Jenny is the author of the newly released novel, Passing Through and the short story, When the Wolf Comes. Passing Through is a supernatural mystery where the main character, Dana, travels between the afterlife and life on earth, to help a newly deceased man find out what happened to his wife and she ends up uncovering truths about her own death.
Where did you get the idea for Passing Through?
I had seen one of those investigative journalism shows—probably Dateline, because at that time it was on at least six days a week, it seemed. And I got to thinking about the assumptions we make about each other, and how quickly we jump to conclusions. But things are often more complicated than they appear at first glance, and that was a starting place for the story. As far as the afterlife element goes, once I had an idea of who my characters were and what they had at stake, I began to ponder the question of how late is too late? And how far would they and could they go to try make things right?
Can you give some insight into your writing process for this book?
My writing process for this one was pretty messy. I didn’t outline or do character studies or use any of the great methods and tools other authors talk about. Once the seed of the idea was planted, it pretty much grew on its own, often in unintended directions, and I had to do lots and lots of pruning. Now when I write, I’m trying to be more disciplined and organized. But I still have to let the story lead the way. I write in my head a lot, especially when I’m in the shower or walking the dog. I don’t use note cards or sticky notes (either real or virtual), though I hear those are quite helpful! I jot things down in random places.
How long have you wanted to be a writer?
Probably forever. I’ve always had the kind of brain that likes to make up stories. But it took me a long time to get really serious about it. I didn’t taking any writing classes in college, and I thought that because putting words together was easy for me, that meant I was good at it. I wrote lots and lots of pretty awful stuff (I think I had every bad writing habit in the book) and didn’t share it with anyone besides my patient family. I wish I had known then what I know now—that conferences, classes, and critique groups are invaluable.
What books and authors do you enjoy?
First of all, I can’t say enough about how important reading is for writers. I grew up with the stories of Ray Bradbury, Agatha Christie, Edger Allan Poe, and Grimm’s fairy tales. I still return to those from time to time. These days, I’m not particularly committed to any one author or genre. I tend to stay away from anything too dark, graphic, or creepy, because once it’s in my head, I have a hard time getting rid of it. I love discovering new voices and styles, and I’m in awe of how many immensely talented authors there are in the world. I hope to be one of them someday!
What’s the hardest part of being a writer?
Time-management is always a challenge for me, but the hardest part is leaving my comfort zone, especially for marketing and self-promotion.
What do you hope readers get from your book?
I just want them to feel that reading it was time well-spent, that I did the story and characters justice.