It's time again!
That's right, you've got another author interview for you today, this time with Jenn Czep (who I got to meet in person last year at CoKoCon). J.J.M. Czep is published in a variety of magazines, blogs, and collections, as well as multiple novels. Her work is mostly fiction, with a few nods to reality now and again. She also tells stories through dance, sword choreography, music, podcasts, and reading the tarot.
If you are interested in more of Czep's adventures please visit her website at: www.easalle.com
Star Trek or Star Wars?
I mean, both! Why not both! Though maybe not at the same time.
Firefly – gone too soon or overrated?
Firefly was definitely gone too soon. There was so much potential in that show, and yet they eliminated some of the best characters and rushed the storyline just to give it closure. It just ended up being a disaster of an ending.
Coffee, tea, or cacao?
Coffee and cacao, though most days I need coffee just to survive. Cacao is a pleasantry.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I feel like I have always been a story teller, even before I could properly string a sentence together. I know I have always had far too many imaginary friends in my head and far too much time on my hands. I lived on the outskirts of a small village in upstate New York growing up, so there was little else to do but entertain myself with stories and adventures in the marshlands.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Most of my ideas tend to pop into my head with a scene or a character talking to me. Though the pirate series I am working on is based on friends and acquaintances I connected with through pirate cosplay and performance. So much of those stories are in jokes and thinly veiled actual events.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I typically have at least three days a week where I can really get work done for a solid eight to ten hours. On other days I try to at least squeeze in an hour a day between classes and rehearsals. I am constantly taking notes through the day when an idea strikes me, but the goal is to get at least three to four serial episodes completed on a long day, and to plot or edit for an hour otherwise. I also spend a lot of time journaling, and writing scripts for performances. I tend to feel off if I’m not writing something every day.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
The first book I wrote was in fifth or sixth grade, and I am currently stealing characters and concepts from it for one of my Vellas, Across the Lines, Space, and Time. The first real novel though in adulthood was Trolls. It was my first NaNoWriMo project and I was so proud of myself for getting to 50 thousand words in 2003, I was in my early twenties then, with a preschooler in the house. The book was later picked up by a local publisher in 2013, so that was incredibly exciting.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
When I am not writing I am bellydancing, sword fighting, playing music, reading tarot cards, drawing, creating costumes, and making massive changes to my house. My more academic friends call me a polymath, but most just say I’m nuts and have too many hobbies. But I really do enjoy learning new things and doing all sorts of projects.
Is there a trope you find yourself going back to in multiple works? Or one you avoid?
I think I may be addicted to portal fantasies. I have no idea how this became my fall back trope, but almost all of my stories have at least some reference to multiple dimensions or portals. I think it may eventually turn into a plot device to explain that all my worlds are actually all interconnected.
What does your family think of your writing?
I think my family still thinks its a phase or a hobby that happens to make a little bit of money. They don’t really think its something I can make a living on even though I have ghostwritten multiple projects, several of my own stories, and I have made a decent living at putting words on a page.
Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they?
I think the best advice I can give to new or aspiring writers is to read. Read widely and voraciously. Read in your own genre and in styles you aspire to emulate. Also read the good as well as the bad, and learn how to recognize the difference.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I think I am doing exactly what I wanted to do. I really see little Jenn being super impressed with the Czep I have become. I have always written stories, danced, created art, and made the world a more magical place, and I get to make a living doing so. Its not all rainbows all the time, but there are many times I want to pinch myself because I am lucky enough to be living what seems like a dream come true.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Writing is therapy for me. I actually do feel anxious, stressed, and just off when I don’t have time to write with consistency. There are weeks where because of events and shows I have very little time to just be alone with my thoughts and my keyboard, and I feel drained. After a good session of writing though, I am back to feeling like myself.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I have a lot of local writer friends, and have made a ton of connections through Vella. I will mention Avily Jerome, Ronald Tobin, MaryEllen Stepanitch and Jen Sequel here. The three of them motivate me more than they know. Each has their own style and approach to writing and I am always looking for ways to emulate their success as well.
Who shot first, Han or Greebo?
Han and he was totally justified.
What is the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything?
42 of course!
What does literary success look like to you?
Literary success to me is being able to call a project complete and send it out into the world. I feel like I accepted long ago that I will be much more posthumously famous, and I’m okay with that. I make a decent living off of my work, and I have a few dedicated fans who I adore. That’s what’s important right now.
What’s the best way to market your books?
I wish I knew!
What do you have coming next?
I currently have several Vellas available, and a few novels out in the world. I am looking forward to teaching more writing classes here in Arizona, and I am planning on taking on a couple of ghostwriting projects in the next few months as well. I may also look into turning my gothic Vella An Idea of Roses into a hardcover collector’s edition through KDP or other publishing outlet. If people are looking for me I would say try to keep up! I have some Tarot projects in the works too!