By Jennie Jarvis
Here at 5Writers we’re providing some insight into our current projects. Once we’re done, we are passing on some info about some other writers whose work we dig. So, here’s what Jennie has on the horizon.
What is the working title of your project? I’m continuing to work on my YA fantasy series The Books of Mettara. The first novel, The Book of Melanie, is about to begin getting shopped by my agent for publication, so I’m sure I’ll have some editor notes to address in the near future. I’ve also finalized the outline for the second book, The Book of Nemesis, and I’ll be starting the actual pen to paper writing on that in the next week or two.
Where did the idea come from? As with many of my ideas, this story came from a conglomeration of influences. A major influence, though, came from two inspiration books that have guided me in moments of doubt: Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way and Paulo Coehlo’s The Alchemist. In The Artist’s Way, the source of all creative inspiration is divine (from God), and in The Alchemist, the Universe (the divine) will do anything to make the dreams of an individual come true when they are on the right path. By coupling these ideas together, I found a very powerful form of the divine that had the power to accomplish miraculous things on earth. I coupled this with a bit of a well-known writer’s anxiety – the idea of all literature moving to electronic platforms. As writer’s, we love pen and paper, and the idea of those tools going away can feel like some kind of apocalypse.
My protagonist, Melanie Hardage, was in a large part inspired by Melanie Moore, the winner of Season Seven of the reality competition show So You Think You Can Dance. From her first appearance on the show, she had this internal glow of innocence, hope and goodness that radiated from her. She is one of the few contestants to ever appear on the show that were never up for elimination as a result. While my book has absolutely nothing to do with dance, and my protagonist is so physically weak that a career as a dancer is laughable, the personality that Melanie Moore exuded really helped me to shape the young woman that I would throw into my spiritual yet violent future world.
For the rest of my characters, many personalities were shaped by roles performed by some of my favorite actors, and the characters were named after them as a result. Andrew Garfield’s character in Never Let Me Go inspired the character of Andrew. Rachel Weisz’s performance in About A Boy helped to shape Scholar Rachel, and Kate Winslet’s performance in Contagion (not the best movie, but it works for what I needed) inspired the strength of Scholar Kate.
What genre does your project fall under? While I have written it as a young adult coming of age fantasy novel, there is a chance that it might be sold as a core (general fiction) book or a New Adult novel (a new genre that helps to cover that gap in literature between YA and Adult fiction).
If you found yourself in an elevator with a movie director you admire and had the chance to pitch your project to them, what would you say? Honestly, I worked in film long enough to know that, until the book is published, there isn’t really anything that I could say. I might tell them that I have a book in the works and ask how I can submit it to their company once it’s published, but a movie director can’t do anything with just an idea. They need a completed project to pitch.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? This is a hard one since the characters are supposed to be 16, and anyone that I chose today would be too old by the movie was put into production. However, if the movie went into production today, I would love to have Samantha Barks play Melanie. She just made her debut playing Eponine in Les Miserables, and I immediately thought of Melanie as I watched her. She could also be a good Sarah, but I’d love to see her in the leading role. I would also love to cast Freida Pinto (Lataka in Slumdog Millionaire) as Celeste.
As I mentioned above, there are some actors that inspired different roles and so I would love to cast some of them. Kate Winslet is the only person that I can picture for Scholar Kate, and Christoph Waltz would make a wonderful Scholar Christopher. If Andrew Garfield can continue to look young, then I’d love to have him as Andrew as well. Of course, none of this means anything to those of you who haven’t read the book, and since it isn’t published yet, that’s most of you!
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your project? In a future America where digital information is lost and electricity is a thing of the past, Melanie Hardage is selected to take part in an elite program that attempts to commune with the Gods in order to recreate the world’s lost literature.
Will you self-publish or be represented by an agency? I have a fantastic agent, and I know that she will help my book find a great home at a traditional publishing house. However, if that isn’t the path that it’s meant to be on, that I know she will help me find a great digital publisher.
How long did it take you to write the first draft? I’ve been called a machine many times, both as a screenwriter and a novelist. This novel really only took me about three months, writing part time, from idea to complete draft. I’ve been rewriting it a bit since then, addressing some clarification notes and minor grammar issues, but none of my rewrites needed to be that intense. I plan very thoroughly so my rewriting process isn’t too intense.
What else about your project might pique the reader’s interest? I made a very conscious effort to make this a very diverse book. There are a lot of cultures and colors in this world, including disabilities.
And here are some authors I’d like to introduce, and who you can follow when they answer the Next Big Thing questions…
Gracie Pardon, a self-published author originally from Cuba, is a graphic designer by day, writer by night. She also dabbles in photography, painting, and all things art. How to Lose Yourself in One Year or Less is not her first book, but it is the first to appear in print. She has posted online before to over 200,000 readers. She currently lives with her family in Miami, Florida, and she is hard at work on her second novel. http://www.gpadron.com/
Eric Wyatt is a writer and educator living in Bradenton, Florida. His work has appeared in print and online at Ozone Park Journal, Eunoia Review, and The First Line, among others. He received his BA in Education from Ball State University and is a graduate of the MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte. He blogs regularly at Stories I Read, Stories I Tell (http://ericswyatt.wordpress.com) and helps other writers find their words at Words Matter Creative Writing Instruction. (http://www.WordsMatterESW.com)
Liz Rizzo is a blogger and director living in Los Angeles. She works in the entertainment industry and plays whenever she can. Dreamer since 1971, Angelino since 2002, blogger since 2005. Everyday Goddess is her personal blog where she writes about all the things she’s passionate about: Television, Directing, Reading, Cooking… http://everydaygoddess.typepad.com/
Sarah Reckenwald is a self-published young adult author and high school English teacher. She is based out of St. Augustine, Florida, a city that she found to be the perfect backdrop for her book Flames in the Midst. She is currently working on Dreams in the Midst, the sequel to her well received first book, and she can be found online at http://sarahreckenwald.weebly.com/.