You may remember me writing about being an advance reader for Jenny L. Cote’s latest book, The Voice, The Revolution, and The Key. I have officially finished it and submitted my review, and although I can’t give anything away, I can tell you that it is an amazing piece of literature!
Through my journey as an advance reader, I have had the privilege of being able to share my blog with Mrs. Cote, as well as been given the opportunity to interview her. So, without further ado, it is my pleasure to welcome Jenny L. Cote to my blog for the first ever Bookends interview!
Me: I’m so glad to have you on my blog! I’ve just finished being an advance reader for your newest book, The Voice, the Revolution, and the Key. I loved all the new characters, which makes me curious: which new character is your favorite?
Jenny L. Cote: Cato the bald eagle, of course! I wasn’t expecting him. He just showed up in my book one day and I fell in love with his character. He ended up being the glue for the major plot line of the entire book.
I loved Cato as well! He was such a lovable character. Do you find your personality is similar to any of the members of the Order of the Seven?
They say that an author IS all of his or her characters, so yes, there’s a bit of me in each one of my characters. Even my villains, I expect.
As a young writer, I always wonder what it’ll be like to get my “big break”, so to say. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Write about what you love and are passionate about, and don’t write a word until you have exhausted your research. I don’t care if it’s even fantasy that you’re writing about – even fantasy is based in reality at some level! You can’t write about what you don’t know about, so you have to do your research. I happen to love it – research to me is the most fun part of being a writer. But many young writers I meet think it’s boring or a pain. I tell them about my travels and crazy adventures to hunt down information and their perspective changes. Research is a treasure hunt!
Speaking of your research, you have to do a lot of it. How do you keep it all organized?
Well, I organize books by category (I’m reading close to 200 for the Revolution), and actually had to buy a new book case to house them all. For printed sources I use file folders and accordion files. For internet searches, I have a running “Idea Page” where I cut and paste sources by category so I can find them again. As I build a detailed outline, I cut and paste my resources or make notes so I can find them when I’m ready to write a given scene.
Wow, that’s a lot of work! It’s worth it, I’m sure. Now, although I have always enjoyed writing and telling stories, it took me years to realize that I wanted to be able to write for the rest of my life. Before that, younger me wanted to be a dog groomer! Did you want to be anything else before you became a writer, and were there any people/events that were influential in your love of reading and writing?
Of course! I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer until I was grown up! I wanted to be a marine biologist and swim with dolphins, an actress, a designer of greeting cards, a corporate CEO – I was all over the map! But I wrote stories about talking fruit as a kid. So when I met Phil Vischer, I told him that I wrote “Fruity Tales” before he wrote “Veggie Tales.” I ended up getting two marketing degrees and working in the healthcare field for a children’s hospital, but I was always writing and creating. My first entrance into writing happened when a book bubbled up out of me called “Now I Sea” about spiritual life lessons from the sea. It was a devotional book, and not my best work but I knew I wanted to be a writer once I created that book. At that time the real Max and Liz came to live with me and the idea for The Ark, the Reed, and the Fire Cloud came about. I met a literary agent who said she wanted to represent me and everything happened from there. But I’d have to say that my 7th grade English teacher, Morissa Weiss, taught me how to research, do outlines and write. I’m actually friends with her today so it’s pretty cool. C.S. Lewis is my literary hero and I’ll actually be writing him into my books as the main character when I cover WWII.
I’m excited for you to write about C.S. Lewis, but in The Voice, The Revolution, and The Key, the main historical character is Patrick Henry. If you could go back in time and ask him one question, what would it be?
Did you really know my sixth great grandmother Elizabeth Strong who grew up where you did in Hanover? (Why else would you go to bat and help her as a war widow when you became governor?) I’ve written it fictionally that he did, and hope so.
Thank you so much for your time, Mrs. Cote! You are truly a joy to talk to.
Award-winning author Jenny L. Cote, who developed an early passion for God, history, and young people, beautifully blends these three passions in her two fantasy fiction series: The Amazing Tales of Max and Liz and Epic Order of the Seven. Likened to C.C. Lewis by readers and book reviewers alike, she speaks on creative writing to school and universities around the world. A Virginia native, Jenny now lives in Roswell, Georgia.