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Author Interview: Jen Karner

How did you become a writer? I started writing stories when I was in grade school, so I think I’ve always been a writer. I found out people created stories, and I was immediately all in. The earliest story I can remember putting to paper was in elementary school, and by the time I hit double digits I was telling people I wanted to be a writer when I grew up.

What inspires you to write?

I really just love asking “What if” and then falling down the rabbit hole. I love bringing a little bit of magic into the world and stories are the best kind of magic there is. The world is full of these tiny mysteries, and I’ve been inspired by music, movies, walks in the park and even dreams.

How do you develop your plot and characters?

I spend a lot of time talking to myself. I also journal about my stories, use index cards to track character or plot arcs, and I love a good craft book. I get a lot of my initial ideas while on walks, or when out and about and it becomes something I sort of...uncover as I write and work through it.

Could you share some of your challenges as a writer?

I always have problems carving out a set time or routine to write, and I run into a lot of problems in the first act of my novels because I like to discover the story as I write. This means that I don’t know whether I’ve got it right until I’m 20,000 words in, which can be frustrating.

Tell me about your protagonist. What's your favorite trait and/or weakness?

Dani is such a sarcastic jerk, that she can’t help herself sometimes. It’s a ton of fun because I think everyone has a mouthy sarcastic friend who can both get themselves in—and out of trouble with their mouth alone.

How does your antagonist create conflict? Spectre is an all-around bad guy, and he has been for centuries. His conflict is rooted in the fact that he murders a lot of people, and has been stalking others. There isn't really anything that's nice, good, or chill about him so everything he does is rooted in one kind of conflict or another.

What are your current/future projects?

Right now I’m working on a horror novel about cults, and sacrifice inside of a small town. It’s about the secrets we keep, and the sacrifices we make, and where the line is drawn. In the future, I’m hoping to keep working in contemporary fantasy and horror, but I don’t have any concrete ideas lined up.

Do you have a routine you follow when writing? Not really. I write on a macbook, and keep a journal of notes as I work, so as long as I have one or the other I can work. I’ve written at home, on trains, and even in the car if inspiration strikes. It’s why I keep the journal with me most of the time.

If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be? Just keep writing. I spent a lot of years thinking I’d never get published because I just wanted to write badass sapphic women doing things, and now I’m here so. Just keep writing, and you’re gonna get there. This is advice I actually have on a necklace that I never take off, so it's daily advice that I try to give myself.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers? I think it’s the same thing I’d say to myself: Just keep writing. Even if it isn’t fiction, you’re building the muscles that let you sit down and get things done. The more you write, the better you get, so even just journaling will help you to better your craft.

* What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you?

They can follow me on twitter and IG @articulatedream!

Bio: Jen Karner is a queer writer and nerd living in the Baltimore area with her partner and their rescue dog. A feminist banshee, she enjoys listening to true-crime podcasts, marathoning horror movies, and writing about sharp girls with complex emotions. Cinders of Yesterday is her debut novel.


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