Where Writers And Authors Meet Interviews:
Jennifer Eifrig was our Featured Spotlight author last week and vistors were encouraged to ask Jennifer some of their own questions! Here is a link to that Spotlight! Feel free to ask more questions, and we might just be able to get Jennifer back for a follow up interview!
1) OK, I am not going to ask you how you got to go to a steampunk festival for the weekend for work, but I will ask you how cool is it to have a job that would send you to a steampunk festival for the weekend? (Asked By: Jim Henry)
I know, so cool, right? I do like my job, even though it’s almost as precarious as writing fiction, economically speaking. I happened to have helped out the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum in Norwalk, CT with their current exhibit, What Is It? Victorian Technology & Invention, and convinced them that they should include a steampunk element. As a result of my suggestion they have mounted the first-ever steampunk exhibit in Fairfield County. When my fellow Cogwheel Press author Bruce Hesselbach asked if anyone wanted to accompany him to the Watch City Steampunk Festival in Waltham, MA, I offered to promote LMMM’s exhibit. The two of us ended up giving a talk called, “Victorian Technology & the Steampunk Vision,” which turned out to have the best attendance of all the so-called “academic track” presentations, and they invited us back next year.
2) Tell me about the drawing that has been serving (at the time of this post) as your Facebook profile photo. Who drew it? Do you think it is a good caricature? (Asked by: Edward Forrest Frank)
My daughter, now 8, drew that picture when she was 4 or 5. She’s always been an artist. It’s not a perfect portrait, of course, but I think she captured something of the quirkiness of my character and expression.
3) The profile says you are writing a free urban fantasy novel via Twitter. Tell us about how that process works. (Asked by: Edward Forrest Frank)
Simple – every day, or nearly every day, I post a new tweet to an ongoing story. I have my FB page and my Twitter feed linked, so I only have to post in one place. I have a basic idea of where the story is going, but occasionally I surprise myself. This story takes place in a different universe than my published novel and its forthcoming sequels, one in which magic is “corporatized.” It’s also a romantic comedy. I’ve found that writing in one sentence chunks is very good practice. Each post has to be self-contained and end on a “beat.” I started writing it for promotion, and it’s turned out to be an excellent exercise for me. I was amazed recently when someone I was talking to at a family gathering summarized the entire plot for me. People really are paying attention!
4) Your bio notes that you like steampunk and recently attended a steampunk event. Do you anticipate ever writing a steampunk novel? and if so, what would be the most difficult aspect for you of writing in that genre? (Asked by: Edward Forrest Frank)
I am starting to gather my thoughts together to write a steampunk novel. It will probably be a romance, but of course I love action, so there will be adventure as well. I just finished my first-ever steampunk short story, which I’m planning to submit to a charity anthology. If it’s published I’ll certainly let you know. Steampunk is vast and varied, but it’s like the Supreme Court said – you know it when you see it, and just throwing a pair of goggles on your protagonist doesn’t qualify your story as steampunk. The challenge for me is not the time period – I know the 19th century really well, as I’m an old-school
English major, plus I worked at Mystic Seaport for 8-1/2 years – but managing to balance the altered history with the technology, and not forgetting to keep up with the usual plot tension and character development. I’m pretty pleased with the short story – a writer friend of mine called it “pure gold,” so I’ll take that as a good sign.
5) An English major – what drew you to historical themes? (Asked by: Reading Alcove)
As I said above, I was lucky enough to have a really old-school education. In order to understand the literature from a particular period we were taught to understand the history. This meant that I was always studying history, even though I was an English major. I’ve worked in and around history museums and historical societies for over 20 years, so it feels natural to use what I know in my writing. My interest in Egyptology dates back to when I was a kid and the King Tut exhibit came to the U.S. I was too little to go, and I was mad as heck. At the time I knew the dynasties by heart (I’ve long since forgotten), and since then I’ve soaked up everything I could until it’s just in my DNA at this point.
I recently had a guest post related to research for Steampunk, what do you think is the best way to research the genre?
There is only one way to research a genre: read it. My co-presenter, Bruce Hesselbach, is a walking encyclopedia of steampunk literature. He gave an amazing talk showing actual Victorian technologies, accompanied by passages from the literature in which the author reinvented or reimagined the technology into something uniquely his/her own.
If you’re asking, how do I research Victorian-era life and technology, the best way I know is to visit a house museum. There are tons of them, and the people who work there are thrilled to talk with you.
6) Do you still consult or did you plunge in to writing without a life raft? (Asked by: Reading Alcove)
I still consult (is anyone looking for a grant writer?), and I work two days a week at a nonprofit writing grants. Mostly I’m a mom, but as my kids start to be a little more self-reliant I’m planning to do more and more fiction. As noted above, I’m planning a steampunk novel, plus I’m starting research on a historical that I can’t tell you any more about, except that it’s a fabulous, real story set during the American Revolution.
7) OK, I’m kind of embarrassed to admit it but I don’t have a clue what Steampunk is…explain please. What motivated you to this genre?(Asked by Jenny)
Ah, steampunk. Time Magazine said back in March that 2013 will be the year of steampunk (http://entertainment.time.com/2013/03/20/steampunk/). Chances are you already recognize the aesthetic, even if you don’t know the name.
Steampunk is hard to define, but here’s my go: it’s what Victorian science fiction would be if it were all real. It’s a subculture, a lifestyle, and a literary genre all wrapped into one. It’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Wild West, Dr Who, Oz the Great and Powerful…
it’s a world in which Newtonian physics reign supreme.
I happen to love it because I love Victoriana and sci fi and technology. I also like the literature, and I enjoy the cosplay.
8) Always nice to find another Twitter fan. I’d love to know more about your tweet a book idea. Also what other ways are you using Twitter?(Asked by Jo Linsdell)
I’m pretty boring with Twitter, actually. I just tweet my novel, and my FB author page posts appear on Twitter as well. I’d love to have more followers (hint, hint). It’s just another way to interact with readers and fellow writers like yourselves.
9) Hey, Jennifer! Your bio states you go in for a good cinematographically (quite a mouthful!) based novel! Me, too! So, let’s forget about books for a second. What movies and/or directors have influenced your work? (Asked by: Stuart R. West)
Love, love, love the movies! If I can’t see the scene in my head, it’s not working. I even have a sound track for my novels. So, I’m a huge Joss Whedon fan in general, although I like Buffy more than Firefly, and I think The Avengers was the best comic book movie ever made. Of course I love The Mummy and its sequels, for the Egyptophilia and the snappy humor. I’ll watch Groundhog Day any time it’s on. I enjoy the visuals of the Underworld series, although there are definitely weaknesses. Of course I cried my way through LOTR. I watched the original Star Wars 15 times in the theater (no, I’m not exaggerating), but the recent films were definitely meh.
In terms of influence, I’d have to say that movies mostly affect my action scenes. I seem them unfold in my mind’s eye just like a director does, with wide angles, close shots, pans, and fades. People tell me my fight scenes work well, and I attribute that to knowing what looks good on screen.
10) You say you are full of surprises. I am wondering if you were punctured, would surprises come tumbling out like candy in a pinata? (Asked by: Edward Forrest Frank)
Oh, yes, I come with nifty toy surprises. Would you believe I have my master’s degree in Japanese ink painting? I was really quite good, but haven’t painted in years because it requires so much concentration. By comparison, writing fiction is easy.
11) What question did you want to be ask, but nobody posed? And what is your answer to that question? (Asked by: Edward Forrest Frank)
Here’s a good one: why do I write? Answer: because I like who I am when I do. Writing is what got me through the huge transition in my life that occurred when I became I parent at 36. I gave up myself completely for another person, and my novel became a way to reclaim some of my own identity.
12) What authors/illustrators (artists) have inspired your work? If you had to compare your work (whether plot or genre) to another author’s work, who (or what) would you compare it to and why? (asked by Anonymous)
I’m a big Jim Butcher fan, so I suppose I should give him some props for turning me on to urban fantasy. However, there are tons of little references in my writing to authors like Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Toni Morrison, Katie Macalister, Charles Palliser, Karen Harper, JK Rowling, Karen Haney, EM Forster, Virginia Wolf, Will Shakespeare, and John Donne. Somewhere buried in my brain is a memory of every novel I’ve ever read, and they come out when I’m writing.
The best advice I can give anyone who wants to write is to read. Read, read, read. And read the people who’ve been read for years and centuries. There’s a reason why. Read Harold Bloom if you want to understand literary theory. Really take the time to notice structure, pacing, tension, foreshadowing, and dialectic. It all makes a difference. I’m personally convinced that readers still want novels that challenge them, even if the literary agents and the publishers think they don’t. I’m living proof!
From the Admin: Thank you for sharing your answers with us Jennifer! About question 11… I really liked your response to that one! I nursed my son exclusively till he was 1yr old. Talk about not feeling like I had an identity- whew- world building certainly helped me through that too!
You can find Jennifer Eifrig Book‘s on Amazon here: