young writer, but do you feel like your youth is an asset or a hindrance as you pursue your goals?  Do you feel like you are taken seriously?
I guess it's a little bit of both.  It could be a hindrance, mostly because yes, some people won't take me seriously.  But it's also great because getting an early start on anything is great.  So I'd say it's more of an asset than hindrance.

6.       Do you plot out your stories or let your characters drag you on their adventure?
Well, I've written two full novels so far.  The first one I plotted it out completely before I wrote it.  The second, I mostly plotted before I wrote it.  But the last quarter I just sorta let it happen.

So, I'm not sure what my strategy is yet.  Maybe it depends on the story I'm telling.

7.       Where do you get your ideas for stories and characters?  Do your characters tend to come first or the plot line?
Ooh.  Tricky.  I get my ideas from just about everything.  I got the idea for my current story about four years ago.  It came as a mixture of Poptropica, Star Wars, 1984, The Hunger Games and a few other stories and life events.

And characters or plot line... again, it's hard to say.  I've only written two novels and they're part of a trilogy, so I count it as the same story.  Though for this story, I think the plot came first, then the characters.

8.       Are you publishing traditionally or indie, and what nudged you in that direction?
Indie.  For the plain and simple excuse of time.  I mean, I want my story to be as good as it can be, so I'm definitely not going to rush it.  But I want to still be a teen and a published author.  And finding a publisher or agent that's right for you could take a LONG TIME.  And I won't be a teen for much longer.  Besides, you have more freedom to do what you want and can keep it the story you want it to be.

9.       What part of writing is hardest for you?
Descriptions.  Imagery.  Yep, that's the hardest part for me.  I think I've got dialogue down pretty well, but there's only a number of times you can say "she smiled."  "he laughed."  Thinking of new ways to describe things is so difficult for me.

10.   What is your currently work in progress about?Thank goodness we're not doing this interview in person!  I always choke when someone asks me that. 

Okay so here's a brief summary:

They are chosen at birth.  The ones who are strong.  They are the gifted.

Trained to be highly skilled in both physical and mental abilities, they have potential to become a Superior.  They could live out their lives in the Crystal City, the richest, and by far the most beautiful city in the galaxy.  But becoming Superior has a deadly price to pay.

To gain the title, they must all survive the Trials.

Jaina Indera has been training at a Gifted School for sixteen years, waiting for her moment to prove herself worthy of competing in the Trials.  Those who choose not to compete or don’t make the competition will me marked as Inferior.

Yet being selected a competitor is only the beginning.  Each school sends a team of eight students to compete in a battle of both physical and mental challenges against other Gifted Schools around the galaxy.

Not all will survive.

In a world where mercy is a weakness, and only the ruthless prevail, Jaina must discover who she is and what she’s really fighting for.

I am grateful for Jessica to agree to this interview and to share some of her insight with us.  (I always like having a window into writers' creative process!  I am nosey like that.)  Take a moment to check out Jessica's blog and offer some encouragement to this up and coming author!