Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Today in my hotseat I have YA and adult author JR Turner! JR is, in addition to being an author, an acquisition author for Quake, the YA arm of Echelon Press (EP Adult arm has also published the Human’s book, Witch’s Pawn). For those of you who aren’t familiar with her, here’s a bit about JR:

Award-winning author J.R. Turner lives in Central Wisconsin with her husband and three children. She began writing in high school, and after a decade working as a commercial artist, started her first novel in 1999. Aside from crafts, camping and cooking, she loves holidays. A favorite is Halloween, a combination of spooky supernatural fun and chocolate. Visit her at http://www.jennifer-turner.com/ to learn more!

And now, onto the interview!

R: Hello, JR and welcome!
JR: thank you, Rocco.

R: Tell us a bit about yourself and your books
JR: What I am most passionate about tends to come through in the characters and themes in all my stories. I'm very much into social justice and anti-discrimination. While I enjoy a wonderful family life today, that wasn't always the case, and general themes about the struggle between the need for self-reliance and the desire for human connection always intrigue me.

R: You write both adult and YA fiction. Which do you prefer to write and why?
JR: This is hard to answer—it's a little bit like asking which of my kids do I love most! Writing for teens (or younger) is fascinating, especially as I watch my children age and how their understanding of the world around them changes each year. When I write YA or younger, I feel as if I'm getting a little closer to them, in my own creative way, recalling what it was like for me at that age and appreciating their situations all the more.
Writing for adults is a very different experience for me. Some days, it's the excitement a kid gets when they see the dessert table at a huge family celebration. All those goodies! All those treats! Other days, it's the panic of having too many choices from a banquet of ideas where I'm not sure how anything will taste until I give it a try. I get to be a lot more exploratory and that keeps me coming back for more time and again.

R: What’s your favorite genre to write in/read?
JR: I really love books that take me darker places—either in theme or emotion. I prefer horror, supernatural, and thrillers where life and death hang in the balance. I think this goes back to that struggle to survive I find most compelling in the books I read—which translates very directly into what I love to write.

R: Where do you find your inspiration for your novels?
JR: Everywhere. Sometimes it will be a single word, sometimes it will be a situation I imagined ending differently, or a character who is just too good (and noisy!) to ignore.

R: What do you find is the biggest challenge to you as an author?
JR: I always vacillate between character-driven or plot-driven and I think sometimes, it shows in my work. When I know I'm going into one or the other, it works out best, but sometimes, stories jump track and it can be a bit hard to find your footing again. I believe knowing what not to write is just as important as knowing what to write, and often, that's the difference between a character and a plot driven book.

R: You are an acquisition editor as well as an author. Which do you prefer, and what do you love the most about your work?
JR: When I'm doing one or the other, that's the one I love, so I guess it's almost an equal thing. Before I became the acquiring editor for Quake, my favorite part of a manuscript was the second draft. The first draft always feels like putting a puzzle together, making sure everything connects the way it should–but then I get to add the razzle-dazzle, play with language, and sink deeper and deeper into the characters of my book. Now, as an editor, I love seeing a new book become more and more polished and really enjoy the process of helping the author make it the best story they can create.

R: Can you still find time to read yourself? If so, what is one book on your TBR list you cannot wait to read?
JR: Oh yes, I've got a TBR pile that is towering over my bed right now. A friend of mine turned me on to Kathy Reichs, the author of the Temperance Brennan books, the basis for the television show Bones, which I really enjoy. I've just started Deja Dead and I'm already hooked. I have a feeling this winter will be spent eyes-deep in forensic anthropology.

R:What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
JR: Most likely the craziest, but also the best thing I've ever done, was to move across state to live in a friend's basement. We had no jobs, no work prospects, no family–a very tough transition. Our family was just not happy in the city, though, and without taking that frightening leap, we may never have fulfilled our dream of living in a small town surrounded by fresh-water lakes and rivers, and a wonderful north-woods landscape.

R:What advice do you have for writers just starting out?
JR: Don't try to write what you think is hot at the moment. Dig deep and write the most compellingly honest and emotional story you can–even if it's a space opera or a Western or high fantasy. That emotion, that visceral connection with a character is far more important for a reader than any complicated plot twists.

R: What would our readers be most surprised to learn about you?
JR: I was a head-banger back in the eighties. Spandex, boots, big hair, the works.

And Now, Just for Fun:

Day or Night person? Night—but I'm stuck being up in the day!
Cat or Dog? Dog (Ahem – well, I guess we can’t all be cat people, now can we???)
Mountains or Beach? Mountains, with a beach :)
Favorite Drink? McDonalds Caramel Frappe
Favorite TV Show? Supernatural
Favorite Movie? True Romance
Favorite Author (other than yourself :) Julie Garwood

R: Thank you for sharing your time with us, JR! (Even if you like dogs better…)

JR: Thank you, Rocco!! :)

Folks, to learn more about JR Turner and her upcoming releases, visit her website at http://www.jennifer-turner.com/

Meow, Kitties! Enjoy!

We shall see you the week of October 3 with more mews...and some announcements! Stay well.



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