A: For those unfamiliar with you and your work, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
JL: I've been writing for 9 years full time. I have 6 children, one has autism. Much of my life figures into my work in various shades.
A: After reading Heavenly, I walked away feeling like you shined a positive light on autism. Was that an intentional message in writing the Heavenly?
JL: Definitely. It took me YEARS to not want to slug people for their oft-times rude, completely unsympathetic reactions to my daughter and what our family was going through when we went out in public with her. Now, I ignore the gawking. I hoped, in some small way, by writing about how uncontrollable some kids with autism are that folks would have their eyes opened just a titch. More than the annoying way strangers react to the handicapped, I wrote about a handicapped person ( again after years of soul-searching for my own answers ) to shed a possible light on why these special people grace our world. To teach us.
A: You've said before that Heavenly and Falling for Romeo are both true to your real life. Is there anything from A Season of Eden that you drew from personal experience?
JL: I grew up in Palos Verdes, California and love the area, so I love to include it in my work. I was an only child much like Eden, though my parents weren't divorced and I wasn't the kind of social-type Eden is. But a lot of the little things in that book came from my life in Palos Verdes: parties, teachers, the choir experience....but not the crush on the choir teacher.
A: Do you avoid reading negative reviews on websites like Goodreads? If not, how do you deal with criticism?
JL: Unless a reader sends me their review, I don't read reviews. Reading is subjective. What appeals to one, won't appeal to another and you can't please everyone. As an indie author, I will continue to write and publish no matter what anybody says, because I control my career, not some huge publishing house somewhere. It's a beautiful thing :)
A: If you could choose any child actor, past or present, to play Abria, who would you choose?
JL: Yikes. Not sure any child COULD capture the many nuances of Abria. She's so complex. Any suggestions?
A: Was there a particular scene in Heavenly or Penitence that was difficult for you to write?
JL: The scenes with Luke were most difficult because the character is taken from my son. At least I was able to control the outcome, whereas in real life, his struggle often stole my muse I was so worried about whether or not he'd survive from day-to-day.
A: Is there anything you would say to someone who is non-religious to encourage them to give Heavenly a shot?
JL: One of the things I hear most about Heavenly is how non-pushy it is pertaining to religion. I'm not trying to force anything down anyone with these books, this is MY life, and my struggle with how I came to understand some lovely concepts that I believe exist: guardian angels to watch over us and that the handicapped really are very blessed individuals who, within their protective state, go through life not having to deal with a lot of the junk we normal mortals end up bringing upon ourselves based on our choices. This isn't anyone's doctrine, just my conclusions. As my children have grown, made choices ( Like Luke, to use drugs, and Zoe to abuse alchohol ) I've thanked God that "Abria" is safe from all that. There's a certain peace in that.
A: In Penitence, you gave Weston the opportunity to redeem himself. Were you worried about how your readers would react to this?
JL: Not at all worried. I'm confident in my writing, or I wouldn't have tried to pull it off. I LOVE changing characters and, in the HEAVENLY series, it's all about choices, change and redemption.
A: When you began writing Heavenly, did you already know you would turn it into a trilogy?
JL: Once Albert came along, I knew there would be more.
A: Which of your characters is most like you?
JL: Hmmm. There are bits of me in all of my characters. I'm not wholly Debbie ( Zoe's mom ) but our family life at home is solid like that.
A: What can we look forward to in Absolution?
JL: A happy ending that is necessary and satisfying.
A: How about, Overprotected?
JL: This is the first story I ever wrote, re-written for the millionth time, lol. Can't wait to get it out there, I adore the complex story. It's more than what it sounds like, with some great, interesting characters who-once again-have to deal with the consequences of their choices. ( a theme I like writing about because it's real )
A: Has there ever been a time when you considered giving up on writing?
JL: No, I just decided to make it happen for myself.
A: How is it, being self-published?
JL: The correct term is indie - or at least the PC term, lol. Yep, I am. I had two agents and spent 4 years doing the NYC publishing thing and decided to go my own way. I love being indie. Maybe it's because I'm an only child and controlaholic, but I like having the control. Like it says on my FB and blog: I write what I want. I don't have someone looking over my shoulder telling me what I should or shouldn't write. I listen to my heart, the center of my muse. Not a lot of writers get that luxury when they are owned by publishing houses. And, for me at least, it still comes down to the fact that I write for the love of it, not for money.
A: And finally, is there any advice you have for writers?
JL: Write for the love of it and, at the end of each day, you'll always be satisfied with your accomplishment.
Thanks for the interview Jennifer!! I had fun w/ the questions!
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