Jenn Thorson, author of There Goes the Galaxy, admits to weaving fiction in places where she can’t normally find a pen. Lucky for her readers, she manages to work around that inconvenience and put her words to the page. Besides her book, Jenn has written pieces for various journals and magazines. Jenn also maintains a website readers can visit. Her novel, There Goes the Galaxy, is a humorous jaunt into the science fiction genre featuring young Bertram, a college grad student who must save Earth from an extreme makeover. I was fortunate that Jenn took time from her busy schedule to grant me the interview that follows:
Can you identify a moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer? What was that moment like?
I was about 11 years-old when I knew I wanted to be a writer– and I blame my love of reading entirely for that. Nancy Drew was the initial culprit. I would go to yard sales with my Dad and gleefully come away with grocery bags of Nancy Drew mysteries like they were pirate plunder. With every book I read, I’d find new ideas and inspiration for my own stories. Reading whispered in my ear and compelled me to write.
Did anyone encourage you in your writing? Did that encouragement make a difference?
My mother was probably the first person to encourage me. When I started to write my own mystery novel just to entertain myself, I remember her being so incredibly surprised I was attempting it and that helped spur me to finish it. Eventually, she typed up my cryptic kid-writing into a readable piece. Writing in general is a pretty solitary practice, so having that early support helped get me going and gave me confidence.
Do you have a “day job” in addition to your career as an author?
I’m a marketing writer by day. I write brochures, ads, websites… you name it… for businesses. Blogging and writing fiction in my off-hours has allowed me to work on less serious material, but certainly writing professionally every day for my job has been invaluable practice.
Describe the self-discipline required to write a book. Do you have any writing rituals?
I usually have a few themes, characters and scenes in mind before I begin writing. I also usually have a good idea of where I want the book to go. I plot out the book in some detail, a handful of chapters at a time so I can retain some surprise for myself, and then I start writing. I tend to be very critical of my own language if I let me, so I’ve found I make my best progress if I can muzzle that critical brain and just write. My goal has been 1,000 words a day, though the schedule doesn’t always permit that. I try not to look back at what I’m writing as I’m writing it, so I don’t get hung up. After I’ve done a few chapters and have established some flow, then I go back and edit the heck out of everything. I’ll do that many, many times over the course of the book. I’ll set things aside and then look at it again with fresh eyes.
How would you describe your writing style?
I’d call it off-beat and visual. I went to school for writing and I learned so much through my screenwriting classes. I tend to think of scenes like scenes in a movie. The stories are often laid out like that.
Give a short summary of There Goes the Galaxy. And how did you come up with the idea for the story?
There Goes the Galaxy is a humorous space fantasy where my main character, psychology grad student Bertram Ludlow, discovers the Earth has been put up for sale on the intergalactic real estate market, and some alien entrepreneurs have some pretty creative ideas for its redevelopment. The idea for the story evolved a lot over time, but it’s mainly come from observing life here on Earth– how surreal, surprising and unintentionally comical everyday life can be. All the contradictions, frustrations and little wonders. I try to channel those so readers can still identify with the story and characters, even if it is bigger-than-life and located completely out-of-this-world.
What considerations went into your decision to become an indie author?
My main goal was just to be able to share the story with readers who might find the fun in the tale as I did. I’ve been blogging for over five years now, and independent publishing seemed a natural, logical off-shoot from that. I knew that even with traditional publishing these days, I would be required to do a lot more promotion; as a marketing writer professionally, I understood much of what that required. Independent publishing gave me the opportunity for greater control over the work. And my favorite part of the process has actually been seeing first-hand the reaction to the novel and its promotional efforts. It’s early days yet, but it’s been very enjoyable.
Are there any authors whose work has influenced you or whose style you particularly admire?
Absolutely– authors from Jean Shepherd, T.H. White and P.G. Wodehouse to Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett.
Do you have any encouragement or advice for aspiring writers?
Write because you love it and make sure that passion is channeled into your work, because if you do, others will inevitably get caught up in it, too. There’s a time to be critical of your work and a time to just write. A first draft is just a first draft– don’t pressure yourself to make it perfect. There’s time to edit later. Just write, see what happens. Good writing isn’t easy; it only looks that way.