Today's guest is novelist Jennifer L. Fry as she makes a stop along a virtual book tour for her debut novel A Part to Play.
Jennifer will award 2 of each 8x10 autographed print of an original illustration of one of her characters to randomly drawn commenters on the tour, and a grand prize of an 11x17 autographed set of all three main characters in the book. (US/Canada only). Enter via the form below, and also comment here and at other tour stops. The more times you enter, the better your chances of winning.
Jennifer L. Fry is a writer, artist, and teacher in Marin County, California, where she lives with her wonderful husband, two adorable dogs, and orange tabby cat. Though she has been writing since she was young, A Part to Play is her first novel.
Welcome, Jennifer. Please tell us about your current release.
A Part to Play is about fifteen-year-old actress Lucy Carter who is sent away to a prestigious performing arts boarding school to escape the complete breakdown of her family; she is lost without the support of her parents, until she meets a mysterious musician whose talent, passion and own insecurities teach her to rediscover her love of being on stage and more importantly that she holds the key to her own identity.
What inspired you to write this book?
In planning A Part to Play, I started with the emotional journey I wanted my main character to experience. I knew immediately I wanted to write a young adult story, and I wanted my story to have a strong message – that is, the importance of believing in oneself. Then, to develop my plot, I thought of my most favorite stories of all time from movies, plays, and books. One of these happens to be The Phantom of the Opera. I didn't want my book to be a retelling of that classic story, but rather I wanted it to draw inspiration from what I considered the most captivating parts. I loved the mystery and the powerful role that music played in the story; I also found the dark side of the Phantom intriguing.
As Lucy sat down in the graveyard against an aging oak tree, she caught her breath and thought of all the ways Kate had helped her to be stronger. She thought of how hard her sister pushed her to go to ESPA because Kate believed in her so much. Lucy knew she'd disappointed her sister when she decided not to go to the school. She told herself it was because it was too expensive for her parents and she would miss her friends and family too much to go, but deep down, she knew it was because she was afraid that she wasn't talented enough and she would embarrass herself and her parents.
Imagining her life going forward without Kate, all she could see was a vast emptiness ahead. A throbbing pain started in her head, her stomach, everywhere all at once. Lucy hugged her knees to her chest and let the tears come as hard and fast as possible. She stamped her feet and pounded her fists into the moist dirt at the base of the tree. It wasn't fair. It wasn't fair!
Her life came down to a before and after. Before accident, the bright world full of laughter, and after accident, the muted world through fogged up glass. Just when the glass started to clear up, something reminded her of all that she'd lost.
What exciting story are you working on next?
I'm working on several ideas at the moment, but nothing concrete enough to share just yet. I am playing with the idea of writing a book that follows the male lead character in A Part to Play because I feel his story isn't over yet.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
According to my parents, I've been telling stories since I was old enough to talk, and writing stories since I learned to put pencil to paper. Writing is very much a part of who I am and how I experience the world, so I would say I have always had an innate passion for writing.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I don't write full-time, and I'm not sure that I ever will because life is full of so many interesting things to do and experience. My other passions are art and teaching, both of which I do professionally. Most recently, my husband and I started our own business teaching after school and summer digital media arts classes, so that keeps me really busy. Finding time to write is a challenge, especially while promoting my current book. There are just not enough hours in the day. What I try to do is set aside time to write in the morning before anything else gets in the way. I set a goal for each writing session; anything from writing a specific number of words to completing a certain scene. And I eliminate distractions by turning off my phone and closing my email – it's just me and my imagination.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I hate sitting at my desk to write. It makes it feel like work. Instead, I prefer to find a comfortable place to sit such as the big leather chair in my library with a laptop and a cup of tea. That makes writing feel more like something I do for enjoyment rather than a chore. I also need complete silence when I write, which means no music; I find that a little quirky since music plays an incredibly important role in my current book, and in my life in general. But any outside sounds distract me from getting inside of the story, which is where I need to be in order to write at my best.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I was sick pretty often as a child so I was determined to become a pediatrician. I wanted to find new ways to perform uncomfortable medical tests so kids wouldn't have to be afraid to go to the doctor's office. But my talent and passion for writing presented itself early on, and there was a time when I couldn't imagine doing anything else. All of my high school friends expected me to become a professional writer. I found I didn't have an interest in journalistic writing, so when it came time to pick a college major, I decided to pursue graphic design, which was another interest of mine. I never expected to be an art major because I had a negative experience in a junior high art class that had me convinced I had no artistic ability, but that just wasn't true. I even put my writing aside for many years while I trained as a designer, and then as an art teacher. And now, I'm back to writing, where I've always felt completely at home.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Many people don't know that I designed my own book cover for A Part to Play. As a professional graphic designer, I had a very specific idea of how I wanted the cover to look, and what I wanted it to symbolize, so I worked hard to make that happen. In the same vein, I created my own book trailer with the help of my husband, who is a professional 3D computer graphics artist. Art and design are as much a part of me as writing is – all just forms of creative self expression.
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