I'm beyond thrilled to have Jen Turano here on my blog today. A few months ago, I saw one of her books come up for review and, after finding out that my closest reader friends hadn't read her (and thus couldn't give an opinion of her), I decided to try her out. Wow. I don't know that I've laughed quite so much at a book before! But you can read her books later. For now, the interview.
When did you first begin writing? How long after that was it before you got published?
I first began writing when my son was in the third grade. We’d gotten through this rather horrible series - okay, we only got through book six and I’ve never owned up to the fact there are…six more books – but…he said that the stories I made up for him about dragons when he little and needed to stay in his jogger stroller while I ran were more interesting. So…we decided to create our own book. It was called Fanglers, had smelly creatures in it, and while it certainly never got published, I realized that I’d missed using my brain. Not that I didn’t love staying home with my son, it’s just, brains are a horrible thing to let just sit. As the years went on, I wrote here and there, some middle grade, some YA, some contemporary romance, and over those years I was getting a lot better with query letters. Agents didn’t seem to want to sign me on, but they would call me, talk about my unusual writing voice, and then they’d give me pointers. Apparently I had a bit to go with my actual writing craft. I started really looking at all the books I read, figured out what I was doing wrong, and then by the time my son reached middle school, I landed my first agent and then she sold my first book a year later – so…yeah…it took me a while to get published.
That is so neat!
Your books have many "laugh out loud" scenes. Does humor just flow from your fingers or do you work on tweaking scenes to make them humorous?
It takes about four edits for me to start getting funny. I’ll have the scene down, but the dialogue might not be clicking as well as it should. However, by the fourth edit, the characters are really developed, so it’s easier for me to know how they’re going to interact, and that’s when the humor happens. I delete a lot of words – I never save anything that I’ve written because I’ll think that something is brilliant, a quirky turn of phrase, or a specific scene – but it just doesn’t work, so if I don’t delete it, I’ll try to force it into the story and it won’t come across as humorous, just dumb.
I think that's encouraging to a lot of aspiring writers. We all like to think that if someone's published it means they're talented -- not that they had to work to get there.
What is your favorite type of character? Bold? Shy? Secret? Independent?
I like strong women who have a sense of humor, but who are, at heart, kind.
Just reading one of your books, I can clearly see that. :)
Besides writing, what are some of your favorite things to do?
I love walking, or more on the lines of power-walking. I do about five miles a day. Then, I love meeting friends out for dinner, and Al (husband person) and I love to visit little towns out here in Colorado. We browse in obscure little shops, looking for unusual things. I found the coolest metal junkyard dog sculpture a few weeks back, but oddly enough, Al was not exactly as enthusiastic about it as I was, so I didn’t bring him home with me. That right there is why we’ll be going back this weekend to see if it’s still there (I’ve named him George) because…George shouldn’t have been left behind, and did I mention he’s got a spike collar made out of old metal – oh, he’s fabulous…
Haha! That's great!What is the easiest part of writing for you?
Editing is the easiest part for me.
What is the hardest?
The first draft – all of those pesky blank pages – staring back at me – day after day after day.
Do you find your real life reflected on the pages of your books?
Not much, although I have a really odd sense of humor, so some of that does come through on the pages.
Who are the authors that have most inspired you?
Susanne Elizabeth Phillips, Julia Quinn, Jayne Anne Krentz, and J.K. Rowling
What is the #1 thing you'd say to an aspiring writer?
Don’t rush to publish. It can kill any chance you have at a successful career if you put stuff out there that’s just not ready. Take your time – concentrate on the writing at first – not on your platform, not on your pitch – you need to write the book. Not everyone is a storyteller, no matter that you hear otherwise all the time. If you can get a complete story written that’s compelling – that’s the trick. And, more importantly, if you want to be published – it’s not about the author – it’s all about the reader. You have to know your target audience and what they expect in a book of that particular genre, and then you need to deliver that.
Great tip that we need to be reminded of! Thanks so much for joining me here today!
A USA Today Best-Selling Author, Jen Turano has written the critically acclaimed Ladies of Distinction series, and A Class of Their Own series, published through Bethany House Publishers. Her novel, After a Fashion, was chosenas a top pick from Romantic Times, as well as being named a top ten romance of 2015 from Booklist. It is also a nominee for Romantic Times 2015 Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her book, A Most Peculiar Circumstance, was chosen as a top ten romance by Booklist in 2013. Her seventh book, Playing the Part, released in the spring of 2016, and will be followed by a new four-book series, Apart from the Crowd. When she’s not writing, Jen spends her time outside of Denver with her husband and neurotic Cattle Dog, enjoying herself as an empty-nester since her son recently abandoned her for the college life. She can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jenturanoauthor/ or visit her on the web at www.jenturano.com. She is represented by the Natasha Kern Literary Agency. Her books may be found in fine bookstores, or follow the Baker House Publishing link to find additional places to purchase her work –http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/authors/jen-turano/1761