Friday, January 6, 2012

Jenna Johnson - Author Spotlight

What type of genre do you write in?

I write primarily in the fantasy genre, and my current books can be considered high or epic fantasy and are geared towards the middle-grade reader. I have lots of other projects waiting in the wings, some for much younger readers and some for much older. They can all be considered fantasy books, but some are high fantasy, some urban fantasy. One day I’d like to try to add a little steam punk into the mix as well.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

Sharon Shinn: She does a good job with world-building and creating a complex setting. Her characters are engaging and she comes up with some unique concepts that I both admire and draw inspiration from.
Maria V. Snyder: I especially love her book Poison Study. A good fantasy adventure with engaging characters and a strong heroine. Although her world isn’t as complex as others, it still offers that escape I’m always looking for.
Lindsay Buroker: Lindsay is a fellow indie author and I found her first book on I was just browsing and stumbled upon it and liked the premise. Lindsay’s books are all about her characters and I simply adore them. She has done an excellent job in developing their personalities and giving them real heart.
Sherwood Smith: Another author who creates fun and engaging worlds. Her characters have spunk and there always seems to be a little twist in the story somewhere along the way.

In your opinion, what key parts of a story make it great?

When I finish a book that I really like, it usually has to have two things going for it: an interesting setting and good character development. An interesting setting can be something as simple as a brand new world and as complex as a highly developed society with multiple layers. When I read, I want to be taken somewhere else. As for the characters, if they don’t have emotions and come off as flat, I’ll not enjoy the book. I want to care what happens to them, to see them suffer and experience joy. I want them to feel real to me.

What activities do you undertake for inspiration?

When I’m writing, I try to have some instrumental music playing in the background (traditional classical music, new age Celtic and sometimes soundtracks). I think it helps get the creative juices going.
Another thing I like to do to help get away and give my writing side a rest is to go camping, preferably Yosemite National Park, once a year. It helps me wind down and I’ve actually started working on another fantasy novel in which the setting is based on Yosemite Valley.
I also draw (my college degree is in art), and sometimes I’ll sketch out character ideas or creatures that live in my worlds. I designed the covers for the Oescienne books and I am always working on maps to help me find my way around my different settings.
Besides camping, music and drawing? My friends and I go to a weekly medieval sword fighting class and we all have longbows (which we shoot in my backyard on the weekends when we have the time). How does this inspire my work? Well, I guess you could say I’m trying to relate better to those characters of mine who live in a more primitive time period ;).

Do you have a day job?

Yes I do. I work as a teacher’s assistant at a local elementary school. One of the perks of working in a school is that you get summers off, along with a winter and spring break. It’s really nice to have the time off to write :).

What is the title of your upcoming/newly released novel, and where can we find it?

The title of my newest novel is The Awakening (the third book in The Legend of Oescienne series). It can currently be found in paperback format from ( and ebook format from amazon and ( I should also mention that the first book in the series, The Finding, is currently free from ( and (in case you aren’t sure if you want to read all three, you can test drive the first one ;)). Of course, you can always visit my website/blog ( where I’ll post book news. Right now you can only learn about my Oescienne series, but I’m working on a YA urban fantasy at the moment and as soon as book one is ready to go, I’ll create a page for it as well.

Jenna, thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to hang out with us, can't wait to start reading your series, always looking for great new reads :)

Happy writing

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