How is it Monday already?
Didn't we just have one of these?
Oh, last week you say?
Huh. That explains a bunch!
Today we have Jenna O'Malley dropping in, a return to our fair website. Let's put the "How to contact Jenna and buy her books!" right here:
For all other things Jenna O'Malley: https://linktr.ee/jennathesoulwriter
And now let's hear from Jenna!
1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Probably when I was a teenager, to be honest. I started writing as early elementary or middle school for fun, but it really took off in high school and college. Teaching English for grades 6-12 and creative writing classes required more creative energy and outlets than I had to spare, so I took a long time off from writing—until 2020 hit.
2. Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
I’m the quintessential Lady Nerd who taught English for a decade, so: documentaries, primary source research through historical and scientific academic journals, you know… the academic stuff my students hate hearing me talk about? lol
3. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Read, watch anime, play video games, go for walks, jam out to metal music, or shoot archery.
4. What does your family think of your writing?
My husband is my biggest fan. He’s the reason why I published the Arsinoëphorus Alliance first. Without him, I doubt I would have continued writing for so long.
5. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
The common answer of learning who I am as a writer applies here, along with accepting that I am and forever will always be my own worst critic.
6. Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Listen to every skill your English teacher ever tried to teach you—if you are still in school, make this your writing priority to seek out your teachers for whom you write a lot. They can help you to spot weaknesses in your own work. Otherwise, if you are a working adult: find your writing tribe. You do NOT want a group full of “yes people” who stroke your ego. Make sure you have a lovely mix of people that don’t mind knocking you off your high horse when needed, too.
7. What do you think makes a good story?
I hate to use the stereotypical answer, but it is the best in my opinion. Without conflict and relatable characters, stories don’t go anywhere. I think a lot of writers fail in the conflict department when they focus too much on other things. How high should those stakes be in relation to the conflict? Like cheese on a pizza: once you think you’ve had enough, add in a dash more for good measure.
8. As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
Two things, really, and I accomplished both. I wanted to be a teacher or a writer. Dreams come true, a baby step at a time, and more quietly than we think they might. Therefore, enjoy the tiny celebrations.
9. What is the first book that made you cry?
Elementary school was cruel to introduce me to my favorite chapter book as a third grader: Charlotte’s Web ripped my heart out and did a tap dance on it.
10. Does writing energize or exhaust you?
I’m one of those weirdos who find writing to be quite therapeutic. If I’m having a bad day, sitting down to a battle writing session or a good political debate scene is quite the stress reliever.
11. What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Stop trying to copy everything else you read in every book you pick up. Not everything is going to work for you the same way it does for other writers, and that is 100 percent okay. Your process is your process. Don’t fight it. Own it like the boss you are!
12. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Jenna O’Malley is just that. While the first name is the same, the last name is in honor of Irish folklore legend, Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley. As an Irish lady myself, I thought it appropriate to pay homage to one of my ancestor’s strongest females.
13. What do you have coming next?
Please check my linktree for all the fabulous giveaways, newsletters, YouTube Livestreams, Book Tours, and more coming out in February. Valentine’s Day 2022 also marks the one-year anniversary of my becoming published with The Arsinoëphorus Alliance (Book 1): Bound by Fate and Blood, and many of the events this month celebrate that day.