Jennifer Rainey is visiting us today from Ohio. For all of you sailors out there, we’re talking somewhere around a latitude of 40 degrees North, and a longitude of around 82 degrees West. I’m not sure why that fact appeared, but you never know when such things might come in handy. Enough of that. Without further ado, here’s our guest!
Hi, Jennifer. Thanks for stopping by. Why don’t you give us a little background on yourself?
I wish I had some magnificent tale to tell you full of amusing coincidences and witty quips and a neat little moral at the end! Alas, I am simply an English major from Ohio who is currently working as a secretary at a music school. I’m also a professional musician, though I still consider music more of a hobby. Writing is a little more my speed!
I wonder why it is that so many writers are also musicians? Actually, back up. Why is it that so many creative people are musicians? It must be that whole right brain/left brain thing. So what got you into writing in the first place?
I’ve always liked telling stories since I was very young. But I didn’t really get into honing my writing skills until I was a teen and I wrote a lot of fanfiction. That old stuff of mine is miserable and embarrassing, haha! But at least it was good practice.
I’m greatly tempted to ask you to dust off some of that fanfiction for this interview, but I shall restrain myself. Instead, why don’t you tell us about your most current book.
These Hellish Happenings is a paranormal tale with a dark sense of humor. It follows a hapless vampire named Jack Bentley as he, after dealing with the Devil, is sucked down to Hell to slave away at the Registration Office of the Damned for all eternity. Instead of something out of Dante’s imagination, he finds a Hell that is more a distorted mirror image of Earth complete with species-prejudiced demons who berate him for being a vampire. Once in Hell, Jack also encounters ex-lovers, new romance, Hellish politics and conflicts with Satan’s weasely right-hand man, and as the story progresses, he begins to find the strength to stand up for himself and for his species. The novel never loses its sense of humor, though, and is perfect for anyone who is into the paranormal or comedies or both.
That sounds like a great premise. I love the idea of Hell simply being a reflection of Earth. I hope the IRS is alive and well down there (er, if any IRS agents are reading this, please don’t audit me). What else are you working on these days?
These Hellish Happenings is actually the first in a series. I’m working on the second in the series right now. It’s tentatively called When Hell Freezes Over, but I can’t tell you much more than that.
No worries. When I’m in the middle of writing a story, I try to not talk about it toanyone. Talking about it almost feels like the literary equivalent of prematurely opening the oven door on a chocolate soufflé. How about other people’s books? What are some books that have had the most influence on you as a person and as a writer?
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. They each have not only had an influence on the way I write and the way that I think about plotting and characters and such, but they also are three of the biggest reasons that I studied English in college. Books like these are what gave me such a love of literature.
Brave New World made a big impression on me too. It scared me a lot more than 1984, though, both are equally excellent. Do you have any advice for other writers?
Keep writing! Never stop! Don’t make me get out the whip! ;P Seriously, though, no matter what tries to get in the way, don’t let it. And as far as marketing, the same thing; don’t give up and keep pushing, especially if you’re a new author. It’s a lot of work to get your name out there, but it’ll pay off in the end.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Good writing always inspires me; when I read something good, it makes me want to crank out something decent, too. Also, my characters tend to inspire me. Just thinking about them in general makes me want to go write more of their story.
Speaking of inspiration, there’s nothing more inspiring than food (well, I suppose there are more inspiring things, like Dvorak’s New World Symphony, the view from the edge of the Grand Canyon, and a knock on the door from the Spanish Inquisition, but let’s not quibble). Do you have a favorite meal?
Maple-glazed chicken with mashed potatoes and rice pilaf. Actually, anything with chicken! It’s the perfect culinary blank canvas.
Yum. That sounds good. Besides writing (and maple-glazed chicken), do you any other skills we should know about?
Like I said earlier, I’m a professional musician. I play the piano and sing in a folk band that plays locally. I also used to act, though I don’t really have the time to anymore. In addition to that, I am extraordinarily double-jointed in my thumbs. Hitchhikers, see ‘em and weep!
Folk music is one of my favorites. I grew up on Pete Seeger and Joan Baez. There’s nothing quite like the duo of a good voice and a guitar. Plus, a lot of those folk singers were incredible writers. Granted, they land squarely in the poet category, but it’s writing all the same. What do you hope to achieve with your own writing?
I want to entertain people, but I also really want to make people think. That’s very important to me.
Thanks, Jennifer, for sharing your time with us. We wish you the best of luck in your writing career.
Jennifer can be visited at her author site JenniferRainey.com. Her folk music group is called The Raineys and can be visited on their Myspace site. She loves to hear from people, so send her an email at Jennifer.firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to learn more about her writing. Her novel, These Hellish Happenings, can be purchased in the US in paperback or for Kindle, as well as in the UK in paperback or for Kindle.