Posted on September 6, 2019 at 8:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek
Jennifer G. Edelson is a writer, artist, former attorney, pizza lover, UFO enthusiast and hard-core Bollywood fan.
She has a BFA in sculpture and a J.D. in law and has taught both creative writing and legal research and writing at several fine institutions, including the University of Minnesota.
A California native, Edelson currently resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with her husband, kids, and dog, Hubble, after surviving twenty-plus years in the Minnesota tundra (but still considers Los Angeles, the Twin Cities, and Santa Fe all home).
Other than writing, she loves hiking, traveling, Albert Camus, Dr. Seuss, dark chocolate, and meeting new people — if you’re human (or otherwise), odds are she’ll probably love you.
SADYE: How did you come to see yourself as a writer, and what inspired you to seek publication?
JENNIFER: I've always written, and I've always loved writing, but never thought of myself as a “real” writer.
“Real” writers were like unicorns or UFOs; I suspected they existed but also knew I'd never be invited to the party.
Eventually, I decided that even though I wrote often and passionately, it was always going to be more of a side gig.
After law school, I clerked for a judge who off-handedly mentioned that all of my briefs read like short stories (my mentor in law school when I interned for the U.S. government once said the same thing!).
He asked me if I’d ever considered writing a book and encouraged me to try doing so.
At that point, I was like, well, yeah, okay, maybe there’s something to this writing thing. So I sat down and tried writing a memoir just to see if I could.
Since then, I’ve written seven books (mostly YA), a monthly column about writing for an online magazine, and won several short story fiction contests.
And I still grapple with what being a “real” writer means. But I've also embraced the idea that I’m not defined by a single word. Nor do I have to define it.
Once I really let go of my preconceptions and stopped worrying so much about proving myself to an outside audience, or being judged, I found myself writing more often and more honestly.
It sounds simple, but in a nutshell, I love writing and have such a passion for it, once I divested myself of the notion that I had something to prove, sharing it with people just seemed like the next most natural thing to do.
SADYE: Which of your characters would you most and least like to become romantically involved with?
JENNIFER: I’ve written numerous books and short stories and in more than half of them I’ve really fallen for my characters.
But if we’re talking Between Wild and Ruin, my book launching on September 28, then oh my gosh, I’d LOVE to get to know Ezra better.
I think one of the reasons the love story in the book works so well for people, is because the writer (me!) is absolutely smitten with Ezra. Through truth be told, I really adore and love Angel too.
My dirty secret is, though I always knew which way the romance was headed while I wrote Between Wild and Ruin, I waffled between who I wanted Ruby to end up with ultimately. ...
The character I’m least likely to end up with? I wrote a La Femme Nikita meets the Bourne Identity type novel sometime back, and while I found one of the antagonists in it, Charlie, extremely attractive on many levels, he’s the kind of person I’d run far, far away from in real life.
Too much damage and way too dangerous in ways that are only fun in edgy spy/romance novels.
SADYE: What have been the most surprising, rewarding, and challenging parts of your writing career?
JENNIFER: The most surprising and challenging thing about writing this last year has definitely been how rigorous and energy-sapping the actual publishing process is.
Lately I felt like the business end of writing, and the decisions that go along with it, have sucked every bit of creative energy I have out of me.
I currently have writer’s block because of it and can trace that writer’s block to sheer exhaustion, especially as I get ready to launch Between Wild and Ruin.
I’m confident it will be worth it ultimately, but I’d be lying if I said there isn’t a part of me that’s questioned here and there whether publishing is something I want to keep doing.
I love writing with a kind of passion even the writer in me barely has words for, and I’m pretty certain that when Between Wild and Ruin is out, I’ll re-visit this maybe-I-don’t-want-really-want-to-publish-after-all idea — but I have been wondering lately whether I'm cut out for it.
I have family in publishing and have been to publishing conferences, so I felt like I had a realistic idea of the publishing process going into it — of how difficult and time consuming it would be — and even so, I’m still a little surprised by the level of time and commitment it takes to produce a commercially viable, amazing product.
Not to mention how difficult it’s been to refocus and think of my book as a product to begin with. It’s definitely been a steep learning curve.
On the other end of that, though, is how rewarding writing is for me in general. I’ve never needed an audience or accolades to reinforce my love for it.
When I sit down to write, I’m completely transported, often for hours and hours on end.
And I’m so entirely in love with what I’m doing, I feel like the luckiest person while I’m doing it. That alone has been worth all the feels in the world.
SADYE: What period of history would you most like to travel back to and why?
JENNIFER: Picking just one era to travel back to is really hard ... maybe let's go with the 1950s.
Setting aside a whole host of ways society in the '50s treated woman and minorities (let’s just pretend it’s an alternate utopia '50s), I’m fascinated by what seems like a veneer of promise, potential, and possibly.
From a sociological perspective, I’d be really interested in understanding how we’ve romanticized the fifties in the here and now versus how is really was back then.
I also adore the clothes from that era and would love to rock those fit-and-flare A-line dresses!
SADYE: What experience in your past or general aspect of your life has most affected your writing?
JENNIFER: Traveling has probably been the biggest influence on my writing.
When I’m out in a new, and especially unfamiliar setting, I almost always find myself wanting to tell stories about it.
Inevitably and without fail, I’ll lie in bed at night while my head weaves everything I’ve seen and experienced earlier into a story idea.
It’s like a reset, where everything from the people, to the geology, to the food, stimulates my imagination.
People often comment about how atmospheric my stories are, or about my attention to detail when it comes to describing a place.
I love that people notice that, because when I fall in love with a place, like I did with the Glorieta Pass in my forthcoming book Between Wild and Ruin, I want everyone to love it as much as I do.
A lot of time it’s a new place itself that prompts me to write a new story.
Half the time I don’t even know what story I want to tell; I just know I have to find a way to write about a certain place or setting.
In that way, my story’s setting is often as much of a character as the people. ...
Movement also reminds me life isn’t stagnant; that there are millions of stories outside my own waiting to be told.
When I get out of my head like that, it’s much easier for me to hold this space where I’m fundamentally aware that all us share similar passions, and sorrows, and fears, and wonder, even if all manifests differently.
It makes me want to tell stories that people can emotionally connect to, and maybe because of it, realize that though we’re all unique individuals, at our base, we’re not really as alone as we sometimes feel, or truly all that different from each other.
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Categories: Author Interview