I remembered how I first started communicating with Jennifer Laurens. When I accepted her friend request on my Facebook account, I checked out her profile. I was shocked that an author added me instead of vice versa. She was indeed the most strange but in a cool way author I've ever met. It was when I was browsing through her posts that I saw one which said "Message me your address to get Heavenly bookmarks!"
I never got an autographed bookmark before then so I jumped at the chance to get one and immediately messaged her. I received the bookmarks a few weeks later and I was ecstatic; not many authors I knew at that time sent stuff outside of the US.
A few months ago, when I started writing book reviews for a local newspaper, i came up with this idea, I wanted to create a book blog which allowed me to reach a wider international base of readers. I wanted to encourage more teens to read. I wrote to Jennifer Laurens and she sent me a copy of Heavenly. She also agreed to do an interview with me to run together with the book review of Heavenly. So here's my interview with one of the most friendliest and nicest author I know :)
1. Describe what you feel when you write.
When I first started writing seriously ( about 9 years ago ) I literally couldn’t wait to wake up and hit the keyboard, I was so excited to write. Why do I write? I started writing because my teenage girls wanted to read romance without the explicit sex. I write now because I feel like the market needs uplifting stories teens can relate to about life and its challenges. Anytime I can share an experience and get a letter from a reader telling me I helped them somehow, I am pleased.
2. How long did it take you to finish writing your first book including the previous drafts that didn't make it?
I’m working on my very first book right now. I wrote it 9 years ago, and it’s been through countless drafts. COUNTLESS. But I’ve always loved the story and am now re-writing it for the YA audience. Originally, it was a women’s romance.
3. What is it like to be a mother and an author at the same time?
Mother comes first, and feeds the author creative experiences. All of my stories come from real life experiences to some degree or another. Heavenly being the most auto-biographical. Life is busy with six children and a child with autism – and her demands never ease up.
4. Tell us a little more on what inspired your concept and idea to write Heavenly and Penitence? Where were you, what were you doing when you first had that idea?
Heavenly is my family’s story dealing with our child with autism. Each of us has had our own difficulty accepting and learning to live with her, and the challenges impacted us in so many ways, it’s not easy to put it all in a nutshell. But I believe Heavenly gives the perfect glimpse of what life is like with a handicapped child. Also, I felt such a great loss for so long with my daughter who has autism. My journey coming to grips with her life, the meaning of her life and what would become of her both tore me apart and built a foundation for me to deal with her on a daily basis. Heavenly is truly our family story. Penitence is a more fictitious dimension and addition to the story.
5. May i ask who is Cooper? You dedicated Heavenly to him. Share with us, how much and why he means a lot to you ? (if this question is too personnel, go ahead and skip it )
Cooper is my nephew, and you’re the first person to ever ask about him. Thank you. He was four years old when, on the first day of Kindergarten, his mother was walking him to school ( he was riding his bike ) and an underage, 14 year-old driver hit and killed him at the bus stop. Very tragic. Amazingly enough, my brother and sister in law forgave the family of the driver and embraced them into their family. That was a real miracle. Their story touched many lives.
6. Penitence is the continuous of Heavenly am I right? Tell us what goes on in that book?
Penitence is Zoe dealing with mortality. Human, physical love versus the deep spiritual love and connection she has for Matthias. Each character has to pay a price for the choices they make: hence, the name Penitence.
7. Is there going to be another book after Penitence?
Absolution is the final book. It’s due out at the end of this year.
8. What are your publishing plans like?
In 2011 I have the story I mentioned above coming out. More on that later.
9. Would you rather be, a guardian angel or the person guarded by a guardian angel? Please illustrate on the answer of your choice. (Who would you protect if you chose to be a guardian angel and who do you think in your life is your guardian angel?)
I’m absolutely positive guardian angel’s exist and watch over us. My thoughts on this came from years of seeing my daughter ( and other children ) survive things that wouldn’t have ended the way they did without the help of some unseen hand helping out. This idea has given me so much comfort over the years, I wanted to share it. I’ve always been fascinated with life after death, and who to watch over us better than our loved ones who’ve passed on before? If you died tomorrow, you wouldn’t stop loving and caring about the people in your life you love and care about today, right?
10. Why do you choose to write about a troubled kid with parents who look pat her problems? Do you know a person who is/was in the same situation as Zoe?
Zoe is a combination of my two daughters who each learned to accept and love and live with our daughter with autism differently, so , yes, I do know a person like Zoe. My girls are one of the reasons I wrote Heavenly.
Thank you Jennifer for sharing with us on Heavenly and about writing.