Monday, August 19, 2019

Interview with fantasy author Erin Jensen

Novelist Erin A. Jensen is here today to kick off a new week. She’s chatting with me about her new contemporary fantasy, Benevolent.

During her virtual book tour, Erin will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too!

Erin Jensen is the Amazon International bestselling author of The Dream Waters Series. She was awarded the Bronze Medal for fantasy fiction in the 2018 Readers' Favorite international book awards. She also received Honorable Mention for fantasy fiction in the 2018 Writer's Digest self-published e-book awards. A part-time pharmacist and a full-time daydreamer, she resides in upstate New York with her ridiculously supportive husband, two teenage sons--who are both taller than her--and a Yorkshire terrier who thinks he's the family bodyguard.

Welcome, Erin. Please share a little bit about your current release.
Benevolent is the story of Abigail Perkins, a Supernatural fan whose guardian angel appears to her in the likeness of her favorite character from the show, the angel Castiel. The story is told from Abigail’s point of view as she revisits the moments that defined her life while on her deathbed. In her younger years, Abigail was bullied at school and felt pretty isolated at home. She took solace in her friendship with one close friend and in Supernatural, the television show they both loved. In the first memory we see through Abigail’s eyes, her only friend is losing his battle with cancer and the doctors don’t expect him to live through the night. Abigail’s mother won’t take her to the hospital to say goodbye because her friend’s mother wants her to remember him the way he was before he got sick. Abigail cries herself to sleep that night, and she wakes to find the angel from the T.V. show she’s always taken comfort in standing at the foot of her bed. The story goes back and forth between Abigail’s end-of-life moments with her family and her memories of the angel who visited her dreams during the difficult times throughout her life.

What inspired you to write this book?
I was binge-watching Supernatural on Netflix while writing the fourth book in my Dream Waters Series. One night, I sat down to write after watching an episode of the show, but my mind was still stuck on Castiel, the show’s utterly endearing trench-coat-wearing angel. So I pushed Book Four aside and went online to find out whether his character was based on an angel from the Bible, thinking maybe I’d write a book about angels and demons in the future. My search eventually led me to YouTube clips of Misha Collins, the actor who plays Castiel. The more I learned about him and Random Acts — the charity he co-founded — the more intrigued I became. Then I stumbled onto a video from Misha’s panel at a Supernatural convention where he shared that fans often tell him and his co-stars Supernatural was the only that thing kept them going at a time when they considered ending their life. All of those elements I unearthed during my internet search wove together to become the story concept that I was too inspired to hold off on writing. So I took a year off from my series to write Benevolent, knowing I would donate the proceeds to Random Acts.

Excerpt from Benevolent:
I flashed him a sympathetic smile. “What are you thinking?”

“I have never understood why humans are so moved by music,” he muttered as his eyes searched mine.

“Music is the closest thing that we have to magic,” I confided in a reverent whisper, “because it has the power to anchor us to a moment in time.”

His half-smile conveyed a heartwarming mix of curiosity and affection. “How so?”

I felt my face flush a shade darker as I grinned at him. “When we hear a song from our past, it conjures up all the old sensations that we felt when we first heard it.”

He eyed me with a perplexed frown as he took a step toward me. “How can a combination of man-made instruments and human vocal chords wield that sort of power?”

“I can’t explain it with words,” I whispered, “It’s something that you just have to feel.”

He stood there staring at me with that puzzled expression on his face as I stepped closer and carefully inserted the earpiece in my hand into his left ear, so the music connected the two of us, just as surely as the cord connected the earbuds in our ears. “Maybe you’d understand what I mean if you danced to the music.”

“I don’t dance,” he muttered as he watched me begin to sway to the beat.

I smiled at him as I took his hands in mine and moved his arms in time with the music, like a puppeteer pulling a life-sized marionette’s strings. “Anyone can dance. You just have to let go and let the music guide your movements.”

A skeptical frown spread across his face as he watched me, but he let me direct his movements nonetheless. He was stiff and awkward at first but as the music grew louder, he seemed to find the rhythm. “These words are nonsense,” he muttered.

“Shhh,” I whispered, “Don’t think. Just feel.”

He was a remarkably fast learner, but I suppose being on earth since the dawn of time had given him plenty of opportunities to watch humans dance. Once he started to feel the music, he moved with all the grace that you’d imagine an angel would.

“Hey Jude” gradually faded away until there was nothing but silence in our twin earpieces.

We stopped moving and stood there staring at each other while we waited for the next song to guide our movements.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I just finished the manuscript for the fourth book in my Dream Waters Series (the book I set aside to write Benevolent). That book is now in the hands of my beta readers. My next book will be the fifth (and probably the final) book in the series. I’ve also been collaborating with ROC Vox Recording & Production Studio on Benevolent’s audiobook, which I’m narrating. I have to admit narrating is a bit outside my comfort zone, but that’s part of the fun of this whole journey as an author. I love pushing myself to do new things that both excite and slightly terrify me!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Well, now I would say it was the day I began writing my debut novel in secret. But back then, I didn’t feel qualified to call myself a writer until I received my first review. It was from the Manhattan Book Review. After getting a five-star review from them, I felt confident telling the world that I was a writer.

Do you write full-time? What do you do other than write and how do you find the time to write?
I’m a full-time writer, a mother and a part-time pharmacist. Until recently, I worked four short shifts at the pharmacy and squeezed in my writing time whenever I could, but it was hard for me to shift into the creative mindset after getting out of work. My new manager adjusted my schedule so that I now work two full days at the pharmacy, and I have three weekdays to devote to writing. I was so thankful to him for working his magic that I named a character in my fourth book after him. Nothing says “thank you” quite like the head of a royal dragon family who bears your name!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Well, I’m a visually-oriented writer. My stories have always played out like movies in my head. When I create a new character, I almost always pick an actual actor to play the part in my head. I keep pictures of those actors on my iPad and I watch YouTube clips from their movies, T.V. shows and interviews so their appearances, voices and mannerisms are fresh in my mind while I write. When I describe a new character, I’m usually looking at a picture of the actor I envision playing him.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Honestly, I don’t really recall having a burning desire to take a certain career path as a kid. I think my head was always kind of in the clouds, fantasizing about all sorts of spectacular scenarios. Turns out, other people enjoy the stories I dream up just as much as I do! So I guess in my heart, I’ve always been a storyteller. I just needed to find the confidence to share my stories with the world.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Just a bit of advice that it took me a long time to figure out: Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that your dream is impossible. If there’s something you feel passionate about doing, get out there and follow your dreams. Life is short and in the end the only things worth regretting are the chances you didn’t take, and the things you left unsaid or undone. Chasing after your dreams might be terrifying, but even if you fail spectacularly you’ll never have to look back on your life and wonder what might have been if you’d been bold enough to take that risk.

Thank you for being a guest on my blog!
Absolutely. It was my pleasure. Thanks so much for having me!

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Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

James Robert said...

Congrats on this tour and thank for the opportunity to read about another great book out there to read. It helps out so I can find books I know my family will enjoy reading. Thanks as well for the giveaway.

Erin Jensen said...

Thanks so much for hosting today, Lisa!!

Erin Jensen said...

Glad you enjoyed the post, James Robert. Thanks for following my tour!

Victoria Alexander said...

Sounds like a good book!

Erin Jensen said...

Thanks for stopping by, Victoria! I’m glad you like the sound of the book.

Kim said...

I enjoyed the interview.

Erin Jensen said...

I’m glad you enjoyed the interview, Kim. Thanks for stopping by!

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Kim said...

What was one of your favorite scenes to write for this book?

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marisela zuniga said...

Great interview, this sounds like a great book