1. What books/authors have influenced you and why?
Stories have sheltered me from the chaos of life since I learn to read from the "Little Bear" series by Else Holmelund Minarik, and "The Frog and Toad Treasury" by Arnold Lobel. Jamberry by Bruce Degen is one of my favorite artistic picture books because it is full of free-spirited fun and life. For me, the Queens of chapter books are Mary Pope Osborne, Beverly Cleary, and Barbara Park. These women have saved many rotten days for me as both a kid and adult. In middle school and high school, I devoured novels by S.E. Hinton, C. S. Lewis, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Carolyn Keene (Aka: Mildred Benson, the original Nancy Drew), Susan Cooper, and Scott O'Dell because of their mystery and adventure, which I longed for as a teenager. However, Jane Yolen is my favorite author as I admire her amazing career and the masterful books that span all ages and genres.
2. How do you develop your plot and characters?
For me, characters always come first inspired by a dream I have, a voice I hear, or a scene I see. They develop throughout the story like spilled paint that flows where it wants to and forms shapes you cannot guess at first. When I add more characters, it is like paint colors flowing together and forming something new and different. One color may cause another to become a different color or to change directions. However, the main character stays the focal point color throughout the story.
Plotting is more systematic for me. I enjoy using the three-act structure of the Hero’s Journey developed by Joseph Campbell.
3. Tell me about your protagonist. What's your favorite trait and/or weakness?
My favorite trait about Mia in LOVE ART is that she shows unconditional love even when she is lonely and scared.
4. Same with your antagonist.
The antagonist in LOVE ART is separation and PTSD. I like how this story shares the struggles of life for some military families, first responders and more in a realistic way. I hope children and families dealing with PTSD can gain hope for healing and know they are not alone.
5. What are your current/future projects?
I am working on a middle grade novel entitled CAMP ENDANGERED: Tangle with Bojangle. When a tech-addicted boy is sent to a no-tech-allowed summer work camp, he must figure out how to save two African Bush elephants and himself from death without his tech aids.
I would also like to finish a young adult novel entitled THE MAPLE KEY. After a self-loathing teen lets bullies push around his younger sister with Down syndrome, he must battle his own demons and choose between his popular friends and abusive girlfriend or his sister and self-forgiveness.
6. What has been a fascinating writing research experience for you? Does a memory stick with you?
I have enjoyed researching elephants especially my trip to the Endangered Ark Foundation (https://www.endangeredarkfoundation.org/).
7. Do you have a routine you follow when writing?
I write for an hour in the mornings before I go to work and every Saturday morning.
8. What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you? (website, blog, social media?) Please include links.
My website: jillenedonaldson.com, which is a work in progress.
9. If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
Finding a personal balance between family, faith, work, and my passion of writing has been key for my overall performance. Once I mastered my personal balance, I could focus on doing one project well and follow up with persistent queries and/or submissions. I would also tell myself to learn early on, what my weaknesses are as a writer and take steps to overcome them to be a professional.
10. What does literary success look like to you?
I would consider myself successful if the stories I am passionate about are in the hands of readers and they take away a soul-healing nugget. For example, when I read QUEEN’S OWN FOOL by Jane Yolen and Robert Harris, I remembered that kindness and beauty flourishes even in the most horrible circumstances.