Soapbox Spotlight: Jennifer Donohoe
Welcome to another Soapbox Spotlight! Today’s Spotlight is with Jennifer Donohoe, a fantasy young adult novelist. She’s here to share her ideas on writing and talk to us about her new novel, Willow’s Journey.
Tell us about yourself.
I currently live in Northeast Ohio with my daughter. I work as an In-Home Felony Juvenile Therapist. However, my love is writing, and I started writing (from what I’m told) since I could hold a crayon. My hobbies include landscape photography, horseback riding, and watching horror films. I enjoy authors such as Dickens and Edgar Allen Poe.
I’m a big Poe fan too! And I also come from a background in mental health. What inspires you to write and why?
Life in general has always inspired me to write. However, music has been the greatest inspiration. Depending on my mood, any genre song could spark a small fire for a story idea then if it continues to grow, I’ll keep working with it until I can get a basic story from it. Music and life can be interpreted in so many different ways and finding a common theme for a story has always been easy for me.
I’m a BIG music fan. What first attracted you to your genre?
I enjoy reading the fantasy genre. However, this is not the reason I write in it. I write in it because it is open and the creation process can be so much more vivid or open with fantasy. Plus I wanted to be able to write in a genre where more kids will read and still be able to teach some moral lesson from it.
What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?
Grammar and editing are the hardest for me. I was the kid who had a grammar teacher tell me that I needed to know the rules of grammar because I would need them in the future. I told the teacher I didn’t need to know them at all. Even though I loved to write, I refused to learn them. So, now I’m faced with the proverbial “I told you so.” Editing (as you may guess – grammar) is the next hardest thing for me. I have the hardest time finding any mistake that is related to grammar.
What is your greatest strength as a writer?
From what I’m told, my EOC’s are always good. I have it built in somewhere to automatically build up to a tension-filled scene and end the chapter. Sometimes when I don’t do this, I’m always asked to up the conflict in the scene. I’ve also been told that I tell a story like I’m in the room. The reader feels connected to the story as though I was telling it to them directly.
Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
I have had writer’s block several times. Usually, I try to do something else to take my mind off the work. I’ll usually take photos, watch a movie, or read. Any of these things can inspire a new scene or solve a problem with a character. I find killing off a character helps sometimes too.
Wow; I pity the characters! Tell us a little about your latest work.
While I’m working on the sequel to The Legend of the Travelers: Willow’s Journey, I’ve been working on another book called Fly Away. It’s been compared to a grown-up version of The Neverending Story. It’ll be Urban Fantasy and should be out after the new year.
Does the writing get easier with each new book?
After I thought about this question, I can say, “yes, the writing has gotten easier for me.” I’m able to monitor what I write more now, and it’s easier for me to get a closer-to-finished project after a few times. I believe the first chapter in Willow’s Journey was revised over 40 times. The first three over 20 times.
How did you come up with the title?
For the most part, my titles are what inspire the stories. I usually have them first. If I have a hard time with a title then I re-evaluate whether I have a good story or not. I know it sounds strange, but I guess each of us have our little vices.
Would or have you considered writing in another genre?
I consider myself a story-driven author. I have been working on a horror/thriller with an author friend and a few other books I have in mind may come close to contemporary or paranormal. I just write the story that comes to me. I don’t like boxing myself in and just allow my characters to tell me what they want.
I feel the same way about that. Confines stifle the story. Before you go, do you have any advice for other writers?
Join a critique group. I cannot stress enough the importance of having others read your work and offer help or suggestions. By far, this has helped me the most in my writing career. I cannot even say where I’d be without the two groups (Internet Writing Workshop and Critique Circle) I participate in.
Thanks for stopping by today, Jennifer!
Thanks for having me, Ray!
You can find Jennifer’s book at the following links: