Jul 232013

Interview: Jenna Black + Giveaway

What are your thoughts on ebooks? (i.e. love them, hate them, wave of the future)
I have very mixed feelings about ebooks. There are times when I love them. I love not having to guess how many books to bring with me when I’m traveling–I can take my Kindle with me and have access to as many books as I need. I love the instant gratification of being able to download a book immediately after it catches my attention. (It’s especially nice with series, when I get to the end of a book and am absolutely dying to find out what happens next.) Another thing I like about them is that I can try new-to-me authors at my leisure without having piles of unread books stacked up all over the house. (Of course, I have said piles of books, both read and unread, anyway.)

But although I enjoyed my Kindle when I first got it, I still find that I enjoy print books better. There’s something about the feel of a print book in my hands, about the tactile experience of turning the pages, and of having a beautiful cover that I can display on my bookshelf . . . Ebooks, as convenient as they are, just don’t have that for me. I also find it’s harder for me to remember the ebooks I’ve read than it is for me to remember the print books. I think it’s just that with the print books, I’m constantly seeing the cover and title and author name, and that creates a visual memory that reading the text by itself just doesn’t do.

Do you read reviews written about your books?
When I was first published, I couldn’t resist reading every review I could find. I even did Google searches to find them. But I quickly found that reading reviews is not good for me. Like many other authors, my self-confidence is always teetering on the brink of a chasm. It doesn’t take much to nudge me over, and having a crisis of confidence seriously damages my efforts to write the next book. It’s not that I can’t take criticism–I’d never survive my revision letters if I couldn’t–but it’s much easier to process when it’s about something I can fix. A book that’s already been released is no longer fixable, and therefore the only thing I can do with the criticism is start doubting myself. So no, I don’t read reviews if I can help it. (Although if I know a review exists, I have a hard time not reading it. In this case, ignorance is bliss.)

Do you write books from page 1 to the end, or do you jump around?
I almost always write books completely sequentially. I feel like if I write a scene out of order, it doesn’t have the steady base I need to build upon. I suspect that most of the time, if I write out of order, I’ll end up having to completely rewrite the scene because when I go back and fill in the parts before it, too much will have changed. That said, I did deviate from my usual process for a while with REPLICA. There was a point in the book where I got terribly stuck. It was kind of early on, and I still had a lot of questions about the plot and how it was going to work out. I found myself wanting to jump out of my chair the moment I sat down to write, and what I did write came out feeling clunky and forced. Which usually doesn’t bother me–I can fix that in the next draft–but it was sucking all the joy out of writing the story. So I decided to go ahead and write a scene that was going to take place a little later. A scene where I knew exactly what was going to happen. It worked perfectly for me. I was immediately able to get into the flow of writing the scene (for those who are curious, it’s the scene where Nadia steals the locket), and after that, I was able to go back and write the stuff that came in between with relative ease.

I don’t see this becoming a regular practice for me, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned over all the years I’ve been writing it’s never to say never. My process changes from book to book, and things that have never worked for me before suddenly become the key to my WIP. I’ve just got to be open-minded and willing to take a chance when I get stuck.

What types of prewriting activities do you do? (i.e. research, outlines)
As a general rule, I hate prewriting. I am not the patient type, and once I have a story idea in mind, I want to take off running with it. I will generally brainstorm to come up with a plot (things like figuring out my heroine is going to escape from a dungeon at the end) without bothering with specifics (like how the heck she’s going to do that). With some books, I get a pretty firm outline in mind from doing this brainstorming, but with some I only get a feel for the shape of the action and a firm feel for where the beginning, middle, and end are.

I have not yet written a book that requires research in the prewriting stage. I won’t say I never will, because I know better than to say never, but I don’t see it happening any time soon. As I mentioned previously, I tend to be pretty impatient to get started when I have a new idea, and the last thing I want to do is delay the actual writing part with lots of research. When I need to do research for a book, I tend to do that in between writing sessions. That way I don’t rush through the research in a big hurry to get to what I find to be the fun part. (I know there are a lot of people out there who enjoy research, but I am definitely not one of them!)

What’s your favourite part of writing a book?
I love writing the big, climactic action scenes at the ends of my books. I’m always most comfortable with my writing when I’m feeling very secure about what will happen next, and by the time I get to the big finish, I have worked everything out. For example, I now know exactly how the heroine is going to escape from the dungeon. At this point, writing feels almost like reading to me–like I can’t possibly put the book down because I absolutely must know what happens next. (Even though I do know what happens next.) That is by far my favorite part of writing a book, and I write fast and obsessively when I get to it.

About Jenna Black

Jenna Black is your typical writer. Which means she’s an “experience junkie.” She got her BA in physical anthropology and French from Duke University.

Once upon a time, she dreamed she would be the next Jane Goodall, camping in the bush making fabulous discoveries about primate behavior. Then, during her senior year at Duke, she did some actual research in the field and made this shocking discovery: primates spend something like 80% of their time doing such exciting things as sleeping and eating.

Concluding that this discovery was her life’s work in the field of primatology, she then moved on to such varied pastimes as grooming dogs and writing technical documentation. She writes paranormal romance for Tor and urban fantasy for Bantam Dell.

Interview: Jenna Black + GiveawayReplica (Replica #1) by Jenna Black
Published by Tor Teen on Jul 16, 2013
Genres: Dystopia, YA
Find the book: Amazon, Goodreads

Sixteen-year-old Nadia Lake comes from a high-class Executive family in the Corporate States. Her marriage has been arranged with the most powerful family in her state, which means she lives a life of privilege but also of public scrutiny, followed everywhere by photographers, every detail of her private life tabloid fodder. But her future is assured, as long as she can maintain her flawless public image — no easy feat when your betrothed is a notorious playboy.

Nathan Hayes is the heir of Paxco — controller of the former state of New York, and creator of human replication technology, science that every state and every country in the world would kill to have. Though Nadia and Nate aren’t in love, they’ve grown up close, and they (and the world) are happy enough with their match.

Until Nate turns up dead, and as far as everyone knows, Nadia was the last person to see him alive.

When the new Nate wakes up in the replication tanks, he knows he must have died, but with a memory that only reaches to his last memory backup, he doesn’t know what killed him. Together, Nadia and Nate must discover what really happened without revealing the secrets that those who run their world would kill to protect.

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  3 Responses to “Interview: Jenna Black + Giveaway”

  1. It’s true that ebooks don’t build up like physical ones do and for that reason they’re great for travel (though you can’t have them on during takeoff and landing, which is when I need to read the most!), but I never really feel like ebooks belong to me.

  2. The idea behind being replicated is an interesting one. I think it would be great if I could keep replicating myself to maintain a youthful, strong presence for hundreds of years and be able to finally read all the books I want without worrying about running out of time! Of course, the memories would need to transfer…

    Re: e-books. There is one advantage you may not have thought of. Those of us with arthritis in our hands sometimes find it hard to hold a physical book and turn the pages for long periods of time, whereas an e-book is light, comfortable to hold, and easy to flip to the next page. It also precludes that habit I have of flipping to the back to find out how it ends before I even begin… *laugh*

    • I find that ebooks are much easier on my wrists. I have chronic tendonitis, and holding heavy hardcovers kills them. The lightweight, non-page-turning characteristics are huge pluses for me.

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