“Interview with Becoming Hero’s Author, Jen Finelli”
Today, I am delighted to interview Jen Finelli, author of soon to be released Becoming Hero.
Hi, Jen. So good to have you as our honored guest today. I know our readers are going to enjoy learning about you. You are clever and fun. I’ve rolled out the red carpet for you.
Thank you, Joan for having me here. Let’s get going.
- Where were you born?
- Where was your favorite place to live as a child? Why?
Germany was wonderful, but my heart’s in Paraguay. You know how some folks have that Grandma’s house out in the country or something they went to over the summer? My “summer” place was Paraguay…the verdant home to thousands of undiscovered bird species, the largest waterfall in the world, and people who will offer you tea and next thing you know is that you’re part of their family. That’s where I’m going to live when I grow up: I’m spending the next ten years saving up money to build a clinic in the jungle there.
- Did you have a favorite place to read a book as a child? Where and why?
What’s comfier than a bed, am I right?
- Where is your favorite place to read now? Why?
Ha, I don’t grow up. That’s why on Twitter they call me Petr3Pan! I’m still in the same place.
- How do you keep yourself physically fit?
I cry a lot, and that doesn’t seem to be working. It’s great, I stay the same size all the time! I’m big enough for my husband to write words on and hide them in the folds. In all seriousness, there are some awesome apps people should check out if they want to get fit. I’m trying to do this 100 push-ups app, and learn Bellydancing. Zombies Run looks awesome. I used to be a black belt who ran three miles every morning, taught martial arts classes, AND swam competitively, so I do like exercise. It just doesn’t like me.
- If you go to an amusement park, which ride do you go to first? Which ride do you ignore at all costs?
Not a huge fan of spinning things. Love the Apollo’s Chariot at Bush Gardens, Williamsburg, Va. I want to fly, so anything that makes me feel like I’m flying is a go.
- What is your favorite genre? Why?
Sci-Fi! Because it’s the best one! You can say anything about the future, the past, the now, and you can explore the edges of human innovation and maybe even influence some real scientists. Nothing’s better than that!
- What’s your favorite book that you’ve ever read? Why?
Either Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie or The Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis. The Space Trilogy is a great example of anthropological philosophy, and he spends a lot of time thinking about what cultures might be like on other planets in a very mystical, beautiful way. Much more lit than his Narnia trilogy.
- Where is your favorite place to visit? Why?
Wherever my husband is.
- When did you decide to become a writer?
Six year old me: grubby, shower-less little kid who exclusively spoke in words she’d read in the dictionary. Hated writing, but I wrote an essay about a salmon that included the sentence “she swam far far far far far far far far far far far far” and it won an award, so my fate was sealed. I might still hate writing, who knows.
But the fact is I’m good at written storytelling, and as my writing career began to build (despite my attempts to do other things like medicine) I realized I was born for this. I quit a pharmacy tech position and began writing full-time. I—no joke—heard God telling me it’s my calling to write.
*Ding ding ding crazy!* I know you’re all thinking it, so it’s okay, I’ll go ahead and say it. But you know, I’m a multiple published Codex member now with over a hundred pieces over my belt, so I don’t think I’m one of these people who says God told them to write and then sends you the scary manifesto they wrote in blood on toilet paper.
I’m more like one of those people who says God told them to write and sends you a frikkin’ awesome zombie story in a popular anthology. (I’m saving my bloody toilet paper manifesto for when Vermin Supreme becomes president = P)
- Who or what has inspired you the most to write?
I have no idea! When I was nine I loved something by Lynne Reid Banks so much I decided to write my own magical world about an Easter Egg. I always wanted to be the next C.S. Lewis. If I can learn to be the best me, that would be a good start.
- What has been the most exhilarating moment as a writer?
When I stopped thinking I knew how to write, and started taking advice. That’s when my career took off. I threw away a 500,000 word novel, people.
- What are your top ten tips for writers to help them in writing a best seller?
- Don’t be lazy.
- Be patient.
- Realize your work isn’t perfect, that’s not a personal flaw, and you can take steps to get better. You don’t have to kill all your Darlings, but you do have to kill your ego.
These three things will help you deal with rejection and improve your writing more than anything else will. You also need to avoid the use of “was,” use strong words instead of adverbs, stop being pretentious and writerly (stop saying utilize instead of use), and read both Grammar Girl and Strunk and White. (I need to do those things, too) Ten tips is more than I’m qualified to give in one post, but I do have a place on my site where I drop writing tips I’ve learned from others. I believe you’ll think it’s worth checking out.
- How did you find the illustrator for your comic book?
That’s a bit of a secret, since we have a big reveal coming up, but suffice it to say: online! People who are looking for artists should follow them on Twitter, go to ComicCons, hang out on DeviantArt, and generally try to think like artists.
Paying money helps, which is why I ran this awesome campaign to pay my artist AND give my fans cool inexpensive pre-orders! At the $1 level peeps get a $17 audiobook!
- What are three things that you do to entice readers to read to the very last page of your book?
Pray. Eat. Love. Or something like that. No, for real! Prayer helps get my mind focused, I need to eat or I can’t write, and if you don’t love your readers they can feel it. That’s something Dale Carnegie said once.
On a more practical note, keep secrets (but don’t lie to your readers, they hate that)—every character should have one secret trait you never tell your readers, and one secret that affects the book in some way. Cock Chekhov’s gun: let readers see the rifle lying in the room before it becomes important. Just kind of mention it, and then later when it’s important they’re like OH SNAP I REMEMBER THAT THERE WAS A GUN IN THE ROOM!
And finally, have an outline that flows.
- As I understand it, when you were writing a cartoon, you had one of your characters rebel against the situations you put him in? How do you feel about this?
Well it’s not actually me that Skye’s shooting—he’s inside a comic book INSIDE the novel, so his author lives in the novel, and I’m his author’s author. Like his grand-author. Thankfully, he doesn’t know I exist.
In all seriousness, writing something this meta can mess with your head a little bit. I’m writing about tropes I think comic authors should stop using, and about how ridiculous it gets when major franchises get dragged on and on and on…and I’m employing the same tropes I’m talking about because otherwise it’s tell not show. So like…if Skye were real somewhere…am I a huge jerk, or am I doing this because I’m trying to make a hero out of him? Would he hate me, or thank me for bringing him to become the person he’s meant to be?
I try to write all my characters, even the bad guys, as if I love them very much. I want to see them shine, so each one needs to have his moment, and each one needs a deep reason for why he does what he does. But who knows…Skye might still find me worthy of a bullet in the brain.
- This question is for Skye, the main character in your new book, Becoming Hero.
Hello, Skye from Becoming Hero. Why are you so upset?
“To quote Batman: how many girlfriends died in your hands?
You know what’s really sad about it? They’re fading in my head, ’til they’re almost not people anymore—just plot points, meant to drive me on, and I can feel that drive, that spiked wheel turning in my rib cage and churning all the meat in there like a blender, I feel how it’s supposed to warp me and turn me in to a dark and cool mysterious brooding guy with a past, and I don’t want it, I don’t, that’s not who I am.
Before you know it, well, here I am. Dark and brooding guy with a past. I even use guns now. I’ve got nothing but Natasha’s name on my lips and her ring around my neck, because her personality, her well-rounded human self disappeared every time she stepped into a panel and became “the girlfriend.” Because I’m the main character, everyone exists around me. Which means everyone around me has to suffer, but I can never, never die.
This is what the SAT calls egomania. This is what the author in the comic is doing to me.
You know it’s the worst thing ever when you know what’s happening to you, and you can’t stop it?
If there were one person in your life who was responsible for all the suffering of everyone you loved—your parents, your best friend, that special person who makes you blush like a dummy—would you take it lying down?
Or would you take them out?”
For more information about me, Skye from Jen Finelli’s new book, Becoming Hero, check out the website: http://becominghero.ninja
Thanks for taking the time to answer my question, Skye.
Jen Finelli’s Short Bio
If you’re looking for sentient cockroaches, angry superheroes, zombies or fairies, offensive gods, and anything else just plain different, Jen Finelli probably writes what you want. She’s a world-traveling sci-fi writer with a knack for making people feel things. (Rage, mostly, but that’s a feeling, right?) So far she’s gotten locked in a German nunnery, fired by a secret news organization, lost in an underground tunnel network, and wind-whipped in a tropical monsoon while riding a motorcycle, so she thinks she’s doing something right. Her comic book character wants to kill his author in Becoming Hero, published in 2017.
Thank you, Jen for a fun interview. I wish you the best of luck with your launch of Becoming Hero.
Link to purchase Becoming Hero:
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GIVEAWAY Completed on January 28, 2017.
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