Jennifer Armintrout Interview
Publication Date: July 4, 2007
Jennifer is author of the popular Blood Ties series.
Give us an update on yourself. What's your latest news?
I think this might actually be an "exclusive" for you guys. For the longest time I've been saying the Blood Ties series will be a five-book series, but for various reasons I wasn't happy with that plan and my publisher agreed that four books are just as good as five. So expect to see the conclusion of Carrie Ames's story in June of 2008, when Blood Ties Book Four: All Souls' Night is released.
What's your upcoming or latest book/story about?
Ashes to Ashes finds Carrie, Nathan, Max, Bella and Cyrus fighting against the Oracle, who was introduced in Possession. The Oracle is one of the most evil, ancient and powerful vampires on the planet who has unfortunately joined forces with the Soul Eater to help him achieve his demented goal of god-hood. The reader is going to get a lot of information about the origins of the fight between werewolves and lupins, more background on Cyrus and his father, and a lot of insight into Dahlia's mind and how she works. I'm really excited to see how this one is received by readers!
How did you come up with the title?
Well, the title was really inspired by a key plot point in the book, so this question will answer itself as you read it.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer, and what inspired you to start writing?
I started writing when I realized I would never be responsible enough to hold a nine-to-five type of job. My grandmother, Peggy Hanchar, wrote a ton of books and was pretty popular in historical romance circles back in the eighties and nineties, and she brought up the idea to me when I was in college.
When did you write your first book?
Right after I flunked out of college. Before then, I'd written a lot of fan fiction but never anything original, and I found it surprisingly easier to create an entirely new world than trying to figure out a new reason for the Predators to come to my town and hunt down my coworkers at McDonalds.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I really wanted to be a star on Broadway. To this day I still try out for community theatre productions, because I really enjoy acting. There's not a very big difference between the two professions, really, because in both you're telling made-up stories for the entertainment of others.
What projects are you working on now?
Right now I'm working to finish All Souls' Night and planning post-Blood Ties projects.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I'm very fond of karaoke and listening to musicals, watching Detroit Tigers baseball and cheering on my main man Kenny Rogers, having the occasional midnight tea party under the stars and spending time with my amazing family and friends. I'm also currently learning American Sign Language, so anyone who reads this and knows ASL can come to a book signing and quiz me.
What does your family think of your writing?
They are not surprisingly unimpressed. In my family, someone could become President of the United States, and that would be as amazing to everyone as someone being promoted to assistant manager at Wal-Mart. It's not that they're not supportive, because they definitely are, but I was raised that what a person does isn't quite as important as their character, and whether they have good moral values. The only real difference I've seen is that my grandfather reads the books and now considers vampires tougher than alligators.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Depends, really. I've whipped off a book in a month, but usually I need two or three. In any case, the time usually evens out to about the same for each book. If I spend three months really concentrating on a book, I get less revisions and spend less time working at that stage. If I finish a book in a month, then I can expect to spend more time revising and reworking it. Either way, I end up feeling like I spent a ton of time and didn't get much for my effort.
What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
Surprisingly unstructured. I usually get up, blunder about the house like a drunken wildebeest until I've had enough caffeine to pry my eyelids open, sit down, screw around on the internet, maybe go outside and chat up my neighbors, then sit down and write. Other days, I run around all day doing other stuff and then stay up late writing. That's the good thing about the job. You have a lot of freedom.
Do you have an interesting writing quirk?
I don't know if it's interesting, but I find that massive quantities of alcohol help. No, just kidding. I have tons of post-its with ideas or important things I need to remember taped all over my desk and the walls of my office, and I tend to leave my outlines all over the house. Tonight, a friend was over for dinner, and she sat down and picked up a paper that said THIS IS HOW BLOOD TIES ENDS written on it and she said she was sorely tempted to ruin the end of the series for herself.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
I have no clue where my ideas come from. I just hope they don't stop showing up, because someday my son will need to go to college.
What do you think makes a good story?
I think any time you can forget that the characters aren't real people, the events never took place, that's a good story. Because it's such an amazing feeling to get drawn in to a world so deeply.
What was one of the most surprising things you've learned in creating your books?
I'm really surprised at how attached people are to the characters. Now that books one and two are on the shelves, I've really found myself wondering if the way I'm writing a particular plot line will be well received by readers, or if they'll feel disappointed in any way by the unfolding events. I think about all the times I've been disappointed by a series of books or on television, and I don't want to do that to fans.
Do you have a specific writing style?
Not that I'm aware of.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
My number one problem is forcing myself to focus. And also to not kill off all of my characters because I'
;m bored of writing them.
How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite?
There are three books finished so far in the Blood Ties series, but I've written two others that are yet to be published. My favorite is one of the unpublished ones.
Who or what has influenced your writing?
I keep a shelf of books I really, really loathe and despise, and they influence me. I look at that shelf, remember every cliché and ridiculous character and I vow not to let myself write like that!
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I honesty really, really adore Herman Melville right now. That's not a sexy answer, I know, but I like his work because when you read it, you get the feeling of excitement that he felt about what he was writing, and the sense that he wasn't just writing to pay the bills, but to tell a story that was very important to him. That enthusiasm is really catching, and you find yourself caring deeply for his characters because he cares deeply for them.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I don't know if I'd say I have a mentor. Certainly, I owe a lot to my grandmother, Peggy Hanchar, and to Bryn Paulin, Cheryl Sterling and Bronwyn Green, but I also consider myself a loner. Any mentoring I've had I've probably fought every step of the way.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I'm fairly new myself, so I can't really answer that very well, but I will say that Lyn Randall's "Warrior or Wife" was a really, really great read.
Who designs the covers of your books?
I have no idea. Somebody who is better at art than I am.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I hear from readers a lot. I actually feel bad that I can't respond to all my fan mail. I really love hearing what they think of the books. It's really funny, I get a lot of email from teenagers who say, "I don't like to read, but I like your books." While I'm a little weirded out by the idea of kids in high school reading my books, I'm also really moved by the idea that someone who wouldn't normally read picking up my book and enjoying reading for maybe the first time, and that could open them up to reading more than they would have. One kid was really sweet, he came to one of my book signings and said he had all the guys on his soccer team reading them. That just made my day.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Just thanks for reading and I hope they enjoy book three!
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Finish the manuscripts you start working on, because you won't take yourself seriously as a writer until you do.