Interview with Jenny Lykins

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a small town in West Virginia. I can't say that it influenced my writing. I absolutely loathed English and everything about it, including the mandatory reading list. I even got into an argument with one of my high school English teachers over why in the world anyone would ever need to learn to diagram sentences other than to teach someone ELSE to diagram sentences. I can't believe I passed that class.
When did you first start writing?
I first started "writing" when I got married and moved to the Philippines. This was in the days before computers, email, or even cheap international phone calls. I would write epic length letters home, describing life in the Philippines, from having geckos (lizards) living in the house with us (they ate the bugs, so we were glad to have them), to having to haul drinking water from the Air Force Base in ten gallon containers. People would say, "You write such great letters. Have you ever thought of doing anything with that?" My reaction to that was, "What do you DO with letter writing?" It wasn't until my kids were teenagers and independent before I started writing books. I started my first book with nothing more than a scene in my head, and I started writing it down just to get it out of my system. While I was writing I found a class at University of Memphis which covered ALL the aspects of writing, from how to format the page to writing query/cover letters, to marketing your book once you sold. I found about two dozen kindred spirits in that class, and just kept writing so I could keep meeting with them.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Honestly, I absolutely hated the business side of New York print publishing and the bean counters. It killed my creativity. I turned down two offers for Spirit of the Ruins, and after some badgering from friends, I decided to go indie with it, and I haven't regretted it.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love to get to know the characters as the reader does. I find out what they're going to do when the reader does. My favorite thing to do is to throw as many obstacles as possible in their way when they least expect it. The greatest joy, though, is hearing from readers who have enjoyed my work. I've had letters from all over the world, all walks of life. I even had a marriage counselor write and tell me she recommended my books to her male clients, to give them an idea of what women really want! (Worthy of framing. :D)
What do your fans mean to you?
The readers mean everything. If I didn't have readers, I wouldn't bother to write. The stories are for them.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'm a black belt in Kyokushin-kai Karate, which I love. My husband and I SCUBA dive, we ride Harleys (I ride my own), we love to travel. We've been nearly everywhere in the world, and where we haven't been, we plan to go there.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Through word of mouth, a good review, or I just cruise the books and pick one that sounds interesting.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Oh, yes. The first story I ever wrote was Echoes of Tomorrow, the second book published in print.
What is your writing process?
I write long hand with a spiral notebook and a needle point pen. I can NOT get creative with a cursor blinking at me. I edit so much, it's easier to scribble it out than edit on the computer. I sit down, get comfortable, reread the last few pages of what I've written to get into the mood of the story, then start writing. I might write for 18 hours straight, or 18 minutes. When I hit a wall I don't push it. That just makes me frustrated. I put the manuscript down and walk away from it for a day or two, then when I pick it back up I nearly always break through the wall and pick up where I left off.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I remember the first time travel I ever read (though, sadly, not the title). I just remember reading that book, loving the time travel aspect, and thinking, "There're actually books out there that are written for ME!" After that, I was constantly in search of time travels.
How do you approach cover design?
I try to have an image that relates to the book. I've taken four of the images myself. I try to make it interesting enough to put a question in the reader's mind, so they'll want to see what that picture is all about. When I absolutely couldn't find an image pertinent to the book or the characters, I searched image sites, looking for something evocative enough to catch the reader's eye.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords has allowed me to get all of my print books, as well as the one that I refused to sell as a print book, available to everyone with an ereading device. Mark Coker, with his so VERY well-written Smashwords Style Guide made it easy to take on the formidable task of reformatting from print to epub. The formatting for print couldn't be more different from epub if they tried. :D Mark's book walked this cyber-idiot through the process with no problem at all.
What are you working on next?
I'm working on Molly Hawthorne's story. She's Alec Hawthorne's sister from the "Dreams" books. I got so much feedback from readers, wanting to read Molly's story, that I just had to sit her down and tell her she was going to have to give me all her details. She's being typically Molly and surprising me with some of the details of her life.
Describe your desk
My desk is pristine. That's because I write longhand in a spiral notebook with my favorite needle point pen. I just can't get creative with a cursor blinking at me. I transfer every 10 pages or so onto the computer, editing as I go, and I use a laptop, so...desk is still pristine. My lap, and all surfaces around me is another story, however.
Published 2013-11-09.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.