Thursday, February 3, 2011

Interview with Jennifer Probst

Yesterday, we featured an interview with young author Taylor Probst. Today, in Part 2 of our feature, we talk with Taylor's aunt Jennifer, who is a successful romance author. Welcome, Jennifer!

What would you like readers to know about you as an introduction?

I have always known I wanted to be a writer, and started spinning high school romance tales when I was a pre-teen. My journey has been filled with hard work, rejections, and seeing my dreams of being published come true. Along the way, I had my own happily-ever-after when I met my husband and had two beautiful boys. Now, the writing is a bit harder to accomplish, my life is chaotic, and my house is never clean, but it's so worth it!

You have been writing since you were a kid and have had much success as a writer yourself. How does it feel to now see your niece Taylor blossom as a writer?

Watching my niece create a story and see it develop into print is an amazing experience. She is like my daughter, and I am so proud of what she has accomplished. She's learned a lot about working hard and not giving up on what she wants. Watching someone you love grow into a beautiful young woman is a humbling experience.

How did you first get started writing?

I knew my whole life. When I was in sixth grade, we had to complete a career report and I did mine on being a writer. I wrote teen romances and read them to my friends, and passed them around school. It was only a matter of time before I began seriously submitting to publishers and honing my craft.

What is your writing process like? Do you write on a computer? In a spiral notebook?

I am only comfortable writing on the computer because I type an insane amount of words per minute, and my fingers can't keep up with my brain if I'm writing longhand. I don't have a set writing schedule -- with a hectic household I write any time I can squeeze in a moment.

I'm assuming that helping Taylor write and publish Buffy and The Carrot was a much different experience than when you write your novels. Can you talk about this a bit?

Absolutely. I have been published in the romance market and am comfortable with the environment. I never ventured into the children's market but after my boys were born, I thought I would try if I found a great story. Once Taylor told me the story of Buffy, I knew it was special. We sat together one morning in the diner over breakfast and we wrote out the story longhand on the back of a placemat -- she had only the verbal version at the time. Then we agreed we would try to get it published. She was involved in every step of the way: editing, deciding on illustrations and what she imagined Buffy looking like, the cover, etc.

Again, writing a book and publishing one is a very different experience. I sent out a few queries for the book but received rejections. I then contacted Strategic Publishing about their program and found it a perfect fit. They accepted the book and we all agreed to publish the book in a more non-traditional way. Then we needed an illustrator and my best friend's husband is a fantastic artist. He agreed to do the illustrations so I feel like the book is almost a family event.

What have you learned or been reminded of about writing from Taylor? 

The story is the most important. Tell a great story and the possiblities are endless. Marketing and agents and sales are important but she reminded me to go back to basics.

How do you get ideas for what you write?

Everywhere. I have a long commute to work so I do a lot of daydreaming. As a writer, I believe ideas lurk in every corner of the world -- it is our job to unearth them. Every conversation or encounter is the idea for a story. You just need to find the one that is interesting enough for you at the time. That will change as life progresses.

What is your biggest advice for young people reaching for their dreams?

Believe in yourself. If you have a dream, work hard and go after it. There will be a million people ready to tell you to give up -- rejection is everywhere. Dig deep and believe you can do it and the possibilities are endless. People used to pat my head and call my writing a "nice little hobby." I received tons of rejections but I dug deep and kept trying. Eventually, I found an editor who loved my voice. It's a long journey and it's hard, but if you do the work and don't give up, I believe you will get there.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Competition is fierce and the market changes on a dime. Write what you want. Write your dream -- the book you believe in and has to be written. If you can't sell it, write another one. I had to write five full length novels before I got published. It's the journey that is everything -- not the goal. Sure, it's wonderful being published but it's not the end of your career -- only the beginning.

Young adults need to be encouraged to love books and write what they want. We need to encourage them every step of the way.

Dallas, on a side note, you are an inspiration to many people out there and I really aprpeciate being able to be on your blog.

Happy writing, everyone!

Contact Jennifer:


charmainegordon author said...

Dynamite interview with a lot of encouragement to writers of all ages. Thanks for the interesting post, Jennifer and Dallas.

Dallas said...

Thank you so much!

Wendy S Marcus said...

Sorry I'm late. Busy busy around here! Jen is a great writer. I love her books! And Buffy and the Carrot did not disappoint!