Tuesday, January 12, 2010
I’ve never intentionally based a character on myself, but I find little things will creep in. Like a love of chocolate, for instance. In The Pastor’s Wife, I shared my love of the dramatic arts with Maura, the main character. Other than that, she’s pretty much her own woman.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Quirky… let me think... Back when they were filming Seabiscuit, I answered a call for unpaid extras at the Santa Anita racetrack. Due to the time period, they needed lots of men, so women were asked to dress accordingly. I wore a trench coat, slacks, dress shirt and tie. When I got there, they gave me a hat so I could hide my hair under it. You can’t pick me out of the crowd, but I’m in one of those race scenes, running to the rail in the infield. It was a long, fun day.
I know. I was an invited guest on the set for one day of filming of the movie JFK. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
When I was in grade school. Every time we had to do a report, I would write the longest one. If we had to write a short story, I wrote a novella. I was always writing something. In high school, I decided to write a book. I called it Like Roses. It contained the purplest prose you’ve ever read, but it was the first manuscript I was able to complete.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I’m fairly eclectic when it comes to reading. I enjoy historical novels with a bit of humor to them. I enjoy contemporary, character driven stories. Romances, of course. And I love a good thriller.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
You already know about my high school book. I wrote another in college called The First of May. It’s about a young woman who finds love when she joins a circus. That one got a nice rejection from Harlequin back in 1984. As for published books, The Love of His Brother – about a pregnant widow who falls in love with her dead husband’s brother - came out in November 2007. My latest, The Pastor’s Wife, releases Spring 2010 from Abingdon Press.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
When I start to feel really stressed it’s usually because I’ve gotten so busy that I haven’t taken time to read my Bible or pray. So making time for God is key. Also, my family and I are very close. My husband, son and I talk about everything and we laugh a lot.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Raising my teenage son! Seriously, I look at that kid and it just amazes me that I get to be his mom. What a blessing. He’s a fabulous human being.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
A horse, no doubt. They’re such beautiful creatures. I love the idea of running free, mane whipping in the wind. Of course, I’d have to be a free-range horse, because once you start carrying people around and doing work the fantasy is over.
What is your favorite food?
I’m a lover of chocolate. Within that category, my favorite is probably plain M&Ms. They’re the best because I actually suck on them one at a time, so a small bag can last me a good half hour.
I love M&Ms, too, but I really like to feel the crunch when I bite into them. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
My greatest problem was procrastination. I would put off writing, and put if off some more, and before I knew it, the week was over and I hadn’t written a thing. Part of that was fueled by fear. I think I was afraid of finding out I had nothing to say, or getting to a certain point and getting stuck. What helped me was participating in a book-in-a-month writing challenge with some members of ACFW. The accountability of reporting to the others kept me coming back to the computer. By the end of the month, I’d developed a habit. Now I try to write at least 1000 words a day, but I give myself permission to take weekends off. I feel much freer now, and procrastination is no longer an issue.
What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
Three things: Write like crazy. Read like crazy. And get some support so you don’t go crazy. Truly, the only way to become a better writer is to write. And reading feeds us. It’s like fuel for our creative fire. But writing can be a lonely occupation. I encourage every writer to join a group like American Christian Fiction Writers. Just being able to interact with other writers on the email loop is worth more than I can say.
Tell us about the featured book?
I’ve been a secretary for two different pastors, so I’ve had a good look at how crazy and hectic life can get for them and their families. Even though neither of my pastor friends had a marriage in crisis, this still gave me the “what if” for my book, The Pastor’s Wife. Here’s the blurb:
He loves me… he loves me not…
Maura Sullivan thought she knew what she was getting into when she married soon-to-be pastor Nick Shepherd. But when “the other woman” in her marriage turned out to be her husband's congregation, she ran. Three years later, she’s back in the small community of Granger, Ohio, for the reading of a will that names both her and Nick as beneficiaries. Now Maura must face the husband – and the congregation – she left behind.
Sounds intriguing. How can readers find you on the Internet?
I’m kind of all over the internet right now.
I have a website, http://www.jenniferallee.com/ ,
and a blog, http://jenniferallee.blogspot.com/ .
I’m also on Facebook (Jennifer AlLee) and Twitter (j_allee).
Come on over and visit me some time!
Thanks for inviting me to your blog, Lena. It’s been lots of fun!
And we enjoyed spending this time with you, Jennifer.
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