I think I met Jenna a number of years ago at some conference or other but I've read some of her books and enjoyed them. We've also been friendly competetors in Dream Realm awards.
1. What's your genre or do you write in more than one?
I write almost exclusively in the fantasy genre. I write about all sorts of mythical and mystical beings, including elves and vampires. I always have magic of some kind in my books. The only time I've really deviated from fantasy is for picture books, and I guess those could be considered fantasy in their own way.
2. Did you choose your genre or did it choose you?
I think it chose me. I remember having a very vivid imagination as a child. I used to cut out paper dolls from the Sears, Wards and Pennys catalogs. I created multi-dimensional homes for the dolls, furnished them with odds and ends from around the house. I had trolls, too (those little plastic dolls with the big, bright eyes and long, colorful hair) and I used to take them outside and make villages from the dry spots in the grass. I played in the tall grass in the alley behind my grandmother's house, as well, creating hidden forts and pathways filled with magical beings and stories. So, from earliest on, I dwelled in the land of fantasy. I was always drawn to fantastical creatures as well, and magic of all kinds.
3. Is there any genre you'd like to try? Or is there one you wouldn't?
I have tried to write in other genres, but magic always finds the way into the book. I don't think I would ever want to write pure realism. I will probably never, ever pen an Oprah book. I have written from picture books for children all the way to violent erotica. But always, always, there is a happy ending and magic.
4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?
I read mostly non-fiction, to be honest. I love National Geographic and Time. But when I do read for pleasure, I read mostly fantasy of some kind. I don't care for horror at all. I can do some mystery, but it needs to be cozy mystery.
5. Tell me a bit about yourself and how long you've been writing,
I started writing when I was 12. At least, that's my most pronounced memory. It was a class assignment. We had to research and write about an animal of some kind. We even had to do the illustrations. I chose a clam. I still have that book, tattered and forlorn as it is. I progressed from there to writing fan fiction from my favorite show - Star Trek. My friend and I used to spend a lot of time writing little snippits of fan fiction and reading it to each other. All during high school, I honed my craft in English classes. Then in college, I majored in English, again submitting my work to fellow classmates. Once out of college, I married and busied myself with children for many years. I toyed with the writing in those days, going to a class every once and a while, joining a crit group. In fact, I started working on the first book in my series while still in college. I worked and reworked and reworked it dozens of times over the years. It wasnt' until I changed the main character to an elf that things really stated to fall into place. I wrote the entire first book in less than a week. Books 2 and 3 were just about as quick, although I didn't start out thinking about writing a trilogy at all. After that, the books continued to come. I have written 26 books in that series alone. I have done more outside of that. So, it's been a long time, years of writing, years of escaping into an alternate reality, one which I've come to know very, very well.
6. Which of your characters is your favorite?
That's like asking which child is your favorite! LOL I can't pick just one. They all have their endearments. In the Guardians of Glede series, I like Jansson van Tannen for his humor and wit. I like Treyas Beckering Merripen for his sensitivity to issues. I like Kyel Sylvain for his power and intellect. In the Blood Bred series, I like the vampires (Jaeger, Baris and Adan) for their strengths and weaknesses. In the stand alones - Nitesh, The Faery Sickness, Free Spirit - I like my female protags (Diesa, Thalassa, Vala) for their ability to stand firm in times of upheaval and crisis. So, no, I can't pick just one. They are all my favorites.
7. Are there villains in your books and how were they created?
Of course, there are villains. They have to be villains to further the plot. I would guess they are created from the evils of society. I have often heard that villains need to have a reaon for their evilness. But sometimes, in reading the paper and the news, I see people who are evil just because they are. They have no endearing qualities at all. They have no reason for their hatred and the horror they spew. They just do it. And they seem to revel in it. I use that. Some of my villains are, indeed, either misunderstood or misguided. But some are just evil with no redeeming qualities at all.
8. What are you working on now? I am working on a fantasy adventure with humor. Lots of humor. I hope. I am also working on the 27th book in the Guardians of Glede series.
9. What's your latest release and how did the idea arrive?
My last release was the 10th book in the Glede series, I believe. It was spawned from the actions of the characters in preceeding books. But I also take current events and weave those into the books. Slavery seems to be a recurring theme, as I strongly disagree with it. And Book 10 - River of Evil - deals with captivity and the wrongness of it.
10. Tell me about your latest book and how it came about. Enclose the opening of the book around 400 words.
First 400 words of River Of Evil. The book starts off innocently, normal daily life. Of course, things never work out as planned.
Elfin Prince Thomlin Merripen smoothed his blue satin tunic and scrutinized the bouquet of yellow flowers he clutched. Satisfied there were no dead leaves, he squared his shoulders, took a deep breath and stepped into the TravelPortal, manipulating the TravelStrands to take him to the Ravenscroft, Bailiwycke, and the seaside cottage of his 'Uncle' Quinlin Thomarius.
He arrived in the Portal vestibule a moment later. Quinlin, a tall well-built elf, looked up from the sea charts strewn across his desk. "Hoi! Happy Birthday, Thoms! My, my," he exclaimed, his green eyes twinkling. "Don't you look nice? But you're about two hours early for the Spring Birthday Festival. It doesn't start until three."
"I know," Thomlin replied. "I wanted to talk with Enid. Where is she?"
"She's down on the beach with Reya, Keelin and the children," Quinlin said.
"Mmmm, what a wonderful smell!" Quinlin's wife, the wizard Drisana, stepped into the study. "Ah! Karsaban Yellow Star Clusters! My favorite." She crossed the room to take another deep breath of the highly fragrant flowers, then glanced at Quinlin. "You used to bring me Star Clusters. It's been awhile since I've seen some."
Quinlin grunted, reseating himself at the desk. "That's because I can't use magic to fetch them. I have to climb for them."
"I climbed for these, too," Thomlin said quickly. "I didn't want to use magic for this bouquet. But I need a yellow ribbon. Do you have one, Aunt Drisana?"
"See?" Drisana said teasingly to her husband. "At least the romance hasn't faded from their relationship." She looked back at Thomlin. "Yes, I have a yellow ribbon. Come along."
Quinlin grimaced, whispering to Thomlin as he passed. "Now, look what you've done."
Thomlin winced. "I didn't mean to –"
"Ah! Forget it! I'll make it up to her later," Quinlin said with a wink and a grin.
Thomlin frowned, puzzled, but followed Drisana to her room. She opened a drawer, revealing an array of different colored ribbons.
"Are these all Reya's?" Thomlin asked in amazement.
"They were. Now, her two girls wear them. Here." Drisana drew out a bright yellow satin ribbon.
Thomlin took it and tied it loosely about the flower stems. "Yellow is Enid's favorite color," he mumbled, looking at his work worriedly. "But do you think this is too much? Maybe I should go with a white ribbon. What do you think?"
"I think yellow is beautiful," Drisana said with a trace of a smile. "It'll look lovely in her hair as well."
Still, Thomlin hesitated, his heart pounding. It had to be perfect. Today it had to be perfect. "What color is she wearing today? Maybe I should match the ribbon."
"She's wearing yellow and white," Drisana told him, amusement dancing in her amber eyes. "Now, quit stalling." She pushed him toward the front door of the large cottage.
"I'm not st--" Thomlin started, then broke off, blushing. He turned to the diminutive woman next to him. "Gods, Aunt Drisana, I'm really nervous."
"Why? You've asked Enid to marry you how many times now?"
"Every month for the last three years," Thomlin replied. "And her answer is always the same. Ask me when you're a man. Well, now I'm eighteen. What if that's not yet a man to her? What if she says no?"
Drisana sighed and kissed his cheek. "Then I'll be here to talk to. Now, go on."