Interview with Jennifer R. Povey

Published 2013-08-30.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Nottingham, England - and now live in America. I would say that the biggest influence my background has is that I have lived in two countries and two cultures.

Britain and America share a common language - sort of - but are quite different. My favorite phrase that sums up the difference is "Brits think 100 miles is a long way. Americans think 100 years is a long time."

I think this, combined with travel, gave me a bit more cultural agility than most people have and an advantage in imagining different (human or not) cultures.
When did you first start writing?
I've always been writing. I still have my childhood poems. They're not even that terrible.

My creative maturity, though, didn't hit me until my mid thirties. I think it took that long for me to get the staying power to be a writer, not just a dabbler. (I've always written fan fic - and I'm not against fan fic, but I call it a writer's "training wheels").

But moving words around is something I've always done and enjoyed doing.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Telling stories. It's all about telling stories - and the greatest joy is when somebody enjoys the story I've told. It's not about sales numbers, it's about having somebody tell me my book was awesome, or that they really enjoyed my latest short story.
What are you working on next?
Right now I'm working on a plethora of short stories, one of which will be a giveaway on my blog. I have two releases coming up - an ezine on September 1 and the Prime Books "Shades of Blue & Gray" anthology is scheduled for release on September 4.

After that I plan on editing up an urban fantasy novel and submitting it to my publisher (Yes, I do have a publisher - they distribute through Smashwords). I also have half a dozen short stories I want to put up, but I need to get cover art together for them.
Who are your favorite authors?
This is a tough one for me.

My early influences were Jules Verne, Isaac Asimov and J.R.R. Tolkein.

My favorite active/living authors would be George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, C.J. Cherryh, and Vernor Vinge.

But it's a tough question because over the years I've liked a lot of authors...many of them in very different ways. The variety of writing out there in the speculative genres is tremendous at the moment - you can find something to almost any taste.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?

Nothing inspires me to get out of bed. I have to haul myself. That doesn't mean I'm unhappy - far from it - I'm just about as far from a morning person as you can get.

What inspires me to work? I have major, chronic Too Many Ideas Syndrome and need to get rid of some of them...which means actually finishing stuff.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
My hobbies are tabletop roleplaying games, video games (mostly casual and simulation games), horse riding, and photography.

That pretty much uses up any time not spent writing, eating, or sleeping. A lot of speculative fiction writers are also gamers, so it's not an unusual combination at all - and there's some crossing over of skills.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
No. But I do remember the first science fiction book I ever read. It was the standard translation of Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and I was about 8. (I was a precocious reader).

It was the first time I reacted to a book not with "That was good," "That was bad." but "I want to do that." Although I do write fantasy as well as science fiction, that was really the moment when I knew I was going to write science fiction - and thirty years later, here I am.
Describe your desk
My a mess.

On it are, let's see. Computer, printer, wireless router, camera in bag, stress ball in the shape of a polar bear...screen cleaner, various office supplies. I really need to tidy up.

Oh, and statues of assorted pagan deities and the like. That takes up a good chunk of it. I really, really need to tidy up...
What are your goals as a writer?
Sell more books - that's a big one.

Get the comic script I completed over a year ago drawn and published - the publisher is working on it. I'd love to do more comics work, but I'm not very good at the art side, and that makes getting into it a challenge.

Qualify for SFWA membership - I have 1 of the 3 required professional short story sales so I'm hoping it's just a matter of time. I've promised myself a dinner out and new business cards when I finally do it.

Get more novels published - which will do a lot towards goal 1.
What is your writing process?
I'm a pure pantser. If I outline, it's because a publisher or editor demands it - I'm one of those writers who feels "finished" if she outlines.

When I start a short story I start with a one or two sentence concept. For novels I start with a character and a desired ending - which may mutate as the book progresses. Everything else I discover on the way.

One thing I'd caution new writers is that everyone's process is different. Never let anyone tell you the "right" way to write a book. There isn't one - there's only the right way for you.
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