Jennifer, can you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born and lived in Texas until I was nine. After a brief period in Colorado, my family moved to Salinas, California, and I've lived in some part of California ever since. I truly am a (Northern) California girl at heart despite my southern roots. I've been writing stories since second grade, and although my attic is full of hundreds of pages of writing, I never came close to finishing a piece until I put my mind to writing my first novel, A Part to Play.
My other passions are art and teaching, both of which I do professionally. I met the love of my life when I was only seventeen and we've been together ever since (coming up on fifteen years). We don't have any children but we have two dogs and a cat so we have plenty of adventures. And most recently, my husband and I started our own business teaching after school and summer digital media arts classes. I hope someday that the combination of writing and running my business will support me so I can quit my 'day' job. Just gotta keep working hard to make that happen.
Do you prefer
Milk chocolate or Dark?
Definitely a good quality dark chocolate.
Coke or Pepsi?
Pepsi tastes overly sweet, so I like Coke better.
Almond Joy or Mounds?
Neither, I'd rather have a Twix.
Romance or a Thriller?
I love a good romance built into a bigger story about personal change.
Mystery or Horror?
Mysteries for sure. Some of my earliest reading favorites were Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries.
Did you always want to be an author?
According to my parents, I've been telling stories since I was old enough to talk, and writing stories since I learned to put pencil to paper. Writing is very much a part of who I am and how I experience the world, so I would say I have always had an innate passion for writing. I've wanted to become a published author since I was in high school, but I put that goal aside to pursue my interest in graphic design and teaching, and now I've come back full circle.
What authors had an impact on you growing up and as an adult?
I practically devoured books when I was a kid – there are so many great authors it's difficult to list them all. Lucy Maud Montgomery, William Pène du Bois, E. L. Konigsburg, Wilson Rawls, to name a few. Now, John Green is the author I most admire. He writes these amazingly sharp, spot-on young-adult novels that always leave me thinking afterward.
Did anyone in your life influence you or encouraged you to be a writer?
Many people did! Everyone around me seemed to recognize my strong story-telling nature, and encouraged me to keep at it. I remember receiving a book from one of my grandparents called Writing Your First Novel when I was in eighth grade. I had a fantastic English teacher in high school who recognized my potential, and also ways I needed to grow. She gave me great books to read. She challenged me to put more depth in my writing. I thought of her the day I received copies of my book in print, so I looked her up and sent her a signed book to thank her for her help all those years ago. And of course now, as people review my debut novel, their feedback encourages me to keep at it!
What is your writing atmosphere like?
A comfortable seat – the leather chair in my library or the cozy couch in my living room. A laptop. A cup of hot tea. And silence – I turn off my phone, close my email, and don't listen to music. I need complete focus because when I write I am inside of the story.
What is your favorite aspect or writing? Your Least Favorite?
My absolute favorite part is writing the first draft. That's when I can just let the story unfold organically. It often feels like I am discovering the story as I write it – it's this incredible feeling, as natural as breathing.
My biggest challenge is allowing the words to flow without self-editing. I have to turn off the inner critic long enough to tell the story that I want to tell – which takes a concerted effort on my part.
Your current book your promoting is:
A Part to Play is about fifteen-year-old actress Lucy Carter who is sent away to a prestigious performing arts boarding school to escape the complete breakdown of her family; she is lost without the support of her parents, until she meets a mysterious musician whose talent, passion and own insecurities teach her to rediscover her love of being on stage and more importantly that she holds the key to her own identity.
How did you come up with the story line?
In planning A Part to Play, I started with the emotional journey I wanted my main character to experience. I knew immediately I wanted to write a young adult story, and I wanted my story to have a strong message – that is, the importance of believing in oneself. Then, to develop my plot, I thought of my most favorite stories of all time from movies, plays, and books. One of these happens to be The Phantom of the Opera. I didn't want my book to be a retelling of that classic story, but rather I wanted it to draw inspiration from what I considered the most captivating parts. I loved the mystery and the powerful role that music played in the story; I also found the dark side of the Phantom intriguing.
How do you choose your characters names?
Naming characters is challenging, especially last names. I start with names that I like because I figure I am going to be writing and saying them frequently. Sometimes I try out names that get changed in a later revision because I find that the name no longer fits the character. Often, I will assign a moniker based on my personal associations with that name, be it good or bad. And finally, I try to avoid using names of people in my immediate circle of friends and family unless I am using it as a tribute, mostly to avoid confusion.
~A Part to Play~When fifteen-year-old actress Lucy Carter loses her older sister in a car accident, her mother shuts down and her father can’t hold the family together. Their only choice is to ship Lucy off to the Edmond School for Performing Arts. But boarding school is no cure for Lucy’s grief. With failing grades, wooden stage performances, and curfew violations, Lucy is threatened with expulsion. For the once talented Lucy, it feels as though she has nowhere to turn.
One night, Lucy hears mysterious music drifting through the school’s old heating system. The music leads her to a troubled but passionate songwriter whose brilliance gives her the strength to perform like never before. Yet their intense relationship puts Lucy in a precarious position: if she follows her muse, will she lose herself? And if she breaks it off, can she stand on her own again?
An image of a shattered crystal vase materialized in her mind. It was her mother's favorite thing, an heirloom passed down from her grandmother, usually found prominently displayed in the center of the dinner table filled with freshly cut flowers. The girls weren't supposed to touch it. About a month after Kate's funeral, dead flowers drooped over its edges, the water inside a brownish slime. No one seemed to notice. Lucy returned home from school one afternoon, the house silent per usual. She couldn't stand the sight of the wilted bouquet for another second, so she dropped the flowers in the trash and rinsed the vase in the sink.
Her mother padded into the kitchen just as Lucy dried the vase with a towel. She turned to look at her mother and suddenly the vase slipped from her hands, shattering against the porcelain tile with a sound that echoed through Lucy's very being. She cringed, waiting for her mother's reaction. But there was hardly a flicker of acknowledgment, just a quiet sigh, as her mother turned and left the room. Later that evening, her dad didn't even mention the white gauze wrapped around Lucy's hand where she'd cut herself cleaning up the glass fragments.
They hadn't shown much concern for her when she lived at home those months after the funeral, so she didn't see why they would be worried about her grades now. Somewhere in the back of her mind, in a place she'd nearly hidden from herself, she wanted to cry to her dad about how hard it was being without them. But then anger welled up. Why did they care now, about this?
Jennifer L. Fry is a writer, artist, and teacher in Marin County, California, where she lives with her wonderful husband, two adorable dogs, and orange tabby cat. Though she has been writing since she was young, A PART TO PLAY is her first novel.
Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/jenniferlfry
Author Website: http://www.jenniferlfry.com/home/
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