The guest-of-the-day at Reading Reality is Jeffe Kennedy, the author of the new contemporary fantasy Rogue’s Pawn. It’s the first book of her new series, Covenant of Thorns, and there are definitely some thorny things going on in Faery, based on events in the first book. But I still can’t wait for what Jeffe calls RP2 in this interview. Rogue’s Pawn was fascinating, confusing and complex (see this review for more details on that) and I can hardly wait to learn more about her take on the Fae.
But in the meantime, here’s Jeffe on how she’s really a lot like her cats, and more.
Tell us a little bit about Jeffe Kennedy when she’s not writing. Who is the inventor of Rogue’s Pawn away from her keyboard?
She’s not all that interesting, really. I like to read when I can and lie in the sun. I drink as much wine as I can get away with and I exercise every day to compensate. For the most part, I like being at home and I like being outside as much as I can. I have a series of little sitting spots – the front patio, the back patio, the grape arbor. I’m like a cat that way – I move from soft spot to soft spot.
I grew up reading fantasy and science fiction – and the stories I liked best were the ones with the ordinary person who got transported to another time or world. Usually the person was a boy and I often felt like a girl would do it differently. I usually wanted more detail, like what would happen to the contact lenses I’ve had to wear since I was 12? I always came away thinking I’d tell the story differently. This was my big chance!
In Rogue’s Pawn, Gwynn is such a “fish out of water” character. Did you plan it that way from the beginning? Are you a plotter or a pantser? Or do your characters take over?
I did plan it that way, to the extent that I plan anything . I’m very much a pantser, though I like the term “mister” better. I knew what would happen to Gwynn, that she’d end up in Faerie and it would be bizarre and frightening and beautiful – and totally alien. But after that, I just ride along on the shoulders of my characters and discover things as they do. That’s why I like “misting” as an analogy. Much of the story for me is shrouded in mist and I can’t see what’s going on until I get right up close to it.
Who first introduced you to the love of reading?
My mother. She read to me every night and is a great reader herself. As a young woman, she made lists of “great books” she should read to improve her mind and she’s been involved in one book group for over thirty years now. Over time, I’ve managed to corrupt her somewhat and taught her to love the jucier genre books, too.
Who influenced your decision to become a writer?
That’s a very interesting question. Really, no one did – not in the way you mean, I think. I had teachers who told me I wrote well, but none of them suggested I become a writer. I showed a lot of aptitude for math and science, so I think they all thought (rightly so) that those would be more secure and lucrative career paths. I decided to become a writer all by myself, because I was profoundly unhappy doing the math and science thing with nothing else. I had reached a crisis point in my life where I had to ask myself what I *really* wanted. The answer surprised me.
What’s your favorite part about the writing experience, and why?
When the story takes over and I’m just along for the ride. It’s the most exciting, exhilarating experience there is.
What book do you recommend everyone should read, and why?
Hmm. I’m not much for “shoulds.” I think writers are well served by reading extensively, both in and out of their genres. If there’s a blockbuster book, a phenomenon like Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games, Fifty Shades of Grey, then I think writers are foolish not to read them, regardless of their personal opinions. There are reasons why readers love these books – and that’s worth studying.
For readers? I think A.S. Byatt’s Possession is one of the most brilliant books I’ve ever read. Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood tells one of the best tales of young female friendships that I know of. In nonfiction, I think it’s really worthwhile to read Lucy Grealy’s Autobiography of a Face and then immediately read Ann Patchett’s Truth and Beauty, for her side of the story and great insight into the friendships authors – and women – have.
Other than that, I really recommend that everyone read exactly what they wish to, and don’t let anyone tell them what they should and shouldn’t read.
What projects do you have planned for the future? And there’s more of this series, right? Please?
LOL – yes! I’m thick in the middle of the sequel to Rogue’s Pawn, which I’m just calling RP2 at the moment. I feel very action-hero calling it that. And let me tell you – hearing you all ask for more is now my second favorite part of the writing experience. I’m just so thrilled.
I saw on your website that you have (or are had by) quite the menagerie. Does the border collie try to herd the Maine Coon cats? And how’s that working out?
Just the opposite! Our border collie is a quintessential beta dog and the older Maine coon cat is very protective and sassy. She does *not* like to be stepped on. Or any behavior that might lead to being stepped on or crowded in any way. Our old kitty died in March and now we have a new Maine coon kitten. Fastest little thing any of us have ever seen. Both the older cat and the dog and running in circles trying to keep their eyes on him – and him off their tails!
Morning person or night owl?
Night owl by nature but I trained myself to be a morning person, just to get everything done that I need to!
I got lost in the cute kitten pictures on Jeffe’s blog. If Jackson (the Maine Coon kitten pictured above and at left) isn’t the cutest kitten ever, he’s definitely in the top ten. I’m amazed she gets anything done with this little guy in her arms. Oh the sacrifices we cat servitors must make!
I know I’ll be looking forward to RP2 as soon as the cats permit!