Monday, March 10, 2014

Advice to Screenwriters-turned-Authors from YA novelist Jennifer Quintenz

I'm excited to introduce Jennifer Quintenz, who has had a successful career in television writing and writing YA novels. She has written 23 episodes of TV--11 for "Wicked, Wicked Games" and 12 for "American Heriess," and she has written comics, feature screenplays, spec pilots, and three published novels. All in all, Jennifer is a prolific writer with an amazing resume, and she took time out of her busy schedule to chat with me about transitioning from TV writing to writing books.

Jennifer Quintenz
TL: How did you come up with the idea for the Daughters of Lilith series?
JQ: I love taking existing mythology and playing with “what would happen if this took place in present day?” But I will say, the succubus has always been one of my least favorite “monsters” because it’s always (or often) portrayed as a sex-object / male-fantasy creature. The story of Lilith, though, is pretty freaking interesting. So I wondered, what would happen if a modern-day teenager found out she was a descendant of Lilith? How could she balance having all those predatory instincts and powers - so often used to destroy - with her own sense of self / humanity? I didn’t want to paint Braedyn as a sex-object, or show her transformation from normal girl to Lilitu as something that totally takes over her personality. I love exploring how she manages to integrate these insane powers into her life while still struggling to do what she knows is right.

  
TL:You have had a very successful television and film career. What made you decide to write novels, and what advice do you have for other screenwriters turned authors?
JQ: I love writing for TV and film! But the frustrating aspect of it is creating so many worlds and characters and mythologies that end up as great specs… and that’s it. I originally wrote “Thrall” as a TV pilot. Usually when pilots don’t get picked up you just turn your attention to the next story, but this world and these characters (and all the stories I wanted to tell about them) just wouldn’t leave me alone. So I talked it over with my awesome and supportive manager (Marc Manus!) and we agreed to give this whole YA novel thing a try. With Marc’s help I got a NY book agent, and we did the whole submitting around to publishers, etc. But as we shopped it around to publishers, I started reading more and more about indie publishing, and started to become fascinated by the level of control writers could have over the process, everything from cover design to controlling book pricing.

My advice for other screenwriters thinking about publishing a book? DO IT. DO IT NOW. (Well, as soon as you have a great book. :) Don’t rush it too much. But seriously, do it.)

TL: Why did you decide to publish independently instead of try the traditional publishing route? What challenges have you faced as an indie author, and how did you overcome those challenges?
JQ: I think - after spending seven years in the film and TV world, I just wanted to get my stories to an audience - and more and more it seemed like indie publishing was the way to go for me. Wow - this is material for a whole interview in itself. To keep it brief, I’ve been telling stories long enough that I have confidence in my abilities, I know the kinds of stories I want to tell, and I have a great network of amazing readers, reps, and editors who keep me on track and help me make the most of the stories I want to tell. So I felt very confident that I could deliver a great book without the traditional publishing process as a safety net. Beyond that, again - control of the book, the cover, the content, etc, and the ability to get my stories directly to an audience who might enjoy them. I just wasn’t interested in navigating through the gatekeepers of yet another industry.

 The challenges I’ve faced - really the one big challenge - is visibility. With the advent of the kindle / ebooks, the beautiful and amazing thing is that anyone can publish a book. But that also means there are hundreds of thousands of books out there competing for readers’ attention. Somehow you have to intrigue a reader enough to get them to take a chance on you and read your book. So I’ve tried to reach out to the amazing community of book bloggers that exists and many of the have been willing to read and review my books for their blogs / goodreads / etc. They are always honest, so sometimes you end up with a distinctly not-glowing review, but I figure that’s helpful, too - because there are definitely readers who won’t enjoy my books as much as others, so these bloggers can warn them away. And then there are some reviews that come back as total fan-girl love letters and they make my day. I am a fan-girl myself, and so I get so giddy when something I’ve written inspires someone else to gush. Visibility - that’s the major problem, and one I continue to work at solving. It’s a never-ending process. Well, maybe if you’re J.K. Rowling you don’t have to worry so much about getting the word out about your new book… :)

TL: What is your typical day like? 
JQ: My toddler wakes up at the crack of way-too-early, then comes and hang out with me in bed while I try to summon the strength to get up. We play for a while, then I take him to preschool. I come home and write, usually take a 10-15 minute lunch break, write, then go pick him up between 4 and 5. Then it’s all toddler time, or playdates, or park trips, dinner, bath, get the kiddo off to bed, hang out with my husband for a bit, then crash. This schedule gets shifted around when I’ve got a meeting or a pitch, but generally that’s my day. Oh - and some of the “writing” is my day job, writing articles. But much of the time it’s work on novels, tv specs, tv pilots, or other projects not related to a traditional paycheck.

If you'd like to learn more about Jennifer, you can find her on the following sites:

No comments:

Post a Comment