Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Jennifer Donnelly Visits the Lair!


Interview by Kirsten Scott

Friends, I am just tickled to welcome the amazingly talented Jennifer Donnelly to the Lair! Jennifer’s first novel, The Tea Rose, an epic historical novel set in London and New York in the late 19th century, was called “exquisite” by Booklist, “so much fun” by the Washington Post, a “guilty pleasure” by People and was named a Top Pick by the Romantic Times. Her second novel, A Northern Light, won the Carnegie Medal, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Borders Original Voices Award, and was named a Printz Honor book. Jennifer is currently celebrating the release of The Winter Rose, a sequel to The Tea Rose, and a book we should all be watching for on the NYT bestseller list!

So, onto the interview!!

Jennifer, I inhaled...er, read The Tea Rose and can't wait to dive into The Winter Rose, which has just been released in hardcover by Hyperion Books. Can you tell us a little about these books?


I'd love to! Both books are big fat sweeping historicals, very much in the style of books I loved as a kid. Books like A Woman of Substance and The Thornbirds. Books that kept me up all night, reading under the covers with a flashlight. I first read A Woman of Substance when I was thirteen. I found it on my Aunt Grace’s bookshelf, along with about a hundred big fat 70’s blockbusters, and I was blown away. Emma was ladylike, elegant, determined, and tough as nails – a total Edwardian badass. She got knocked down, but she got right back up, put on her black dress and pearls, and proceeded to take over the world.

I loved those books too! They did a few things right in the 70s, didn't they? :-) You obviously take the setting of your novels very seriously, to the point that it becomes a key character in the story. What's your research process, and how in the world do you get all those details right? In particular, I loved all the vernacular you used in The Tea Rose, and the way the different characters truly had different voices. Where on earth did you find that sort of information?

I'm so glad you said that! I really do want things like history and setting to be characters in their own right in my books. My research process is more an art than a science. I read everything I can get my hands on -- big historical surveys of the period to start, then I try to get hold of any and all primary sources. Things like memoirs, oral histories, letters, newspaper articles, studies. Also diaries and photo albums. I prowl museums to view clothing from the time period in which I'm working, household items, and in the case of The Winter Rose -- obstetrical tools from the late 19th century. (Seeing them made me very happy I live in the 21st!) I also immerse myself as much as possible in the setting. Obviously I can't go back to 19th century London, but I could go back to the docklands, and I could spend a great deal of time in East London, at markets, at pubs, at caffs -- listening to the language of East Enders, absorbing the inflections, the vernacular. Taking in the faces, the gestures, the body language. Just generally being a big sponge -- soaking up sounds and sights and smells. The research goes on before I start writing, and during and even after -- during the fact checking and copyediting stages. It informs my work, and it inspires it. There's nothing more exciting than history to me. I totally groove to it.

I think you'll find a lot of people around here who feel the same way! Now, the Romance Bandits write in lots of different romance sub-genres -- historical, contemporary, paranormal, suspense, young adult -- but we're united in our love of romance and a happily ever after. The Tea Rose is a huge historical epic, but at its core it is very much a love story. Are you a romantic at heart? Do you imagine your hero and heroine find their HEA?

Fiona and Joe did in The Tea Rose, and I hope that Sid and India do in The Winter Rose. I myself am very much a romantic at heart. But a nitty-gritty, mean streets kind of romantic. I don't believe love is all hearts and flowers and gloopy rhymes. I believe the HEA takes work and sacrifice and selflessness. Anyone can send you a nice Valentine's Day card -- but will he be there for you when you get your tenth rejection letter from the publisher? When you've been in labour for twenty-odd hours? When the toilet blows up? Will you be there for him in difficult circumstances? That's love, to me. That's the HEA.

I grow a bit faint when I look at the sheer size of your books and imagine the research they require. You obviously had to dedicate a lot of time and energy to your writing without having any guarantee it would see the light of day. Can you tell us a little about your journey to publication? Did you ever consider quitting along the way?

That's funny…my publishers faint, too, when they see the sheer size of my books!

I fell in love with East London -- the inspiration behind my first novel, The Tea Rose, when I was in my twenties. And I started writing the book a few years later. I worked fulltime, so I wrote mornings from 4:30 to 7:00 am, and then I went to work. I wrote on weekends. Instead of taking vacations. I wrote pages upon pages upon pages. Draft upon draft. I worked hard, but it didn’t matter. The story didn’t work. It didn’t flow. It bogged down in description. It meandered. So I ripped up what I had and started again. And again. A year passed. Two. Five. Eight. I watched my friends got ahead in their chosen fields while I cobbled together a living from part time jobs, temp jobs, freelance jobs. I watched others get agents, get editors, get contracts, get published. Frustration set in. A sense of futility. Depression. Despair. But I kept on writing. I knew that nothing and no one could guarantee I’d ever get published, but I myself would guarantee that I didn’t if I stopped.

Eventually I had what I thought was a finished manuscript, so then all I needed was an agent. In my typical fashion, I got a guide to agents and wrote to every single one who sounded nice. Luckily, a good one wrote back -- Simon Lipskar from Writers House. He told me I could write, but said I still had a lot of work to do on things like narrative drive, point of view, and pacing. So I started revising. It took me another year to get the manuscript right. Another year of frustration. Of going back and forth with Simon, page by page. Of tears and doubt and worry. Finally, it was done. Again. It was polished and perfect and I thought we’d sell it immediately. I was so wrong. The manuscript was rejected from every publishing house in New York, and a few outside of it. Simon tried hard to sell it for over a year. And then I got a call. Not The Call, not by a long shot. It was Simon, and he was calling to tell me we he’d tried everything and everywhere and he couldn’t sell it. At least, not yet. We had to take a break. Put it on a shelf.

I was so down, I can’t even describe it. Ten years of my life. All that work. All that sacrifice. Such a labor of love. And no one wanted it. Weeks passed. And then one dreary, cold, gray afteroon, as I was sitting at my desk at Saks Fifth Avenue, writing ad copy, the phone rang. It was Simon. There was excitement in his voice, I could hear it. My heart started thumping. My hands went cold. And sure enough, he said the words I’d been waiting to hear for a decade: “I have an offer for The Tea Rose.” There was an editor a St. Martin’s – a new hire – and she liked it. The offer wasn't riches, not even close. But it didn’t need to be. To me, it was priceless.

That's an incredible story, and so inspiring for anyone striving to reach a seemingly impossible goal. Any last piece of advice you'd like to give to our readers who are aspiring writers themselves?

The most important piece of advice I can give to aspiring writers is this: Keep writing. Don't stop. Don't say the big fat awful NO to yourself. Trust me, the whole world is ready and willing to do that to you. Don't do it to yourself.

Thanks so much for the fabulous interview! Now, I know you're all going to run out and find Jennifer's books and add them to your TBR piles, but you're going to have to put them next in the queue, because they are a bit...ahem...weighty. ;-) So to get you started, we're sending one lucky commenter a copy of either The Tea Rose (if you're new to Jennifer) or The Winter Rose (if you're already a fan!). So, friends and fellow Banditas, say hello to Jennifer!

111 comments:

p226 said...

bok?

p226 said...

Muahahahahah....

*p226 runs into the midnight shadows with a captive

Kirsten said...

Oh, p226, BEHAVE! :-)

Poor little rooster...now he's going to get all traumatized again! And after the ladies worked so hard to get him calmed down!

flchen1 said...

Wow, Jennifer! What a great story of perseverance and faith! Thanks for sharing it, and for letting us peek into the process of creating these huge, beautiful stories! Can't wait to check them out :)

And congrats, p226! Be kind to the GR :)

p226 said...

I find the diligence you writers undertake for accuracy amazing. At some point, you probably find yourself on par with established PHD type "experts" in various fields. And in some ways, you probably know more than actual historians who make a living by simply knowing or teaching history. Now, I'm just guessing, but it seems to me where a historian would focus on big picture issues such as social attitudes, politics, and who's who, you guys have to get down into the nitty gritty of every day life. And I bet if you didn't, there'd be readers who'd call you out on it. I find it fascinating. And it must be an enormous challenge.

I believe the HEA takes work and sacrifice and selflessness. Anyone can send you a nice Valentine's Day card -- but will he be there for you when you get your tenth rejection letter from the publisher? When you've been in labour for twenty-odd hours? When the toilet blows up? Will you be there for him in difficult circumstances? That's love, to me. That's the HEA.

Sounds like a challenge to articulate. You're describing a big picture, long-term stability and reliability commitment. I don't read romance, but I'm curious how you get that across?

Though, in the real-world, my challenge is often more that of the "hearts and flowers and goopy rhymes." I've never put much stock in that stuff. Though, the one time I can remember doing something like that for my wife, it reduced her to tears, and every one of her friends that read it choked up too.

I think I did a good job that time. But I suppose it might be sad that there's a single instance to remember. But then I think that stems from my idea that deeds, and "being there" and "being supportive" over the long term provide more than a dozen roses ever could. The "goopy stuff" has always rung hollow to me.

Do you guys use a lot of that in your novels? Which do you emphasize? Which rings more true with your readership?

p226 said...

And now it's time to consider the fate of the GR.

*poof*

blackroze37 said...

very nice interview! i guessing the 70's or early 80 , was wheni started reading romance, at the age of 13

i would love to be enter to win, the firts THE TEA ROSE , if i won

Kirsten said...

flchen, I couldn't believe it when I read Jennifer's story. Her writing sounds so effortless, and the research really is a part of the story, not just something stuck in between bits of dialog. I hope you get a chance to read her books.

Kirsten said...

p226, Jennifer's characters defintely go through hard times along the way to their HEA. I think that's how she makes it all seem very real and lasting. They give up a lot for each other and it seems very real.

I think making the HEA real is the challenge for all of us who write romance. Just saying I love you doesn't do it. Sweet words don't do it. You've got to prove to the reader that these people are going to make it, that their love isn't just infatuation but has more to it. Especially when we write about super alpha males who probably aren't very good at gloopy words. ;-)

On the other hand, I know I need to hear the sweet talk sometimes, and I think our readers want that as well.

Kirsten said...

blackroze, you will love the Tea Rose! Make sure to check back with the blog tomorrow to see if you won! :-) And thanks for visiting the Banditas.

Christine Wells said...

Welcome, Jennifer! Your books sound absolutely amazing and your journey to getting your first published fills me with awe. I found myself mentally air-punching by the end of your 'call story'. I'm sure all that passion and turmoil comes across on the page. Only wish I were eligible to win, but I will certainly look for copies in the bookstore.

Congratulations on your success, Jennifer. Look forward to reading both 'roses'.

P226, you crack me up. BUt I'm also worried about our poor bird. You have to bring him back in one piece!!! One question: is the GR made of gold or does he just have gold feathers? I hope p226 doesn' hawk him on the black market.

Kirsten said...

Christine, I haven't read the Winter Rose yet, but the Tea Rose is all that and a bag of chips. You would particularly love it--it's about two best friends who fell in love at a very young age, and then were separated. Star-crossed lovers, making it against the odds. Great stuff.

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, no, poor GR!!! We'll save you, mate! Hang in there. Only give him your name, rank and serial number!

doglady said...

Christine, don't give p226 any ideas! His own are frightening enough. Congrats on the kidnapping, I mean nabbing of the GR.

I LOVED your call story, Jennifer! For someone like me who is just finishing her first full-length romance novel (Regency) your determination and approach to writing are a real inspiration and I can never enough of it.

Your research process sounds amazing and it shows you have a real sense of responsibility to your reader. I cannot wait to read one of your books. By all means drop my name in the hat!

When you are writing a story of this kind of scope do you plot it all out - do the research - and then write it? Or does your research sometimes change the story? (I don't even want to THINK about 19th century obstetric instruments. SHUDDER)

What a great interview!

doglady said...

Look out, p226! The Aussie brigade is on its way to rescue the GR. My dear old Dad used to say of his Aussie military mates "They give a new meaning to the words mad dogs and Englishmen!"

Ann M. said...

Loved the interview. Will definitely add your books to my wishlist.

Christine Wells said...

Kirsten, it does sound like my cup of tea. Thanks! I'm really excited about it. There's something so satisfying about a huge doorstopper of a book. We get so few meaty romances to read these days, due to printing costs etc.

Anna Campbell said...

Now, for the sensible bit! Jennifer, do you want to be an honorary Bandita? I LOVE your interview. Kirsten, you did a sterling job!!! I actually got quite misty eyed in your call story. I know exactly what you're talking about. That being left behind and having to face your friends' pitying, mystified looks. Congratulations on all your prizes and accolades. That's AMAZING! How did it feel when you got all those awards for The Northern Light? Did it feel surreal or did you think "About time!"?

I love your description of what real love is like. I try and convey that in my own writing - I was trying to explain to a fairly unsympathetic listener the other day that a happy ending to me isn't bluebirds and candyfloss and violins forever. It's that these two people have faced and overcome enormous difficulties together so the readers can have a reasonable expectation that they'll handle anything life throws at them now. P226, nobody in the Banditas writes GOOPY stuff! Wash your mouth out with soap! And then go and wash the camouflage paint of the GR!

Anna Campbell said...

Pam, clearly we were the 'mad dogs'! Hey, Madame CDW, that means you and me, I think! Woof!

Anna Campbell said...

By the way, am I allowed to win the book? Pretty please with sugar on top?

p226 said...

And then go and wash the camouflage paint of the GR!

How did you know I was camo-ing him? You realize he works for me now....

But your intelligence network must be better than we thought.

* heads off with the GR to a safe house in ##############################
############################
at ######### where ########
########### some ######## #####
orange ######### ##########

^^ s00p3r s3kr3t c1455!f13d.
r3d4ct3d.

Cassondra said...

P226 said:

But then I think that stems from my idea that deeds, and "being there" and "being supportive" over the long term provide more than a dozen roses ever could. The "goopy stuff" has always rung hollow to me.

You need both. That's the point most men miss. BOTH. ;0)

Cassondra said...

Welcome Jennifer!

We've been so excited about your visit. It's wonderful to hear your story.

Hooooweeeee I thought I wrote long books! MY GOODNESS I honestly don't know how you keep it all straight. After several edits of the longer novels, my head begins to lose track of what's in there and what's not. I can only imagine what you must have gone through with multiple edits of a novel this lengthy.

I'm overwhelmed by your dedication to your story--to your characters' story--and my heart was pounding by the time your CALL came--(good job Kirsten, BTW--great interview). I can feel your passion for your writing here just in this brief chat.

Thank you so much for sharing that--and the words we hear a lot--keep writing--but I don't think we can ever hear them TOO often. So glad there was a "new hire" willing to go to the wall for a great read.

Looking forward to my next bookstore trip!

Cheryl said...

Wonderful interview, Kirsten and Jennifer! Ooh, goody, I’ve found a new author whose books sound just the type I like to read. I miss those doorstopper historicals. :)

What a marvelous, inspirational call story, Jennifer. I love your dedication to research. My favorite books are ones that draw you in to the period, and I can tell just from your interview you do that. I look forward to reading them!

Helen said...

What a wonderful interview your books sound wonderful I remember reading the Thornbirds when it was first released and I read it in one sitting started it on a Saturday afternoon and finished it at about 5-00am Sunday morning I could not put it down. I will be looking for your books Jennifer I love reading a good thick book.

Thanks Kirsten and Jennifer for the post I loved the story about getting you book sold amazing I am glad you never gave up on yourself and as I said I will be trying to get a hold of The Tea Rose I always like to start at the begining.

p226 you look after the GR he was really relaxed when he left Australia.

Have Fun
Helen

Christine Wells said...

Mad Dogs, eh? Can I be a Dane? Although Foanna says I can be a Rotweiler on occasion. Grrr.

Donna MacMeans said...

Kirsten - lovely interview.

Jennifer - I stand in awe of your perseverance and dedication. I'm definitely going to track down your books. Well Done.

What are you working on now? Or does producing a "big book" require a similar recovery before the next big project?

Gillian Layne said...

You had me at "Thornbirds"!

Your interview gave me chills, in a good way! It's so wonderful to see someone who doesn't give up getting the accolades they deserve. And I'm inspired by your levels of research.

If we're needing to ask, please drop my name in the hat :)

Caren Crane said...

Kirsten, wonderful interview! Jennifer, welcome to the Bandits Lair! Please forgive the kerfuffle over the Golden Rooster - it's a daily event around here. No doubt he will escape--er, be returned by--P226 with no permanent damage. You know, after the debriefing.

Jennifer, your journey to publication gives me hope. I'm sure writing for ten years on a single manuscript and getting rejected has to be even worse than working on, say, six or seven in seven years and getting rejected all over the place. *g*

It's so wonderful that your agent believed in you and your work. Obviously, your editor does too. What a wonderful payoff!

I know publishers are loathe to take on long works these days, but I adore them! I can't wait to sink into The Tea Rose. What a treat!

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Jennifer, that was a moving call story. The research, the editing, I am just amazed at what I am learning about authors. I have read romance just about forever and never knew what authors went through to put those books in my hands. If I by chance win then I would want The Tea Rose. Begin at the beginning as my grandmother would have said :-) If I don't win, then the search will be on and I am definitely going to have to get yet another book case.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

P226 the GR is supposed to be your guest, not you commando, thought he did look cute with the beret. It took weeks for the ladies to get that green stuff off of him the last time you had him in your sector. No plucking this time either, it is very cold in some places and we don't want him coming down with pneumonia.

Gannon Carr said...

Welcome, Jennifer! What a wonderful story of perseverance. And you got your HEA! I can't wait to read The Tea Rose. I adore big, epic historicals.

Kirsten said...

doglady--you put it so nicely--writers do have a responsibility to our readers. not just to tell a great story, but to get it right, to do the hard work so it feels effortless. I think that's what we all strive for.

ann m, thanks for visiting! We will definitely get your name in the hat for the prize! :-)

Kirsten said...

Anna, you said it! No goopy words here. But lots of real stories about people who work and struggle to find their HEA. That's the real story of romance. :-)

Kirsten said...

Cassonda--Amen, sister. I know I need both!

Cheryl, I also love the book that makes you forget where you are and takes you to another world. Jennifer definitely writes those kind of books. You're in for a treat.

Helen, you'd have to have a free day to finish the Tea Rose in one shot, but you'll be tempted! I love the long book that lets you grow up with the characters and really feel a part of their lives, not just a brief snapshot, and these are definitely those kind of books.

Kirsten said...

Donna, I asked Jennifer what was coming next for her and this is what she said:

Definitely more historicals. I'm currently plotting out the third book in the Rose series -- The Wild Rose, and working on a new Young Adult novel, too. And then who knows? Maybe I'll be brave, come out of the past where I feel so comfortable, and try a contemporary.

Kirsten said...

Gillian, I agree! This was one of the best call stories I've ever read. And we will definitely put you in the running for the prize. :-)

Caren, thanks for explaining about the GR. I forget that we must seem a little crazy to our guests. LOL.

Kirsten said...

Dianna, you'll have to get a bookshelf JUST for all your RB friends!

Gannon, I hope you enjoy the Tea Rose! We will have you in the running for the prize!

Maureen said...

Congratulations Jennifer on your well earned success. I have not read your first book but it does sound intriguing. History for me was always so dry but throw in a good love story and a wonderful writer and then I'm interested.

CrystalGB said...

Hi Jennifer. Great interview. Your books sound great. I love the beautiful cover.

Jennifer Donnelly said...

Ok...I just read p226's post and I'm scared! I didn't know I was joining up with a band of rooster rustlers!

Jennifer Donnelly said...

flchen1, you are so welcome! I think anyone trying to make it as a novelist today has to have a ready supply of perseverance and faith. I hope you like the book!

Very intrigued about the missing GR....

Jennifer Donnelly said...

p226, yes, it is an enormous challenge, and it seems no matter how hard you work, you never get it all right. And believe me, you hear it when you don't! It causes a lot of lost sleep. I shot awake once at 3 am, over the first page in my YA novel, A Northern Light. I was about to turn in final edits. I had written about a cicada in a tree and I suddenly realized that I had never actually heard the term cicada used in upstate NY, only downstate. The next day I called my Uncle Jack, upstate born and bred, and he told me the proper term in the north woods -- locusts. He saved me many scoldings from Adirondackers, I'm sure.

Re: the HEA...well, I've got many, many pages in which to get it across. Tea Rose, I believe, is over 500, and Winter Rose is over 700, so I can show a longer term development of a relationship. But I think it's essential, if you're trying to convey that, to write with deep and heartfelt emotion. Even if it costs you to do so.

I'm a deeds kind of person myself. Last time I was on the road, I came home wiped out and my husband had a fire going and a glass of wine waiting for me when I arrived. No roses or big verbal Pepe LePew declarations of love, but still...to me, it was a huge and caring declaration of love. Things like that mean a lot to me. But I do agree, they tend to come with a longer, older relationship. When we were in High School -- yep, we go back a ways -- he was big on the flowers.

Jennifer Donnelly said...

Kirsten, as I'm sure you guys all know...nothing to do with writing is effortless. Nothing at all. Kids I talk with will often tell me they can't do, they're no good at it, they have ideas then bog down. What's wrong, they want to know. Nothing, I tell them. Writing is hard because it's hard. Any kind of writing. When you write, you're creating something out of nothing, out of thin air. It's both magical, and utterly grueling.

Jennifer Donnelly said...

Christine W -- thank you! Yes, passion and turmoil -- that's pretty much me in a nutshell. And I think it does come across. And I think readers respond to it. We all have to be pretty reined-in in our day to day lives, and I think, I hope, my books allow readers to escape the emotional constraints we place upon ourselves.

[clutching the pearls here...] Would p226 really hawk the rooster?!!!

Jennifer Donnelly said...

Doglady -- so glad you liked the call story! And many congratulations on finishing your first book! Brava!

When I work on a book, I research and plot concurrently, then start writing. And the research continues while I write. I'm very neurotic, not someone who can just set off with a book not knowing where it's going. So I plot and plan obsessively. I write very long outlines, with every chapter blocked out, so I can see who's doing what where, that the story is progressing, that no one character is spending too much time on center stage.

Jennifer Donnelly said...

ann m -- thank you!

Jennifer Donnelly said...

cassondra -- it is difficult to keep it all straight, and to keep it all balanced, too, so that everyone's story progresses as it should. I do my outlines on my computer, and I often color code scenes, so I can see at a glance whose scene it is. And how often they're appearing. A wee little trick, but it helps.

I should've mentioned that new hire's name. It was a wonderful editor named Sally Kim. No longer at St. Martin's. Now at Shaye Areheart books.

Jennifer Donnelly said...

anna c -- I would love to! But do I have to partake in these dark, nefarious, bird-snatching rites?! I'm too...er...um...chicken!

Thank you for your very kind words about my book. And yes, those pitying looks can get you down, can't they?

I was of course absolutely thrilled with the awards I rec'd for A Northern Light. They kind of blindsided me. I was used to not getting recognition, not being on the radar and suddenly ANL really took off and won the Carnegie Medal, the LA Times Book Prize, and a few more. I definitely didn't expect it. Sometimes you don't think anyone else in the world will even read your story once it's out there, never mind like it, or give it an award.

Jennifer Donnelly said...

cheryl -- I miss those doorstopper books, too! It's why I wrote two of them. Where did they all go? How can we get them back?

Jennifer Donnelly said...

Me, too, Helen. I clearly remember where I was sitting and how old I was when I read A Woman of Substance and The Thornbirds. It's very much etched in my mind.

Jennifer Donnelly said...

Donna M -- alas, no time for recoveries. I'm currently struggling mightily with a new young adult title. Hope to have a completed outline for it by month's end. Hope, being the operative word. Also beginning to map out the third book in the Rose trilogy, The Wild Rose, which I'm really looking forward to writing I really miss that crew when I'm not with them.

Jennifer Donnelly said...

Thanks, Gillian! We should start a Bring Back the Blockbuster movement, I think.

Jennifer Donnelly said...

Caren, I hope you like The Tea Rose! And I just don't get it re: the long book thing. Readers have always liked them. It mystifies me. I read an interview with Diana Gabaldon in which she said she doubted that publishers would publish her books today because of their length -- and look at her devoted readership! It's nuts.

Jennifer Donnelly said...

Dianna, I hear you on the bookcase issue. We moved 6 months ago and the contents of my Brooklyn library is still sitting in too many boxes to count. And books are spilling over everywhere. Stacks, piles, avalanches of books. But I can't bear to let go of any of them.

Jennifer Donnelly said...

gannon, I hope you like it! YOu'll have to let me know what you think. You can email me at my website, www.jenniferdonnelly.com, just in case you don't manage to start and finish it by the end of today!

Jennifer Donnelly said...

Maureen, throw a good love story into just about anything and I'm interested!

Jennifer Donnelly said...

crystal -- thank you! I love that cover, too. It's pretty and a bit mysterious and melancholy, which is just what I wanted.

Deb Marlowe said...

Jennifer,

Many congratulations on your successes! They are so much the sweeter when they come after such trials, as many of us know!

I'm eagerly looking forward to trying your books!

Beth said...

Welcome to the lair, Jennifer! Thank you for sharing your story - your perseverance and hard work is so inspiring! And thanks to Kirsten as well for a great interview *g*

I have to say I'm curious about your writing process. Do you tend to write short and add as you revise/polish or long and end up having to cut pages?

All of your books sound wonderful! More terrific stories to add to my To-Be-Bought list ;-)

Kate Carlisle said...

Wonderful interview, Kirsten! And Jennifer, welcome to the Lair. Pay no attention to those flying feathers...

What an inspiring call story you told! I was misty-eyed as well, and could absolutely relate to the struggle and turmoil you went through to be published. Thanks for sharing it with us.

I'm on my way to Amazon right now to order both books and can't wait to read them! Thanks again!

p226, congratulations! But please...be gentle. He's not the same stiff bird he was before the holidays. He's fat and happy and his brain is tequila-soaked. Yes, he's forgotten all his training--but it's not his fault. I won't mention any names but certain Banditas -cough::Anna::cough- have demonstrated an almost diabolical ability to lull him into a state of cock-addled befuddlement.

So...good luck.

Kim Howe said...

Jennifer,

Thanks for stopping by the Lair today. I was touched by your publication story. I can't imagine how much fun it was for Simon to make that call. I look forward to reading THE TEA ROSE and wish you every success on your journey!

M. said...

the cover for winter rose is one of the most beautiful i've seen in a long time. makes me very curious to see (and read!) the tea rose. and kudos, btw, on such a compelling motif as roses - would be nice to add a few more titles along that line!

Kim said...

Hey Jennifer! So glad to see you over here with my favorite group. Aren't the Banditas fun? Just watch out for that Anna C. She throws parties and hogs Richard all to her self. *g*

Snootchie Bootchies!

Kim, running back to work.

Cassondra said...

KJ Howe said:

I can't imagine how much fun it was for Simon to make that call.

Oh, yes. I mentioned that Godsent new hire (Sally Kim) who was willing to buy the book. But doesn't Simon sound like the agent we all dream of--the one who absolutely believes in what we're doing--even enough to say, "we need to let it sit for a bit", but then to try again when the time is right! I don't have an agent yet, but they're so busy, and in a tight market, this must be rare.

Jennifer, glad you found both agent and editor who believe in your books.

The Golden Rooster normally goes to the first poster (our good friend, doglady brought him to us, and he sort of took off as a first post custom each day)--don't mind our craziness but I'll warn you--once you've had him as your own, you catch a bit of madness I think.....can't seem to stop the chase afterward.

ruth said...

What an interesting and fascinating interview. I have always enjoyed reading juicy family sagas and your intiial novel The Tea Rose was enthralling and captivating. The artwork is extremely attractive and I would love to read this next book.

petite said...

Your interview was impressive and heartwarming. It was gratifying to learn about your awards and your achievements.Congratulations on The Winter Rose. It looks compelling and wonderful. I would enjoy this unique novel.

Jennifer Donnelly said...

Deb -- I hope you enjoy the books! And thanks for your encouraging words, though I'm up for a bit of success without the trials, too!

Jennifer Donnelly said...

Beth -- Oh, I wish I wrote short! And my editors wish I wrote short! I never write short. Give me 500 pages to roam around in and I'm happy. But threaten me with a synopsis or sound byte to write and I come apart. I handed in a synopsis of my very own work once and my agent said it was terrible and to do it over. Luckily, the book sold before I could, and I ended up not having to do it. I was just invited to contribute to a short story collection and I had to decline because I haven't the first clue how to write a short anything!

Jennifer Donnelly said...

Kate, thanks for the welcome! I hope you enjoy the Rose books and I'm glad you liked my story.

Jennifer Donnelly said...

Kim -- thank you for having me! Yes, that was a great call, and a great day, for both of us. I can't say too many wonderful thing about Simon. He's the best.

Jennifer Donnelly said...

M -- I'm busily working away on the third book in the trilogy -- The Wild Rose. The title fits the books heroine perfectly -- but I don't want to say too much more. You'll meet her in The Winter Rose.

Jennifer Donnelly said...

Kim -- the Banditas are fun. And I love the desperado graphics on the home page! So cool!

Jennifer Donnelly said...

Cassondra -- I feel extremely fortunate to have found Simon, and also Steve Malk, my YA books agent at Writers House, and my awesome editors, too.

These relationships are very important. Your agent is your biz partner, advisor, editor, strategist, critic, cheerleader, and if you're as lucky as I've been, your friend, too.

Jennifer Donnelly said...

Ruth -- thank you. We worked long and hard on getting the cover of The Tea Rose right. And I think the jacket for Winter Rose complements it nicely.

diane said...

Your historical novels appeal to me greatly. I have always been interested in lengthy and enticing novels that put me under a spell and yours certainly have that quality. I loved reading the interview which taught me a great deal about your hard work and perseverance. Congrats on this fabulous new novel which I would cherish.

Jennifer Donnelly said...

Petite -- I hope you do! But set aside some time...it's a big one. I'm a more is more kind of gal, and I want readers to feel full and happy and satisfied after they finish it.

jo robertson said...

OH. MY. GOSH. Jennifer, thanks so much for visiting us in the Lair. And Inara, as always, a superb interview.

Honestly, I nearly wept when I heard your call story -- well, okay so maybe it was the northern California wind, but . . . I'm just saying. Such perserverance and determination! I applaud both you and your agent LOL.

I'm so impressed with the amount of research and the apparent accuracy of your historicity -- primary sources, visitations.

A question if you don't mind. How long did it take for you to write the third book, the sequel to The Tea Rose?

jo robertson said...

Oh, p226, congrats! Bok, bok, bok!

jo robertson said...

Trust me, p226, my husband didn't put as much work into his doctorate as Jennifer appears to have done! Maybe it's a man thing, tee hee!

jo robertson said...

Oh, Jennifer, what a sweet gesture from your husband. It's so true that there are times when deeds speak louder than words -- well, actually MANY times LOL. When I got home from a difficult morning today, my husband had cleaned the kitchen! Wow, worth much more than flowers and candy!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, I like to keep my men, uh, roosters, happy, Kate babe! Snork! And Jennifer, never, NEVER mention the word chicken to the rooster. Last time we did, we needed sedatives and a lasso!

You must have been so happy with your covers. They're great!

I think readers love doorstopper books. There's something about losing yourself in something so big and long and complete, like a whole world. I wonder if the absence of doorstopper books accounts partly for the popularity of series books. You know, you get your doorstopper of a family saga but you have to buy four books to have the whole thing!

Jennifer, can you give us some insight into your writing routine now? Do you write full time?

And I love how your agent had faith in you and worked so hard to get you success! Honestly, what an amazing story, it gave me goosebumps.

principessa said...

What an inspiring and uplifting interview. All of your determination and hard work has resulted in these two magnificent novels which are treasures. I enjoy heavy meaningful tomes which give me insight into life and the characters and these certainly provide that. Best of luck. Your writing is original and I could get lost within the pages.

Susan Seyfarth said...

Jennifer, thanks so much for swinging by the lair! I'm a huge fan of the sweeping historical saga & of love stories that have a little bite & edge. I can't wait to get started on the Roses. And thanks so much for sharing your wonderful call story. I think all of us as yet unpubbeds recognize ourselves there, & will take heart.

Susan

tetewa said...

Jennifer would be a new author for me. Her books sound like ones I need to add to my TBR pile. Enjoyed the interview today as I'm always looking to discover new authors.

brownone said...

Congrats on nabbing him p226...be good to him! ;-)

Jennifer, I keep eyeballing The Tea Rose online. I've been reading exerpts and am very interested. I think I'll be snatching it up next shopping trip!

catslady said...

Oh these are the kind of books I started reading way back when! I always went for the thickest historical book I could find because I get so attached to the characters and I never want the book to end. There just aren't many authors out there any more willing to put so much into one book. I can't wait to read yours!!

jenna said...

When I read the Tea Rose I was completely spellbound with this novel. Your uplifting interview gives me a great deal of understanding about the entire wirting process and your trials and tribulations. What striking artwork for your new novel, The WInter Rose. Amazing and beautiful. It is special.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Welcome to the Lair Jennifer! Watch out for swinging Banditas from the rafters and Joan's half dressed Roman hunks serving as cabanna boys!

The Tea Rose sounds yummy! It's cold here in Texas this week and your book might be just the thing to curl up with tonight. Hmmm, a trip to the book store...geesh that would be a hardship, wouldn't it? :)

Seriously, your call story brings chills to me. It also inspires those of us working to get that first contract to keep forging ahead. Thanks for sharing it.

flchen1 said...

Kirsten (and Jennifer), I'm definitely looking forward to reading Jennifer's books--so much to love!! (And long books give me more to savor, whereas sometimes the short ones are over too soon!)

And amen, Cassondra--as a woman, I want both! The "goopy" stuff, and the day-to-day actions that show me how he really feels :)

p226 said...

NEVER mention the word chicken to the rooster.

Congrats on nabbing him p226...be good to him! ;-)


Where do you think he is? It has been my opinion that the GR has been in DIRE need of some R&R.

mm hmm.

From the sound of it, he's having a good time.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Oh Kirsten! I really like that idea, at the rate I am going it wouldn't take me any time at all to fill it up. When my daughter was in for Christmas she made me a little reading area and a bookshelf for my TBR pile is right next to the chair. Until I get a new book case I can reserve the upper shelves just for RB books. :-D

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Oh yes Jennifer, my daughter was in for Christmas and thought she would get mom and her books organized, uh huh, well, now they aren't even in alphabetical order! She started dumping shelves and there they were, the floor, the couch, everywhere, my son kept saying, mom, you have too many books. There is no such thing as TOO many books is there?

Nancy said...

Oh, dear--the rooster suffered so dreadfully the last time you had him, p226 *sigh*. Try to treat him kindly this time.

Okay, just saw the "poof" thing. And the cammo thing. I hear the Aussies are on the way, and the armed Banditas are probbly right behind them. I'd tread carefully ...

Jennifer, what a wonderful call story! I don't think writers can hear enough stories extolling the value of persistence. Your research sounds fabulous. I love atmospheric stories.

Anna C., I also love "doorstopper" books. Sometimes, I don't mind a book that takes longer to read, especially if it's packed with good stuff!

Jennifer Donnelly said...

Thank you, Diane! Lengthy and enticing are two things I also look for in a book.

Jennifer Donnelly said...

Jo, it took me about three years to write The Winter Rose. I had just signed the contract for it when I found out I was pregnant and the whole pregnancy/newborn thing slowed me down a lot!

Jennifer Donnelly said...

Jo, I'd take a clean kitchen over a dozen roses any day of the week!

Jennifer Donnelly said...

Anna C -- yes, I do write fulltime now. I generally get started around 9, go til 3:30, take time to be with my daughter, have dinner and all that, then go back at it after she's in bed, around 8 or so. If I can, I get in some time on the weekends, too. There's never, ever enough time.

Jennifer Donnelly said...

Principessa -- why, thank you, your majesty!

Jennifer Donnelly said...

Susan, do take heart! One of my fave quotations is from Churchill -- "Never, never, never give up." I have it on my wall and look at it a lot.

Jennifer Donnelly said...

Tetewa -- is that TBR pile as big as mine? Like...the size of the Empire State Building?!

Jennifer Donnelly said...

Brownone -- I hope you like it! And The Winter Rose, too!

Jennifer Donnelly said...

Catslady -- There is a lot in both Rose books. I don't like skinny books!

Jennifer Donnelly said...

Thank you, Jenna!

Jennifer Donnelly said...

Swinging banditas, cabana boys...AND that rooster! Oh, if only I'd known what I was getting into to! Not a lair...a total den of iniquity!

Jennifer Donnelly said...

Dianna, you know I once alphabetized my books -- what a mistake! I couldn't find a thing! Never again. Now I keep them grouped by subject. Fiction mixed with non-fiction. It works for me!

Jennifer Donnelly said...

Thanks, Nancy, I love atmosphere in a book, too. Actually, I need it or I can't get into the story at all.

Jennifer Donnelly said...

Just want to thank you all again for inviting me, and for all your kind and encouraging words about my work.

I really enjoyed meeting you all - I hope the rooster made it to a safe house -- and I hope our paths cross again soon!

With thanks and best wishes,

Jennifer

Christine Wells said...

Jennifer, it's been a pleasure! Thank you for being such a fab guest and I hope you'll come back and visit us soon!

Kirsten said...

Wow, I go to work for the day and you all have a fabulous time without me! Thanks everyone for giving Jennifer such a warm Bandita welcome! I will be announcing the winner soon! :-)

Anna Campbell said...

Jennifer, thanks for coming to visit the den of iniquity (sheesh, you worked that out quickly! We're not hiding our secret lives the way we used to!). You've been a fantastic guest. Good luck!