Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Author Spotlight on: Denise Jaden

Last summer I started hearing good things about Denise Jaden's debut novel, LOSING FAITH. I added it to my TBR list, but, well, you've seen the piles on my nightstand! I finally started reading it at the end of November and wouldn't you know -- around the time that I finished the book, I wound up signing with the same agent as Denise!

Obviously, Agent Michelle has GREAT taste in books :-)  But we aren't the only ones who think Denise made a stellar debut. Here's what School Library Journal had to say:  

This thoughtful first novel explores early grief and shows how it can tear at the structure of a family that cannot mourn together...With pitch-perfect portrayals of high school social life and a nuanced view into a variety of Christian experiences of faith, this first novel gives readers much to think about.

The novel has gotten glowing reviews on numerous blogs and was also listed as one of the best reads of 2010 by multiple readers at the Best I've Read blog.

Whew--Heady stuff!

LOSING FAITH came out in September and today Denise is here to talk about her experience with this first novel and give us a peek at what she has coming up.

Thanks for stopping by, Denise! I know you wrote several novels before LOSING FAITH, but this book actually had a pretty short journey to publication once you signed with Michelle. How long did you spend writing (and rewriting) it?

I wrote the first draft of LOSING FAITH in 21 days during NaNoWriMo 2006. I had worked on an outline for about two months prior, and then I worked on revising the manuscript with critique partners for close to a year. I got an agent in 2007, sold the book in early 2008, and it hit the bookstores in September 2010.

Cool! I love that this story was a NaNo novel!

Now I’ve read that you consider writing your “hobby,” but you obviously take it pretty seriously. How many years have you been writing?

I think that’s just my style. I take everything a little too seriously. LOL. I’ve been writing for about eight years now, and whether I continue to publish or not, I don’t think I’ll ever stop writing.

Are you an every day writer or a binge writer?

I’m definitely an every day writer. In fact, if I go for more than two or three days without writing, I get a little, um, grumpy. My husband will attest to that! I do find, though, that the continuity really helps me stay in the story, and I often even dream about my characters and stories.

Oh, I can relate to the novel dreams :-) But your schedule, yikes! You exercise at the gym every morning, homeschool your second-grader and you’re also a professional Polynesian dancer. How do you squeeze writing time into your day?
I was pretty blessed in that my son napped right up until he was six years old. When he stopped napping, I implemented a “quiet time” and we stick to that pretty rigidly. That hour and a half is my only time each day to really focus on my writing.

You had a pretty extensive blog tour with the launch and I’m sure did some signings. Now that LOSING FAITH has been out there for a few months, which marketing efforts do you think had the most impact?
It’s really hard to say, since I don’t watch sales very closely. My motto has always been to give everything marketing-wise a try and see what feels right or isn’t too difficult. So far I haven’t found any of it difficult, and some of it I’d even say is TOO much fun (turn OFF the Twitter, Denise!). I love having bookmarks and that’s one thing I would never do without. I also had a lot of fun putting together a blog tour, and I think that raised a fair bit of awareness for my book.

At what point did it finally feel real to you, that you were really going to be a published author?

Um, in some ways it still doesn’t. I’m still surprised when I see my book on a bookstore shelf, almost like I’ve forgotten that it’s actually out there. I think the biggest transforming moment so far, though, was when I held my advance copy of the book. Seeing it bound with a cover for the first time was really something else.

You had a great review in School Library Journal in December. Has it been hard reading the less than glowing reviews or do you just ignore them?
I have a pretty thick skin, but still, unpleasant reviews are not fun. I’ve been pretty fortunate that most reviews for LOSING FAITH have been extremely positive, but I’d have to say what bothers me the most are the “meh” reviews—the reviews that make it painfully obvious that the book I poured my heart and soul into didn’t really affect someone one way or the other.

Ugh, I can only imagine how disappointing that would be. What’s something you wish you would have known before publication that would have made the journey a little easier?
I wish I’d known how many areas there are to compare yourself to others. I wish I’d made myself break the comparison habit a long, long time ago, because it only seems to get harder.

Oooh, that’s a good one. And a hard one I think. 

On your blog I read that you’ve been hard at work revising APPETITE FOR BEAUTY. Tell me a little about this story and its road to publication.
APPETITE FOR BEAUTY has been a work in progress for over five years. It was the second novel I penned (the first YA) and holds a pretty special place in my heart.  It’s contemporary YA and another sister story.

I submitted it to my agent earlier this year, maybe in April. She came back with some minor changes, and we submitted it to my editor near the end of summer. I think it was a couple of months before I received an offer, and I’m actually working with a different editor at Simon Pulse on this one.

Oh, that’s excellent that you got the same publisher, though, and that they’re interested in more of your work. You have several other stories simmering on the back burner. Do you plan to go back to the archery story or is there a different one floating to the surface?
Yes, I can’t wait to go back to PERFECT AIM! But…I’ll be working on another book before that. I just wrote a first draft for a companion novel to LOSING FAITH. This one’s in Tessa’s point of view, and it’s my priority at this point so not too much time lapses between books.

Yay! I’m glad that we’ll be hearing more from these characters!

It’s January so I have to ask: do you have any writing goals for this year?

I’d like to revise, polish, and sell the companion novel this year. And get through at least one revision of PERFECT AIM. I also plan to write again for NaNoWriMo in November, but that will be a brand new project and I’m undecided on what that one will be about so far.

Sounds like you’ve got a busy year ahead! Best of luck with those writing goals and with everything else going on in your life. And thanks for stopping by!
Thanks so much, Sherrie!

Here's the trailer for LOSING FAITH.

And here are some of the places around the web where you can find Denise:!/denisejaden


Laura Pauling said...

Great interview! It's been fun to watch Denise's journey! Neat that you both signed with the same agent! :)

Angela said...

Great interview! And what a gorgeous cover this book has!

Kristan said...

How interesting that she calls this a hobby when she's obviously so successful at it! I can't decide if I am envious of her "casual" attitude about it, or bewildered, lol. Either way, it's obviously working for her. Her books sound great, and I enjoyed her natural voice in the interview. Thanks, y'all!

Stina said...

Great interview. I enjoyed the book and look forward to reading Denise's next one.

I can definitely relate to the problem of not writing everyday . . . just ask my husband and kids. ;)

Melissa Gill said...

Thanks for the great interview. I love the questions you asked. I'm going to have to check out this book.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I always love your interviews - I feel like I really get to know an author a bit through your questions. :-)

Laurel Garver said...

Great interview. I'm itching to get my hands on a copy of Denise's book now!

Unknown said...

Great interview, ladies!

Unknown said...

Great interview. I can't wait to read this one, it sounds really interesting.

Shari Green said...

Loved this interview -- thanks, Sherrie and Denise! And congrats, Sherrie, on signing with Michelle. I've heard good things about her from Denise! :)

Christina Lee said...

Excellent, this is on my Kindle as we speak! I am sooo jealous about the napping time. THX!

Lori W. said...

Thank you both for this interview! I especially liked the advice about not playing the comparison game.

Third great review for Losing Faith that I've seen recently. Must switch on the Kindle now. There is never enough time to read and write is there?

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