I am so excited today to introduce you to Jennie Hansen. Not only is she one of my favorite authors who writes in several genres--suspense, historical, and western to name a few, she is also the LDS fiction book reviewer at Meridian Magazine. Thousands of subscribers look to her in recommending good books and where to spend their precious book money. But there's more to her than just reviewing books and writing, so I thought I'd take today to interview her so you can all get to know her better.
Jennie, if you could be one of your characters from your books, who would you be?
Hard question. I've never wanted to be any of my characters, certainly not the historical ones--I'm far too enamored with indoor plumbing to want to trade places with any of them. Each of my heroines has qualities I hope I share, but I don't want to deal with their problems or already have. The one character I sort of modeled after myself, most of my readers disliked, so I won't even mention her. I think I bombed on this question. Let's try the next one.
Okay, now I'm dying to know which character you modeled after yourself! I might have to offer a bribe of some sort to get you to share. Can you tell us what your writing process is? Do you write daily? Morning? Evening?
I used to have a strict schedule, two hours before work every morning, another two hours in the evening. Now I write every Monday morning and the rest of the week I sandwich in whatever time I can. I thought when I retired from the library I'd have lots of time to write, all day every day, if I wanted. But life had other ideas and now I wonder when I had time to go to work five days a week.
I can definitely relate to trying to sandwich writing in. What do you think is the best writing tip you ever received?
Read something every day; write something every day.
Excellent advice. I always need an excuse to read and write more. Where do you get ideas for your books?
Some of my ideas came from newspaper stories during my reporter days, some came from issues that are important to me, some just popped into my head from who-knows-where.
What are you working on now?
I have a new book Heirs of Southbridge that will be released in a couple of weeks and I just turned in a rewrite for an untitled book featuring a character from that book. It will be a stand alone, not really a sequel.
Who is your favorite author?
I don't have a favorite author; I have lots of favorite authors, past and present. Perhaps the one I like the most is Janice Sperry, my daughter, who just signed her first contract for a Christmas book. Moms are supposed to like their own kids best, aren't they?
Well, if they're Janice Sperry, then of course! We love Janice on my blog. Let's talk about your reviewing process for a moment. When you are reviewing books, what are you looking for that would make you give it five stars?
I want characters I can believe in and who show growth through the experiences they face; I want a strong, well-paced plot; I want a beginning that intrigues me and an ending that is both satisfying and realistic. I want attention given to grammar, a setting that blends into the story well without taking over the story, and when I've finished reading I want to feel I haven't wasted my time, but am glad I read the book. Learning something new is a bonus.
Is that all? Well, no problem then. :) Really, that is something I think every writer should print out and shoot for. I know I am! Tell me, if you weren't a writer, what would you be instead?
When I was little I planned to be a sheep herder when I grew up. I always liked sheep and thought those little wagons the sheepherders lived in were cool. Later I set my sights on becoming an FBI agent. I tried a variety of things: receptionist, legislative page, model, librarian, reporter, editor (oops! I guess those last two are writers too). I love being a wife, mother, and grandmother, and I'm glad for the opportunities I've had to try other careers, but I can't imagine not writing.
Awww, a sheep herder. They do look like cute little animals. What is something unique about you that your readers don't know?
At this point in my life and writing career, to borrow a cliche, my life is pretty much an open book. Perhaps I've never mentioned that I once lived in a cemetery (caretaker's house), I've broken my nose twice; the first time I was kicked by a cow, the second time one of my kids banged my nose with her head. I won a marble tournament in the fifth grade. The principal made me give the boys back all of their marbles and declared me ineligible for the contest because I was a girl.
Oh wow. You have led an interesting life! What was the last book you read?
It was either First Nephi by Nephi or Funeral Potatoes by Joni Hilton. I'm half way through Slayers by C.J. Hill, whom everyone knows is someone else. Does that count?
Of course it counts! Thank you so much for the interview and for some really great insights into the life of a writer/reviewer. I also like to learn new things and I'm appreciative of all the time you've spent in your life helping writers become better at their craft.
If you'd like to read more about Jennie you can go to her blog here. You can also read her reviews every Thursday at Meridian Magazine here. As she mentioned, she has a new book coming out, Heirs of Southbridge, and I, for one, can't wait to read it.