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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Author Interview: Jeanette M. Bennett

Today I am pleased to present to you all the 73rd in a series of Author Interviews. Recently I sat down with the jabberwocky-reciting Jeanette M. Bennett,  and our conversation went something like this:

Paul:  I like to start my interviews by asking if you have any writing rituals?
Jeanette:  I don’t have time for rituals. However I find music will get me in the mood. I have some downloaded into my computer that I can listen to. Has to be instrumental or a foreign language, so I don’t have words competing with the ones in my head. And if that doesn’t work I have a frame drum I bang on for a few minutes. Hmm, maybe that is a ritual.

Paul:  What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
Jeanette:  Fantasy and science fiction. My favorite authors are Douglas Adams, Robert Lynn Asprin, Patricia Briggs, and Terry Brooks. And one day I shall see my name on the same shelf as them--provided the bookstore shelves its books alphabetically. I like writers with a bit of whimsy who move along.

Paul:  If someone had the power to step into your creative mind what would they see?
Jeanette:  I wouldn’t advise it. You have no idea where or when you might wind up. My mind is a time machine. (And I have a heck of a time writing checks. I keep putting dates like 1890 or 1945 on them. Never write time travel!)

Paul:  What is a typical day for you? 
Jeanette:  I sit down to write and the phone rings with the next disaster. (Sound familiar?)

Paul:  Do you have a favorite character in each of your series, aside from the lead? If so, which one and why? 
Jeanette:  That might be Dr. Wendell Howe if only because I have spent so much time Tweeting for him on Twitter. And yes, I always speak of him in the third person. Scary, huh?

Paul:  In all the years you’ve been publishing your work, what is the biggest mistake you made that you could share so others can avoid making it? 
Jeanette:  I only published officially Dec. 22, 2012. I probably have made lots of mistakes, but they haven’t caught up with me yet. I think my biggest mistake will be that I gave up writing for over 20 years and was miserable and didn’t know why. I was much happier after I started writing again. The moral is, if you are a writer--WRITE! Dont’ feel guilty about it.

Paul:  How do you find the time to write?
Jeanette:  That’s the toughest part, isn’t it? You certainly won’t find Time sitting on your porch with a big bow tied around it. You have to get creative and look under rocks. For instance I write on a 1G netbook--gutless wonder but it has a six hour battery. It’s 3 lbs and I carry it just about everywhere and write when there’s a lull. Then of course I’m writing in my head all the time. Also I gave up watching TV. What’s in my head is more entertaining anyway. (Not that TV gives it much competition.)

Paul:  What is one thing you hope I do not tell the readers?
Jeanette:  That I gave Wendell my stammer. Wait! I wasn’t supposed to tell you that! Now I will have to kidnap you or something before you tell your readers!

Paul:  If you are self-published, what led to you going your own way?
Jeanette:  All the horror stories. Like sitting on slush piles for twenty years or worse being accepted by a big publisher whose practices would be illegal in any other industry. Besides I’ve always been an independent little snit.

Paul:  Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Jeanette:  I run with scissors. I have to agree with Patricia Briggs. She said she only writes so she can find out how the story ends. Otherwise, why bother? Hopefully readers will find some surprises in my stories, but believe me, I was probably more surprised by the plot twists than any of my readers will ever be.

Paul:  Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Jeanette:  I don’t know about that, but I am learning to trust my instincts more--although I have to be sure it’s not my ego trying to do an impersonation of my instincts.

Paul:  Do you have to do much research for your stories?
Jeanette:  It’s time travel so I do a lot of historical research. I do my best to make sure everything is accurate. The more outrageous the story (like Benjamin Franklin having his house “wired” or the first fax machine being exhibited at the Great Exhibition in 1851) the more likely it’s true. Luckily I’m one of those nerds who likes doing research.

Paul:  What is your most recent book? Tell us a little about it.
Jeanette:  Walking a Fine Timeline. My friend described it as a Sci-Fi comedy adventure romance. It’s about Dr. Serendipity Brown, who invents time travel in 2353. She travels back to 1985 where she meets Sherman, a 19 year old kid who convinces her to hire him as her assistant. After a few misadventures they find themselves stuck in 1851 where they meet Dr. Wendell Howe, a Temporal Anthropologist from the 27th century who has spent far too much time in the Victorian Age. He helps Serendipity repair her machine thus breaking the law in his own time and destroying his career. The Time Purists in the future are so paranoid of someone changing history that only licensed time travels trained to never help or influence anyone in anyway are allowed into the past. So now the Institute of Time Travel’s Enforcement Agency is looking for Wendell so they can arrest him--if they can find him. Serendipity has hired Wendell to be her Time Travel Consultant as she plays time tourist and does as she pleases.

Paul:  What inspired you to write this book?
Jeanette:  I like messing with time paradoxes and I like history. Also I suppose I have to thank Stephen Hawkings. He said something to the effect that if time travel were possible, why haven’t we run into time travelers? Well, Steve, that’s because they are carefully trained to fit into the time period they are visiting--thus the Temporal Anthropologist was born.

Paul:  Do you also write any poetry, non-fiction or short stories?
Jeanette:  My short story The Spirit of Tea is appearing in Gears and Levers 2: A Steampunk Anthology. As for non-fiction I suppose Wendell’s blog, on his travels through the Victorian Age, is non-fiction--except the parts featuring Wendell.

Paul:  Do you have any pieces of work that will never see the light of day?
Jeanette:  Uh. I got at least six novels that I won’t admit to ever writing. Practice sessions, right?

Paul:  Do you enter competitions? Are there any you could recommend?
Jeanette:  Just one. I won first prize as Most Beautiful Baby of Cowlitz County. I would only recommend it if you are a baby...Wait, did you mean writing competitions?

Paul:  How much marketing do you do for your published works or for your ‘brand’?
Jeanette:  Not enough, and I seem to be doing it constantly. So far, thanks to Wendell, I think most of my sales are through Twitter. Kind of cool that my first sales were in New Zealand--literally the otherside of the world! I was an “international sensation” with just six sales. Ha-ha! Let’s face it. There is no “magic bullet.” You have to just plug along and be patient. You have to try to get everyone’s attention without calling too much attention to yourself

Paul:  What’s your favorite / least favorite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Jeanette:  My favorite is having a scene run through my head, grabbing my netbook and getting it down. And then to keep writing not knowing where it will take me. And yes, my characters are constantly surprising me.

Paul:  What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hobbies or party tricks?
Jeanette:  Housework (although it gets a backseat to writing.) I used to embroider a lot. I’ve taught Dark Age embroidery classes. As for party tricks, I can recite “The Jabberwocky.” It’s the only poem I could ever remember: Twas brillig and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe. All mimsy were the borogroves and the mome raths outgrabe...What? What do you mean this is the end of the interview? But I haven’t gotten to the vorpal sword yet!

Paul:  Thanks for the entertainment, Jeannette. I wish you every success for the future.

About Jeanette M. Bennett: Born in the I-5 Corridor, Jeanette M. Bennett has spent her entire life in Washington State. She has spent most of that time in the Scablands of Eastern Washington. She currently lives there with a motley crew of cats and her long-suffering husband, Mike. For the past four years she has been Tweeting and Blogging as her character Dr. Wendell Howe, a Temporal Anthropologist studying the Victorian Age, to promote her book, Walking a Fine Timeline.

Jeanette's Blog: Scablander
Jeanette on Twitter: @scablander
Jeanette on Facebook: Unknown
Jeanette's latest book: Walking A Fine Timeline (Amazon)

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1 comment:

  1. Erm, that's Jeanette not Jeannette. You didn't misspell my parents did.