This week I've got Jenelle Schmidt, author of King's Warrior, sitting down for an interview. Let's see what she has to say.
1. Please tell us about yourself.
I grew up in the Western Chicago suburbs. I now reside in North Carolina where I melt in the summer and miss the snow terribly in the winter. I write fantasy and science fiction novels.
Besides writing, I have been an English teacher, a play director, a math teacher, and currently am working super hard as a stay-at-home-mom/author. I also play frisbee and soccer, root for the Cubs (despite the fact that they let me down year after year), love downhill skiing and riding horses and (as Ratty says in “The Wind in the Willows” “messing about in boats.” Unfortunately, I don’t get to do any of these things nearly as often as I would like.
2. What's the name of your newest or latest book and what's it about?
King’s Warrior is a story about a headstrong, adventurous princess who is sent on a quest to find the one man who can help save her kingdom from invasion. Traveling with her are her eccentric maid and a young squire who resents his charge to protect the princess, as he would much rather stay with the knights and face the enemy. When they meet Brant, they discover that their adventure has only just begun. He is a man shrouded in mystery, and they are not sure whether or not they quite trust him, but the hope of their world rests on the steel he wears at his side.
This Spring, I hope to release the prequel to King’s Warrior, a book entitled Second Son, which reveals Brant’s origin story.
3. Is this book part of a series or standalone?
King’s Warrior can stand alone just fine, it is a contained story, with a definite beginning, middle, and a very satisfying end. However, it is also part of a four-book series.
4. How long have you been writing?
I have loved books and stories for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories revolve around listening to my dad reading stories out loud (or making up stories) to my siblings and me before bedtime. I started writing stories almost as soon as I learned to write. I recently discovered a short “story” I wrote when I was six or seven about my little brother, so apparently I began writing pretty early. I dabbled in writing poetry and short stories, and even a longer sci-fi novel through high-school, but the thing that really set me on a “career” of writing was my father’s challenge to me in college to write an adventure story (and finish it!) during the summer between my freshman and sophomore year.
5. From where or whom do you draw inspiration?
That is a hard question. Inspiration is a hard thing to nail down. Sometimes it comes in the form of an experience, other times it’s in a certain line of music that hits me just right, other times it’s something I see. Many times, though, inspiration arrives in the form of pictures in my mind, my own imagination, I guess. I often find that my best ideas hit me just as I’ve gotten perfectly comfortable in bed and am about to fall asleep - which is why I keep a notebook and pen on my nightstand.
6. What advice would you give new or aspiring writer?
1. Write. Write often, write about everything you see, keep a notebook nearby and jot down anything that catches your imagination
2. Read. Become an expert in the type of story you like to write. Read outside your genre.
3. Learn how to accept negative criticism without getting defensive. Negative reviews/comments are what can help you polish your skills.
7. Who do you see as your ideal reader?
I’m not sure I understand the question. If you’re asking about target audience, then I guess the answer is: anyone who loves reading adventures. I wrote my books for my father to read out loud to my family each evening after supper. My target audience was myself, my high-school aged brothers, my 11 year old sister, and my parents. The age-range my book was designed to appeal to is pretty broad.
8. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a planner or outliner?
I prefer to dive straight into writing... but I have discovered the wisdom of planning. My first few books I dove into with reckless abandon, and paid dearly for it in editing later on down the road. Now, I spend a lot more time planning out the story: outlining, world-building, character-creating, before I ever start writing. It’s more work at the front end, and I sometimes find it tedious, but it’s better than having to do massive re-writes later on.
9. Are you a "write every day of the week" sort of writer or do you take days off?
I definitely take days off. As a stay-at-home mom of two young daughters, I can’t always find time to write. I do try to write something at least every weekday. I have to pick and choose wisely, though, because I always have a couple of novels waiting for me to write the next page, and others that are finished that need another pass of editing... so nothing gets done as quickly as I’d like!
10. Some people feel indie authored books are of lesser quality than those that go through the traditional publishers. Do you agree with them? If so, how can independent authors raise the bar and remove this stigmatism?
It depends on the book and the author. Unfortunately, with indie books you never know exactly what you’re going to get. You might get a beautiful book with fabulous formatting and zero typos... but the writing style or the story is rubbish. On the flip side, you might get an excellent story, but the book has some major formatting flaws.
I think if you’re going to self-publish, you have to be hyper critical of your own work (or have someone in your life with an excellent eye for detail). Thankfully, I have a very detail-oriented husband who helped me with the formatting of my book. I think he drove my cover artist a little crazy (in a good way), because she would send us a draft of the cover and he would blow it up to 900% and pick on a single pixel that was out of place. But honestly, that’s the sort of nit-picking we need to do for our own work, as indie-authors, because the traditionally published authors have teams of people doing that sort of thing for them.
11. Assuming you have an active blog, point readers to a post of which you're especially proud or think will be of particular interest to them.
Probably my favorite blog post I’ve ever written is this one: http://jenelleschmidt.com/the-importance-of-prologues/ I don’t know that it would be of particular interest to anyone not in (or not knowing someone in) this sort of situation, but it meant a lot to me.
12. Which retailers or others sites can readers find your work at?
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kindle
13. Where can readers find out more about you?
They can come to my website: http://jenelleschmidt.com .
Jenelle grew up the oldest of four children. Every night before bedtime her father read to her and her siblings, and it was during these times that her love for adventure and fantasy were forged. While she adored the stories of the Lord of the Rings, the Chronicles of Prydain, the Wheel of Time, and the Chronicles of Narnia; it wasn’t long before her imagination led her to the creation of a world and story all her own.
In 2001, Jenelle completed King’s Warrior, originally titled The Dragon’s Eye, as a project for her father who wanted something new and fun to read to the family at night. This first endeavor gave way to the completion of a four book series that is full of the same adventure that Jenelle grew to love in literature as a little girl. Jenelle graduated from Taylor University in Indiana in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in English Education.
Jenelle has written numerous short stories and many poems, as well as some full length work within the realm of science fiction. King’s Warrior is her first published work and she is currently working on bringing the rest of the series to public availability. Jenelle lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with her husband Derek and two little girls Leiana Arwen and Nathalie Eowyn.