Hey everyone! I’m really excited to have Jenna Black, author of Nightstruck (April 5, 2016 – Tor Teen) here for an interview! First, here’s more about the book:
The night is the enemy, and the city of Philadelphia is its deadliest weapon.
Becket is an ordinary teenage girl, wrestling with the upheaval of her parents’ divorce. Her biggest problems to date have been choosing which colleges to apply to, living up to her parents’ ambitious expectations of her, and fighting her secret crush on her best friend’s boyfriend. That all changes the night she tries to save an innocent life and everything goes horribly wrong.
Becket has been tricked into opening a door between worlds. As dark magic trickles into Philadelphia, strange creatures roam the streets and inanimate objects come to life, all of them bloodthirsty and terrifying. The city returns to normal when the sun rises each morning. The moment the sun sets, most citizens shut themselves in their houses and stay there no matter what they hear.
The magic is openly hostile to most mortals, but there are some it seems to covet, trying to lure them out into the night. While Becket struggles to protect her friends and family from predatory creatures of the night, she is constantly tempted to shrug off her responsibilities and join them.
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And now for the interview! Enjoy!
Question: Describe your book in ten words or less. Go!
Answer: The night has teeth. Literally. Stay inside!
Question: Now let’s talk about that plot – Epic doesn’t even begin to describe it! Where did you come up with the idea for Nightstruck?
Answer: I’ve played around with the idea of a setting that physically changes at night for years, the first iteration coming so many years ago that I don’t remember what triggered the idea. However, always before these changes had taken place in an imaginary world, and Nightstruck takes place in modern-day Philadelphia. I’ve been writing since I was a child, and sometimes I find that ideas I played with years or even decades ago are worth revisiting now that I have the skill set to tackle them.
Question: If you were in Becket’s shoes and stuck outside, would you survive the night?
Answer: Nope. I’m not a person who thinks particularly quickly or well during a time of crisis, and that would not bode well for me in the night version of Philadelphia.
Question: You’ve written a LOT of books! How do you continue coming up with such amazing ideas for new stories? How do you get through writer’s block and avoid burnout?
Answer: I come up with the ideas simply because that’s the way my mind works. I love thinking of “what if” scenarios, and those are the basis for my stories. I don’t really get anything I would describe as writer’s block (though I do sometimes get stuck on a plot point—usually how to get my protagonist out of the terrible jam I got her into). I do struggle with burnout sometimes. I love my job, but sometimes it’s very hard to be creative on command, and my energy starts to wane.
The best way to combat burnout is to have a life outside of your writing. I have quite a number of hobbies (ballroom dancing, golf, knitting, Zentangle drawing, to name a few), and those help a lot. Of course, when the burnout is particularly severe, those hobbies get awfully tempting … Really the only thing you can do is give yourself a break and hope to come back fresh.
Question: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in all your years of being a published author?
Answer: Dare to be bad! It’s amazing how much fear of being bad can stifle creativity. I think that’s why a lot of people who want to write don’t actually do it or don’t finish what they start. It’s like learning to ice skate—you’ll never be able to do it if you’re not willing to take a fall. Then get up again and fall again. In writing terms, that means being willing to take chances and to stretch yourself, even when that leaves you open to criticism.
Question: Favorite reader experience so far?
Answer: Meeting Patricia Briggs at the RT Booklovers Convention. She’s one of my all-time favorite authors, and I had never met her before. She was on a panel that I attended, and when it was over, I went up to the front to introduce myself. When I did, she told me she loved my books, and I had a big, embarrassing fangirl moment as I realized one of my favorite authors actually knew who I was. Even now, the memory makes me both smile and blush.
Question: Craziest thing you’ve had to Google for a work in progress?
Answer: I haven’t had to Google anything all that crazy (at least not so far). I am not a very good Google researcher—I tend to get frustrated if I don’t find what I’m looking for right away, and I’m usually trying to find something ridiculously specific. I do remember way back when I was writing my Morgan Kingsley adult urban fantasy series, I went pretty crazy trying to find out what you do with a Taser after you’ve fired it and are ready to put it away. I had no trouble finding plenty of info and videos and info about how to fire one, but no information on dealing with the aftermath. I mean, what was Morgan going to have to do to put the thing away after she’s fired it and there are wires coming out of it and attached to the bad guy? It seems like such a simple question, but (at least with my Google skills) it was really hard to find an answer.
Question: Biggest writing quirk?
Answer: I absolutely must do revisions on paper. If I have to write whole new scenes, I’ll probably do those on the computer, but when I’m making corrections or adding a few lines or paragraphs, I will handwrite them on the printed out manuscript. It means I always have to transcribe all that work later, which is always a pain, but it’s the only way I’m comfortable working.
Question: According to your Bio, you’ve done a LOT of different things, including ballroom dancing, traveling to all seven continents, and singing in a barbershop chorus – to name a few. How have these activities and adventures influenced your writing, if at all?
Answer: Little bits of my life’s adventures work their way into my stories, sometimes in obvious ways, sometimes not so obvious. For example, in the Faeriewalker series, my sixteen-year-old heroine, Dana, travels to London and is supposed to be met at the airport by someone her father is sending to pick her up. When she gets off the plane, there’s no one there to meet her. I knew exactly what she felt like, because at that age, I made a trip to Africa (Zaire, Rwanda, and Kenya), and at one point along the way—in Rwanda—my mother was supposed to meet my plane and didn’t show up. (I tell this story of my first travel unaccompanied by an adult on my website, here.
Question: Are you working on anything new?
Answer: I’m currently working on the revisions to the second book of the NIGHTSTRUCK series, which doesn’t have an official title yet. I’ve also just finished reading the proofs (all 1,000+ pages) of the Nikki Glass omnibus edition, DESCENDANT, which is coming out on June 28.
And now for the giveaway! One lucky winner (US only) will win a copy of Nightstruck!
-Giveaway is US only
-Winner has 48 hours to respond. If winner does not respond, a new winner will be selected.
-You must be 13 or older to enter OR have your parents’ permission.
-Neither I nor the publisher are responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
-I reserve the right to change any rules as I see fit for each individual giveaway
With that being said, I wish you luck! May the odds be ever in your favor!
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. Among her other experiences…
-Traveling all seven continents. Yes, even Antarctica.
-Becoming a Life Master in Bridge.
-Singing in a barbershop chorus.
Read the true story of Jenna’s first trip out of the country by herself at the age of 16: Jenna’s Zaire Adventure. And remember, insanity is a good thing for a writer.
She’s also a proud member of the Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, and would love for her readers to support her fellow authors!
Jenna is represented by Miriam Kriss, of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency.
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