Interview with Sunshine Jen

When did you first start writing?
I started writing when I was in high school. I had a great English teacher who encouraged us to not just write but to rewrite. I was shy (and still am in certain situations), but I could put it all down on the page. The page didn't judge me, and I could change things if I wanted to. I decided to seriously pursue writing as an art in college and learned the craft of dramatic writing. I continued to write plays and screenplays after college, but prose scared me. There were so many words. In 2004, I started blogging under the name Sunshine Jen, and well, writing prose no longer scares me.
What made you decide to write The Slacker Pilgrim Guide to the Camino de Santiago?
I decided to write the Slacker Pilgrim Guide while I was walking the Camino de Santiago in 2012. To prepare for the 500 mile walk, I had read a lot of memoirs and books about the Camino, but I had specific questions that none of the books seemed to answer. On the Camino, I realized that I wanted to write a book that answered all the trivial questions about the experience. What is the terrain like? What are the people like? Is there good coffee?

The coffee is excellent by the way.
What motivated you to self-publish The Slacker Pilgrim Guide as an ebook?
The Camino is changing, so I didn't want to wait to get it published. I wanted to get it out to folks as soon as possible. I also knew that I wanted to write a complete book and not a series of blogs. I wanted something that said, here is everything I have to say about that experience.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Writing is work, and sometimes it can be painful. I write long hand, and my hand has cramped on the pen. I have always said that I will stop when I run out of ideas, but I always have another idea and another and another. I think there's joy in there somewhere.
You have also published a book of short stories called Beautiful Collisions. Could you talk about that project?
Beautiful Collisions is my love letter to Los Angeles where I have lived for over a decade. I have been writing and rewriting those stories for years, and I wanted to finally let them go. In the book, I'm trying to show some of my Los Angeles beyond the sunshine and glamour. As I was going through the stories, I realized how many of them are about love even though they are not traditional love stories.
What are you working on next?
I have a few projects simmering. I am working on a book about sailing. I'm also working on a fantasy novel which I recently got to draft. I want to do more walks. I want to do it all in writing. I want to write both fiction and nonfiction and work in different forms. Why the heck not?
Who are your favorite authors?
This is a wild question to me because I hold my favorite authors close to the bone. I'll give you four. I recently read a lot of Sarah Vowell's books for the first time, and she's a hoot. I like Bill Bryson and David Sedaris. I love recommending Flann O'Brien, the Irish author, to everyone I meet. He's great fun.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I get up with the sun. The sun is up, and it's time to get out of bed and have a cup of tea. I like that cup of tea. Coffee is too much of a jolt first thing in the morning.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
After the Camino, I realized there are three things I want to do with my life: write, walk, and sail. I spend as much time as possible doing those three things. I'm also an aggressive reader, and I like to do zumba.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
When I was first uploading the Slacker Pilgrim Guide and trying to format it, the Smashwords formatting guidelines calmly led me through the process step by step. I'm not a tech super genius, but I followed the steps and did it. Suddenly my MS Word document was an ebook. Suddenly, the book was out in the world. I am in awe that something came out of my laptop and reached so many people. Because of ebooks, I have connected with readers around the world, and those connections are amazing.
Published 2013-09-05.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Dragon's Mate
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 49,210. Language: English. Published: August 29, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary, Fiction » Women's fiction » General
When a time travelling sorcerer jumps into present day Manhattan and steals her engagement ring, Kate Reilly must travel with her two kickass female friends to the time of dragons to get it back.
Stumbling to Rome on the Via Francigena
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 49,080. Language: English. Published: April 16, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Travel » Hikes & walks, Nonfiction » Travel » By region
In autumn 2014, Sunshine Jen and her partner D walked for a month on the Via Francigena, an old pilgrim trail ending at St. Peter's Square. Trekking from Fidenza, through Tuscany, and into Rome, they encountered rain, prickly bushes, and delicious pizza while experiencing Italy at a walking pace. In addition to being a memoir, this book contains travel tips for walking the Via Francigena.
Beautiful Collisions: Stories from Los Angeles
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 47,080. Language: English. Published: June 24, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Women's fiction » General, Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
Beautiful Collisions is a book of interconnected short stories about women in Los Angeles in the first decade of the new millennium. Some of their collisions are romantic. Some collisions are adventurous, but the ladies all keep driving in the city of sun and stars.
The Slacker Pilgrim Guide to the Camino de Santiago
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 43,370. Language: English. Published: November 1, 2012. Categories: Nonfiction » Travel » Hikes & walks
Half travel tips and half travel memoir, The Slacker Pilgrim Guide to the Camino de Santiago is a humorous book about the famous pilgrim trail across the north of Spain. In April and May 2012, Sunshine Jen walked 550 miles on the Camino Frances to Santiago de Compostela then onto Finnisterre on the coast. She went looking for answers, but she came back with more questions and no blisters.