Jennifer Kathleen Gibbons is the author of Ella Bella, Take What You Got And Fly With It, and I Woke Up In Love This Morning. She lives in Lafayette, California.
What is your latest book?
My latest e-book is Ella Bella, a YA novel that tells the story of Ella Drake, a girl whose father dies (I’m not giving anything away; this happens in the first pages!) then her mother loses her job a month later. I know it’s a lot for a girl to handle, but I always want to read about people who have survived the worst yet somehow manages to survive—maybe even thrive—when the world is against you.
What else have you written?
I’ve written a mini short story collection for Middle Grade/YA readers called I Woke Up In Love This Morning, which has done quite well on Amazon. I call it my “Babies, Blood and Boobs” book, because the short stories deal with those issues. My other ebook is Take What You Got and Fly With It, a collection of essays. The title is a quote of Jim Henson’s that I just love.
What was the most valuable class you ever took in school? Why?
In high school, I LOVED all my English classes. I also took Creative Writing my last two years. My teacher was Jane Juska, who wrote the bestselling memoir A Round Heeled Woman. She was very honest and held me to the fire when I wasn’t writing. At the time I resented it, now I’m glad she did it. My freshman year I took a Human Relations class which was one of the most popular classes at my high school. No topic was off limits, which was great.
In college I took many many lit classes, and of course writing workshops. All of them helped me become a better writer.
What do you think some of the greatest misconceptions about indie authors are?
That we’re no talents. Or we’re lazy. One of the best YA ebooks I read last year was How To Repair A Mechanical Heart by J.C. Lillis, who’d been through the query cycle with agents and was burned out by it. It’s incredibly funny and daring, but some might dismiss it because she’s an indie writer. The sad thing is they’re missing out on a wonderful story. That’s not saying I’ve read some bad indie books, but I’ve read bad traditionally published books, so it’s all the same.
Some authors, like me, always write scenes in order. But I know some people write scenes out of order. How about you?
It depends on the story! Ella Bella was written in order. It was my senior project for college and I was required to write an outline for the story. However the WIP I’m working on now deals with a tragic time in Bay Area/American history, and every time I tried writing it in order I froze. I simply couldn’t do it. However this summer I decided to write from the end and go in reverse. When I started doing that, I became unfrozen. It’s far from perfect but it’s better than before.
Do you have any advice for first-time authors?
The best advice I heard when I was a teenager was from Anne Tyler: Read read read and revise revise revise. Keep going. Do the best you can. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Most of all, keep going.
What’s your favorite film of all times? Favorite book?
Fave book is a three way tie: East of Eden by John Steinbeck, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I loved all the movies based on the novels as well. Favorite movie? Nashville directed by Robert Altman comes to mind, along with Auntie Mame. All of John Hughes’ films.
What music soothes your soul?
All types! All my writing has music connected with it; my characters are like me in the fact they love music. With Ella Bella her dad loved the Beatles, so I listened to them as I wrote, or Beatles covers. The WIP I’m doing right now has flashbacks to the seventies, so I’ve been listening to the Bay City Rollers! They had such energy when they sang; it was obvious they received energy from their young fans.
If you are a TV watcher, would you share the names of your favorite with us?
Having a DVR helps a lot; I get all my TV watching done within a couple of hours. Current shows I love are: Big Bang Theory, Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey, Mad Men, Major Crimes and Project Runway. I love vintage shows way too much. I just got a new channel that shows the old Bea Arthur show Maude. I’ve been known to binge watch the show and sing the theme song. It’s not pretty.
CONNECT WITH JENNIFER