Telling y'all that I am excited to have author Jennifer Echols on the blog today is a HUGE understatement. What I really want to be doing is jumping up and down, squealing like a total fangirl & throwing copies of her books in all of your faces. THAT is how much I adore this woman. Her writing is some of the best contemporary fiction I've ever read, and I truly mean that. As part of the Sweet Summertime Reads feature, hosted by myself, Fiction Folio & Rather Be Reading, I chose to give away a few of my favorite Jennifer Echols books. But I went a little beyond that & asked the woman herself if she'd answer a few of my own questions right here on the blog as part of this fabulous summer feature. So sit back, relax, grab a fruity drink & fall in love with this incredible writer...
That is so kind of you! I think anybody who makes a living as a writer was a huge reader first. That’s certainly true of me. I loved books so much when I hit middle school that I decided this was something I would like to do for a living. My grandmother was a writer who never got published but who did send out a few query letters, so it never occurred to me that I couldn’t be a writer too.
But maybe it should have. My career path hasn’t been easy! I finished my first novel when I was 20, and though I signed on with my first literary agent at 22, I didn’t sell a book until age 35. That was a long and frustrating time to feel like I was on the cusp of publication. In the meantime, I earned an MA in literature and most of a PhD in rhetoric and composition, a subspecialty of English that studies how people use language and learn to write. I also worked as a freelance writer and editor. Any job that dealt with words, I would do. It might not be my dream job of writing novels, but it was better than nothing.
I wish I could say I’m happy today that it took me so long to get published. I’m not. But it is what it is. And I do think the long run-up gave me some advantages. I’m honestly grateful every day for the career I have and the readers who have made it possible. And I had a long time to hone my craft and think very hard about what makes a novel delicious. If my writing really is seamless--I hope so!--that is by design. I still study other people’s novels, read lots of books on writing craft, and try to make my own novels as absorbing as I can.
They’re always real places, and I see them that way in my mind, but on paper I change the place name so I can fudge the details in order to make the story better. For instance, my favorite setting of the ones I’ve used is Lake Martin, AL, where I grew up--the setting of The Boys Next Door and Endless Summer. There are two main bridges over the lake, and both have marinas nearby, but the setting of the book is a combination of both places. Because I can do that.
I have to ask – do any of your fictional boys come from real life characters? Out of all these delicious young males you've captured in your books, who has stuck out in your mind as a favorite? Feel free to give more than one as an answer, I know I would!
Awww, how sweet! I never write about real people. The story is the most important thing, and the character has to fit into the story. If you tried to put a real person into a fictional story, the story would suffer because you were trying so hard to be true to the person, or the real person would have to change into someone unrecognizable. It just doesn’t work.
You’re going to think this is a cop-out, but it’s true: My favorite hero is always the one I’m writing at the moment. He has to be, or I’m not doing it right.
The story is set in a fictional beach town inspired by Myrtle Beach, SC. But the airport is the one I got dragged to by my pilot dad when I was growing up. There really isn’t much to a small-town airport: one runway, a tiny office with a porch so people can hang out and watch the planes take off, and rental hangars made of corrugated metal, all surrounded by the forest and baking in the southern springtime sun. What makes a story fun for me is to take a sleepy setting like that and wake it up with the characters and their drama and their pain and their love and their inability to leave each other alone.
Since this is part of our Sweet Summertime Reads feature, please share with us your favorite summertime books to read.
Oooh, some of my favorites that make me happy just thinking about them: Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore, In Your Room by Jordanna Fraiberg, and Two-Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt.
Have any interesting plans made for this summer?
I have a trip planned for one of my favorite places in the world and the setting of Forget You, a beach town between Destin and Panama City in Florida. You can also find me at the Romance Writers of America conference in L.A. in late July. I’ll be doing research there for my second adult romance with Simon & Schuster, which is currently scheduled for publication in January 2014 (the first is coming out in March 2013--I’m so excited!).
Thanks so much for having me, Ginger!
To know more about Jennifer Echols, visit her website here.
Be sure to follow her on twitter too: @JenniferEchols
GIVEAWAY: ENDLESS SUMMER + PREORDER OF SUCH A RUSH
(ending soon - Friday, June 15th @ midnight)
(ending soon - Friday, June 15th @ midnight)