Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Author Interview: Jfly

1. What was it about the Twilight Fandom that made you want to write fanfiction for it?

Peer pressure. I found this fun community entirely by accident, and when I started befriending writers, they were all very encouraging. I hadn't written much at all in the last few years, so when I started dabbling with the canon characters and it was FUN, I was almost instantly addicted.

2. What made you choose the genre you write in versus the others? Do you think you might ever venture beyond your chosen genre?

I don't know if I have a genre. I've written canon, angst, and comedy. I simply like to take SOME aspect from the books, a trait, a phrase, a theme, etc. and expand upon it. Each time I choose something to write about, the genre finds me. Well, except EARTHQUAKE! It's meant to be comedy. But I'm not even sure if I pulled that off. My other stories are always pretty straight-laced, but with some quotidien humor and ten-cent words thrown in.

3. What do you do to avoid writer's block? If it's unavoidable, what do you do to surpass it?

Heh. When I can't write I read. When I can't find anything appealing to read, I watch old movies. I love film noir, old screwball comedies, anything with Cary Grant. I wrote a song about my movie love once when I was in a band. You want the


The videos are due today
I'll turn the videos in tomorrow
The videos'll all be late
I'm gonna hafta pay the late fee

I woke up ten minutes late again
I can't find the dress that malkes me thin
I guess I will just stay in bed
And look at Steve McQueen instead

I really like black and white
Maybe I'll rent a drama
I'd like to see Cary Grant
Or maybe I'll get some James Bond

The videos are due today
I'll turn the videos in tomorrow
The videos'll all be late
I'm gonna hafta pay the late fee

Shit, I don't remember the rest of it. It was your typical two minute three-chord pop song. It sounded like elastica. The band was called $5pants.

4. Do you find that any certain characters are more difficult to write than others?

I don't know if I could write Nessie. I've pretty much blocked out all of that last book from my brainhole. However, when the 100 years post BD contest was posted on Twilighted, I messed around with it a little. I had this whole conservationist theme because 100 years from now, the earth will be a mess, and the Cullens will no longer be able to drive gas guzzlers. Needless to say, I left that one on the drawing board.
I'll pretty much write anything, though. Some of my friends know that all they have to do to get something out of me is put the idea in my head. I'm highly suggestible. I write little vignettes on demand from time to time.

5. Do you find a significant portion of your stories on the cutting room floor, or do you tend to keep most of what you write?

I keep almost everything when I am working by myself. When I work with a beta, we end up trashing an average of 200 words per chapter or so of dead weight. It's wonderful to work with someone who isn't afraid to say "Jennifer, this is pointless. You've said the same thing three times. Just cut those paragraphs." Or, more frequently, "These adjectives are giving me a headache." I love the editing process, and I've learned more from my beta than from any instructor I ever had in my life. Looking at my own words through someone else's eyes is a priceless experience.

6. Tell us the guiltiest pleasure you indulge in.

Guilty? I think fanfiction is my guilty pleasure. It's a totally self-indulgent hobby. Or maybe the REAL guilty part of it is when I discuss really bad fics with my friends and we laugh and laugh. Last night I stumbled upon this Rob/TomStu story that had me in stitches til 4am. It was absolutely incredible, and I could not tell if the writer was writing it as a joke or if she was really trying to write some hot slash fic. Oh, man!

7. What's your pre-writing routine, if you have one?

Coffee. I usually wake up with a head full of things that need to get onto paper as soon as possible. So I must have coffee. If I am groggy, I'll walk to a cafe, spending the time working things out in my head. When I had a job, I used my commute to work out scenes and questions. Maybe that's why I was laid off- the first thing I did every day when I got to work was open a notepad to jot stuff down in all day.
That's another thing. I open a notepad screen on my desktop before I begin. My head is scattered, and I often need more than one place to put my ideas. Right now I am working on three stories at once. I may be typing one while an answer to a question in another comes to me, and I need to jot it down fast. No paper. I'm thoroughly an on-screen note taker.

8. What is your editing process? How much do you rely on outside help?

I rely HEAVILY on outside help for Sanctuary. I can't get through more than three chapters in a row without getting her input to make sure I'm not puttin Fr Edward's foot in his mouth. Right now I'm flying by the seat of my pants, rewriting his backstory and adding in some things to later chapters. Beta hasn't seen any of it yet, and if she pokes holes in it, I will have a lot of extra work to do.
For my other stories, I just sit down and write them. In From Innocence to Experience, I was feeling my way along. I had a basic story line but wasn't really certain until very close to the end whether I would write the "HEA." In my original notes, Edward leaves, promising to come back, we the reader doesn't get to find out whether he does or not. Readers slapped some sense into me on that one. I was informed that, "This is FanFiction. Edward and Bella HAVE to end up together." So I relied on that advice, and it turned out well.

9. What type of research did you do for Sanctuary?

In the beginning, I spent about a month reading the biographies of priests on church websites. I copied down schedules for Mass, Reconciliation, coffee hours, book clubs... all this stuff that goes on in churches. I made excel spreadsheets, tweaking everything that the priest in my story would have to juggle, making sure the schedule was reasonable for a small parish.
Now, I have a few places I turn to when I am working on the story. If I need to make sure I understand the philosophy behind Fr Edward's mind set, I might read some Dante, Aquinas, or St Paul. I try to balance out the Church dogma with a real man's point of view. But since I am not a man at all, I also look to the priest's other influennces. I rely heavily on Robert Browning and TS Eliot.
I even wrote a few sermons early on, looking for his voice, getting into his mindset. They aren't going to be published, even though I toyed with the idea of throwing them in between chapters. FanFic readers don't want preaching. They want sex.

10. How do you view the religious themes in your story and are you ever concerned about how they are viewed?

I'm extremely concerned. In September, I was ready to ditch this story idea altogether because I was sure I'd be burnt at the stake for posting it. Religion is just about the touchiest subject on earth. Look at all the wars throughout recorded history that started over differences in religious beliefs. I knew this could easily turn into an overboiling kettle. I am constantly battling with the language to make sure I maintain respect toward the religious subject matter even while my character is disrespecting the Church.
This story began as a chance to put one man's soul on a microscope slide and have a look at what makes it tick. My character is certain that he is damned, but by this point, the reader should be questioning that assurity.
I am wary over overstepping bounds while trying to maintain this ambiguity. Fr Edward is an antihero who doesn't think he deserves the prizes that would go to the real hero.

11. What character do you find yourself relating to most in your story? Do you find that person easier to write or harder?

This is the toughest question. It has to be Edward. I started this story really wary of his faith, but a result of searching through his ideas and motivations has been that I've really found a way to understand my own faith in a way that I had not attempted to do in about sixteen years or so.I've learned so much from writing this story and from doing the reasearch I've done.
Fr Edward is always a challenge to write. On the one hand, he is a man. I've known many men in my lifetime. I have several very close male friends. So I feel pretty well qualified to portray a fictional man. The priest side of him, however, is frequently at war with his man side. And I have to reconcile that with every single phrase that he thinks or says. I write and then analyze everything. And then my beta will analyze it too. We are relentlessly tormenting the poor character, second guessing him, deconstructing him, undressing him...
I hope, when it's done, that I've done him justice. If a priest someday stumbled upon the FanFiction (can you even imagine), I'd like to think he could read Sanctuary and empathise with my character rather than shake his head.

12. You are known for your writing style, are there any writers out there who you really enjoy reading? Any stories that really impress you?

I'm always impressed by jandco and gallantcorkscrews. Neither of them has ever disappointed me. With jandco's work, you instantly get a mood. She builds this intense atmosphere-- a larger-than-life reality that is entirely believable. It's the overwhelming all-encompasing cyclone effect, and she seems to create it so effortlessly. She could write about a litter of puppies, and it would be the best, most adorable, most desirable litter of puppies ever. It's her trademark thing-- she sucks you in with the intense emotion and then fucks you up with it.
And gallantcorkscrews is almost the exact negative to that. She writes in this sweeping minimalistic tone. She leave holes all over the page but sets them in just the right places that we still navigate effortlessly through the story. It's amazing to get swept up in a scene she has written- like the fishpond at the party in Trumped. It's almost like you're RIGHT THERE with the characters, but there's a strobe light, and you don't catch everything, but you still know exactly what's going on and how the characters feel, even when they don't know it themselves. She's a fucking genius.

Other than those two writers, I am impressed frequently but on not quite so grand a scale. I love writers who can incorporate canon character traits into a non-canon story. Have a look at Limona, Angel, caligula42... those are the first who come to mind. My other friends will slay me for not mentioning them, but it's like at the Oscars- no one wants to hear your list of BFFs from the past thirty years, dude! Take the statue and move on.


  1. I admit to having a case of hero-worship when it comes to Jenny. Thanks for this interview. Humorous, to the point, honest, and informative. Just like Jenny.
    I do want to say that I would like to read Edward's sermon(s). I am interested in everything he has to say.

  2. I love it best that Jenny has range. She pushes herself, which is HUGE. Y'all need to check out EARTHQUAKE! in addition to sanctuary - cuz it just makes me laugh - if for entirely different reasons that Sanctuary makes me do so...

  3. My love for Sanctuary has no bounds. Plan B as well. Really great interview. It's nice getting this insight into how you write.

    Fr Ed's sermons? Sure I want the sex, but those sound really interesting. I wonder if he injects any of his (private) personality into them or if he keeps the two separate even when trying to impart wisdom. Although, I seem to recall not many people attend his service.

  4. Dude. I'm not going to stroke that massive ego.

    Did you ever notice nobody ever comments on the interviewer and the wonderful talent it takes to draw out these (Quote)Genius Answers(End Quote) I am freaking Barbara Walters. heh. I am taking my statue and moving on.

    At least I am getting the incredible pleasure of writing with you. It's like an orgasm running down my leg.

    INTERESTING FACTOID (that won't surprise anyone who knows J) That really IS her cup of coffee, not some generic google image. Isn't it FANTASTIC?


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