J Philip Horne

Six Question Saturday with Jenelle Leanne Schmidt

Here’s our author for today’s Six Question Saturday!

Jenelle is a rare and elusive creature known as an “author.” She enjoys wandering in the woods, opening doors in search of hidden passageways, and carrying on animated conversations with those strange and invisible beings known as “characters.”

Jenelle grew up the oldest of four children. Every night before bedtime her father read to her and her siblings, and it was during these times that her love for adventure and fantasy were forged. While she adored the stories of the Lord of the Rings, the Chronicles of Prydain, the Wheel of Time, and the Chronicles of Narnia; it wasn’t long before her imagination led her to the creation of a world and story all her own.

Jenelle has three published novels in the Minstrel’s Song series available, with the fourth and final book coming soon. She also won a spot in the Five Enchanted Roses collection of retellings of Beauty and the Beast during the Rooglewood Five Something Something contest.

Jenelle lives in the frozen tundra of Wisconsin with her husband Derek and their children: Leiana Arwen, Nathalie Eowyn, Brantland Eomer, and Grayden Erebor. (Yes, she is an unapologetic nerd).

You can find her here.

Now… on to the six questions! If you have any questions of your own, please leave them in the comments, and hopefully Jenelle will drop by and answer them.

Question 1: Is there another life experience you’ve had that you believe compares well to writing your first novel in terms of both the difficulty and sense of accomplishment? If not, what do you think might compare well?

One winter, my husband and I went to the Cascade Mountains to visit my brother and his wife. On that trip, we went snow-shoeing for the first time and hiked up a mountain. It was not quite what I was expecting… as I was envisioning an older style of snow-shoes, more like the ones Pa Ingalls might have worn, and had never seen modern snowshoes before. There were definitely moments that were extremely difficult, and the shoes took a bit of time to get used to, but for the most part, the experience was so much fun. And the view at the top of the mountain where we stopped for a picnic was absolutely breath-taking. I would say that experience was pretty close to what it felt like writing and finishing my first novel. Snowshoeing didn’t take nearly as long, though!

Question 2: Tell us about that moment you decided to actually complete a novel. Had writing been on your mind for years, or was it a sudden impulse? What did you do next?

I had always enjoyed writing. I spent most of my childhood making up stories and then acting them out with my siblings and cousins… usually grand adventures. But I always sort of had this idea that writing would cease being fun if I tried to do it as my “job.”

However, when my dad challenged me to write an adventure tale and finish it during the summer between my Freshman and Sophomore college years… and then offered me a tantalizing monetary reward… well, that sort of made me willing to push those doubts to the side and try and see if writing a novel that anyone liked was even something I was capable of doing.

Question 3: What’s your writing setup? How do you take notes? What’s your process to develop a first draft? Are any tools critical to your success?

First, I get an idea. This might be a character or the glimmerings of a plot, or even a setting. Then, I talk it over endlessly with my husband. He is my sounding board, and without him, most of my books would never get written! Sometimes the story starts because he’s been drawing maps and creating fantasy realms… and then the story starts to come together from there.

I take notes in a variety of different ways and places. I have an old, beat-up journal that I will jot notes in upon occasion, or even handwrite scenes in if I am somewhere I can’t access my computer. I have recently switched over to Scrivener and really enjoy how it enables me to keep all my notes in a single place along with my rough draft.

When I start drafting, I write the story from beginning to end. I may rearrange scenes later, but I write it straight through.

Question 4: What book or series would you most love to see made into a movie or Netflix series? What would you fear the director or screenwriter would get wrong?

Hmm, that’s a tough question. A lot of my answers have already been made into movies or Netflix series… and a few more are in the works to come out shortly. For example: I am both excited and nervous about A Wrinkle in Time… I am a bit concerned that they won’t get the relationships between everyone right.

I would have to say that almost any fantasy book or series I’ve loved is one I would enjoy seeing on a screen. The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede, or any of the books I’ve read recently by the Fellowship of Fantasy authors. My biggest concern would be with any of these being made in a way that depicts them as “cheesy” if that makes sense. Fantasy appears to be a genre that movie makers struggle with, Peter Jackson’s foray into the Lord of the Rings being a notable exception.

Question 5: Can you write some verse (any form) that describes your hopes as an author? Or the theme of one of your books?

Sure! I am going to cheat slightly, though, and use this moment to share a snippet from my upcoming book, Minstrel’s Call. I often write poetry or songs into my books, and this one sort of captures the way I feel about reading and writing. Diving into a new story is always an adventure that beckons me with its siren song.

Just surround me with horizon across rippling waters blue
For though, my dear, I love thee, my heart is only true
To the adventure of the seas and the mournful mermaid’s songs
Upon the ocean’s wild waves is where my soul belongs.

Though mighty winds may rage and toss my ship about
I will remain forever, loyal and devout
Chasing my ocean love with every sail unfurled
Until I die or safely come to the very edge of the world.

I’ll follow her forever, my one and only love
Guided by her waves and the constant stars above
I’ll sail far away to strange uncharted lands
And there I’ll make my home, upon the nameless sands.

Question 6: You step onto an elevator with three other people, all representatives of your core audience. The doors close. You have their attention until they get off 18 floors later. Buddy the elf is not on the elevator with you, so it’s going to be a quick trip. What do you say to convince them to read your novels?

“Dragons! Dragons are what bring us together, today. Their might and magic and cunning are unparalleled in fantasy fiction and they feature heavily in my Minstrel’s Song series. If you love dragons, battles, heroic warriors, feisty princesses, quests, coming-of-age stories, and quirky minstrels who are more than they seem… then I can assure you that you will love my books, which contain all of these things and more. They have been called ‘Tolkien-lite’ by my current fans, a description I am humbled and honored by.”

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