How did you become a writer?
It sounds a tad cliche, but I've always enjoyed writing. I was a bit awkward as a kid (and, full disclosure: an adult) and I found I was able to express myself more easily if I could take the time and put it down "on paper." But more recently, I started in earnest about eight years ago. I was in the habit of sending friends emails with random thoughts or jokes, and a friend suggested I start a blog. The blog turned into a series of personal humorous essays, which I self-published in 2013. Around that time, I had been "marinating" an idea for what I call an "anti-romance." So many of the protagonists in the romance stories I read were practically perfect, or "adorably imperfect," and I thought, "Where are the rest of us?" So I came up with a romantic lead that is decidedly NOT looking for her "happily ever after." That became my first novel, "Girls Who Wear Glasses."
What inspires you to write?
Coffee. Kidding. I've always been in awe of those writers who seem to be "struck" by inspiration. For me, it's caffeine and perspiration. It's a challenge, making those words appear. Sometimes, they don't. Sometimes, they're the wrong ones. But there is always that nagging feeling that I need to get something written. It's a slog, sometimes, but always rewarding. There's a saying attributed to several writers over the years, and I think it fits: I don't enjoy writing. I enjoy having written. For the record, I do like the writing process, but boy, does it feel good when it's done.
How do you develop your plot and characters?
I'm trying to become an outliner, and I'm working on it. For "Girls Who Wear Glasses," I envisioned the characters in my head, and what their relationships were to each other. I come from an acting/theater background, so I first needed to establish each character's motivation - what is their overall goal? What do they want? From there, I mapped out what needed to happen for each of these goals to be met - or not. (People don't always get what they want, and there's something to be said for how they deal with that, too!) For my next Work-in-Progress, I'm going to be better about outlining - having a "roadmap" in place before I fill in the blanks.
Tell me about your protagonist. What's your favorite trait and/or weakness?
Rachel is a survivor. No matter the challenges, she keeps going. But it's come at a cost, and she's a bit emotionally shut-down. She has a good sense of humor, and is fiercely loyal to her friends. But you want to kick her in the butt sometimes, and say, "Get over it already!"
What are your current/future projects?
I also study sketch comedy writing at The Second City in Chicago, and I'm applying for their upper-level classes. I enjoy it immensely - the challenge of telling a full story, that has to be funny, in five pages or fewer.
As far as novel-writing, I'm in the research stages of a magical-realism story. Not quite Harry Potter-level, but what happens when your life is not what it seems, and you find powers you never knew existed? I'm researching Jewish magic/folktales/mysticism for inspiration.
What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you?
I'm fairly active on Twitter (@Jennifer_Inglis) so I can be followed there. Also, I have a blog at www.jenniferinglis.com. where I feature my short-form humorous essays.