Jennifer Carson Interview
We talk to one of the women behind Pugalicious Press about submissions, her love of faerie and the new TIMELESS anthology of YA historical fiction and romance. With steampunk bits in it.
Please note: Picking up a copy of TIMELESS will only cost you £1.99 in the UK and $3.12 in the US.
How did you get into writing professionally?
I kind of fell into it. I’ve always been a highly creative person and an avid reader. One day my boys were outside playing and I was drawing as I was keeping an eye on them. I just happened to be practicing how to draw dragons and my, at the time 7 year old, son peeked over my shoulder and asked me how dragons got their fire breath. Like any modern mom, I went searching on the internet for an origin story, but, since the internet was relatively new at this point, I didn’t find one. That night, I woke up about 4 am and had this fabulous dragon in my head, telling me his story. That was the beginning of TO FIND A WONDER, which was published by a small press in 2009, six years after my son asked me that burning question. I haven’t put my pen down since!
You’re drawn to fairieland, aren’t you? I can tell. How? Why? What happens when you go there?
Ah, faerieland, where everything is possible, and nothing is as it seems. I am drawn to the faerie world because things are not perfect there. Yes, that little glowing faerie may look beautiful, but she has very sharp teeth. The little mushroom by the tree, it’s not really a mushroom. I love the personification of the world around us. I believe it bolsters our humanity when we think of other living creatures as having, for lack of a better word, souls.
How does your approach to writing change when you’re writing short stories like A LIGHT OF VICTORY and full novels like HAPENNY MAGICK?
With a short story, just like poetry and picture books, every word has to be there for a reason, every sentence has to count. With novels you have a little more time to draw the reader into your world, to expose them to its culture. So, I guess, I’m a little more ruthless when it comes to self-editing a short story versus a novel.
The TIMELESS Anthology of Young Adult Historical Romance is available as an eBook worldwide. It may or may not include Steampunk. Okay – it does.
In your short story for the TIMELESS anthology, A LIGHT OF VICTORY, you evoke past eras beautifully, from food to the way people talk. As a writer, how do you tap into times other than your own?
Have you ever felt like you were born in the wrong century? That’s me. I love period films and stories and immersing myself in those worlds helps me to figure out how my own characters would behave and react. I also love to go to Renaissance festivals and living history museums,etc. That helps too. Bess, of course, the main character in A LIGHT OF VICTORY, had to make a choice that I wouldn’t want anyone to have to make in any time period.
At one point, innkeeper’s daughter Bess tells foul ostler Frasier: “My sympathy for your poor upbringing ended when you began to feel entitled to more than your fair share”. I love this line. I love it when YA protagonists assert their boundaries and expect to have those boundaries respected. Have you noticed any messages or thoughts about life you tend to put across in your work?
I tend to make my characters fight for the freedom to choose their own life path while struggling with what they feel are their responsibilities, and often the theme of pulling together to improve the state of your community pops up too.
Mr. Gibbons and Frasier the ostler are such foul creations. Did it make you feel a little ill to write about them?
No – I actually had fun writing Gibbons because he was so foul. Frasier was a little different – he did give me the creeps, but I loved him for it.
Did you fall a little in love with Nicholas, the one who’s stolen Bess’s heart? Do YA authors always fall a little in love with their love interest protagonists?
I think if you don’t fall in love with your character’s love interest, then you haven’t done your job as a storyteller. And yes, I love that rake, Nicholas. Now if only I could get my husband in tight breeches and a cloak… =0)
What do you personally feel young adults benefit from reading about, apart from love?
I think our society has gotten so far from each other as a whole, that many of us feel isolated from people who care about us. It is nice to provide that example of community, of how community used to be, and how it could be again.
What projects are you working on for yourself? What projects are you working on for Pugalicious Press? Or are you gracefully merging to become one and the same, where you are the tail and Pugalicious is the wag?
I’m currently working on the sequel to HAPENNY MAGICK, which is called TANGLED MAGICK. I’m also trying to finish a design book that my sewing pattern fans are currently knocking the gate down for. I also have a YA fantasy outlined and in the wings. I am also working on three titles for Pugalicious, HOW TO SURVIVE ANCIENT SPELLS AND CRAZY KINGS by Laura Pauling, FREEDOM PEN by Dionna Mann and DEADWOOD by Kell Andrews, that are in their final stages before publication and reading anthology submissions for REAL GIRLS DON’T RUST. (Deadline is September 1st so get your short stories in!)
I’m hoping to keep my identity as a creative a little separate than my identity as an editor/publisher for Pug.I don’t want people to think I only do this to publish my own stories because I had the whole writing community in mind as I began to think about how I wanted to run Pugalicious and what it’s mission would be.
So many writers will want to know. What sort of submissions does Pugalicious Press look for?
A clean, well written story that pulls the reader in right away… I know, that is vague, isn’t it? Ok – a little more detail about what I personally look for. I love submissions that surprise me with the author’s creativity. I love a little humor too and a main character who is spunky, but not rude. Give me a main character who is a little quirky. An MC who sees the world a little differently than everyone else. An MC who might not believe in him/herself at first, but blossoms into the hero. I love characters that anyone, regardless of age, can connect with and say “I want to be like him/her”. That’s what I like to see. =0)
What would be your dream goal as a writer? And, together with Joyce Shor Johnson, as one of the First Ladies of Pug?
Hmm… my dream goal as a writer. Writing is a labor of love for me. I really just want to write good stories, with good messages that people want to read and share with their friends and families. I want to surprise people with my creativity and I want to create a world so enchanting that readers will wish it was real. This is how I feel when I watch the older Muppet movies like Dark Crystal… I want to evoke that golden era of Jim Henson and the Froud’s working together. And, if a movie deal comes in at some point, that would be fabulous. Imagine getting to visit a world you created actually outside of your imagination!
My dream goal for Pugalicious– a great reputation for fabulous stories and amazing artists. One of my goals when I first started Pugalicious was also to take chances with stories I love from new writers and give authors a little more creative control with the manuscripts that they have worked so hard on. I guess this comes from my own artistic control issues! I’m just glad Joyce agreed with me 🙂
Is there anything I should have asked you but was simply too selfish to do so?
I don’t think so, thanks so much for the fabulous interview and thoughtful questions! So glad to have you in the Doghouse!
Interviews with other TIMELESS authors:
http://thestorytellersscroll.blogspot.co.uk/ – Interview with Magda Knight, Mookychick co-founder and editor
This is, hopefully, how Jennifer writes. She just sits on the nearest pretty rock and writes.
Jennifer Carson’s children’s fantasy Hapenny Magick is available in paperback an eBook.