- Intro: What’s your name, what do you write, where can readers find you on social media? And just for fun, if you could be any mythological being, what or who would you be? My name is Jenelle Leanne Schmidt. Currently I write epic fantasy and fairy tale retellings. I have a sci-fi mystery in the works, as well.
- What was the first story idea you had and would you ever consider publishing it? The first story idea I ever had was about two orphan girls who ran away from an orphanage, hid in the woods, built a house there, found and tamed a wild horse, and took him to the race tracks where they managed to win the Triple Crown with him. It was called Snakedancer… and NO, I would never consider publishing it. It was awful! But it did teach me that I could finish a story!
- On your website, you wrote that you became a serious writer after your dad challenged you to write 10 pages a day and finish the book by the end of your first summer of college. What was that story and is it published? That story was what became King’s Warrior. Yes, it is published and can be found on Amazon. It is a story about a man who used to be the champion of the king, and how when invaders threaten their kingdom he is called out of retirement to help save his country once again. There is also a feisty princess, magic, and some pretty awesome dragons… if I do say so myself.
- Do you find there are central themes or elements that are unique to your books? (For example, are you drawn to anti-heroes, antagonists, certain settings etc.) Why do those things stand out to you? I love writing characters who have fairly healthy home-lives. While I do have a few orphans here and there, several of my characters actually have wonderful, loving parents! Family has always been very important to me, and I think that is often reflected in my writing. I also like to write about characters who are more than they seem at first glance, characters who would be easy to overlook or underestimate.
- What is your most recent publication about and how does that premise stand out among your others? My most recent publication is Minstrel’s Call, which is the fourth and final book in the series that begins with King’s Warrior. I would say that the premise stands out in that a lot of my central themes come full circle. Characters who were young adults in the first book have grown up, gotten married, and are now facing the prospect of being parents themselves. Characters who were mysterious are explained, and most of the secrets and mysteries are tied up. Not all of them, though… I don’t like leaving tons of loose ends, but a few mysteries left unsolved are a good thing!
- What are the characters like? Noble, honorable, strong-willed, loyal, and kind. They have their flaws, of course. Some of them tend to speak without thinking, and their sharp tongues can have hurtful repercussions. Some of them can act without thinking, and they end up in difficulties because of that. They can be selfish. But for the most part, they are the sort of people you would want to hang out with and have as friends. Not because they are perfect – far from it! But because they are the type of people who never give up on goodness.
- What is/are one or two pieces of advice that you learned while publishing your first book that you wish you had known before you started? I wish I had known more about editing and rewriting before I had started publishing. It would have been nice to be able to apply those lessons I have learned about editing to my first book!
- How old were you when you published your first book and how has your process changed since then? I was 30 when I published my first book. My process has not changed a ton, though I have streamlined it a bit. The editing parts of the process have gotten more intense, and I make sure to take each story through several passes of editing and editors before I publish.
- Favorite quote from your own work? There are quite a few… but I’d have to say my all-time favorite so far is from Minstrel’s Call:
Brant growled deep in his throat. “I liked it better when it was just a worthless hunk of rock. Now it’s a worthless hunk of rock, and it’s mocking me. It’s just like Kiernan Kane to send an urgent message hidden in an indecipherable mess of prophetic rhyme. By the time we’ve figured out what the thing means, we’ll be in the middle of danger only to realize that every assumption we made was completely wrong.”
- What is one marketing strategy that you think every author needs to try? I have no idea. Marketing is not my favorite thing… and it is definitely my greatest weakness when it comes to this authoring journey I’m on!
- What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex? Honestly, I have a much easier time writing male characters than female characters. I have so many great male influences in my life, that I tend to model my characters off of them and they gain a life of their own. I think the one place I struggle is that my male characters might be a little bit too chatty, so I often have to rework things in my stories where I’ve had a male character talking too much – and it can be difficult to learn to convey the character growth/realizations without doing it through dialogue!
- What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult) When I write about my own life, I tend to write most often about my childhood. I have so many great memories of grand adventures before the age of 10.
- What do you owe to the real-life people who inspired your characters? I owe them so much. They are the reason my characters have any life at all.
- What’s your favorite writing-related memory? That very first summer writing King’s Warrior… I was racing through the story, desperately trying to finish it before the end of the summer… scribbling frantically during my breaks at work, and when I got home before supper. The absolute best part of that was the final week of summer, my family went on vacation up to a little cabin on a lake in Minnesota and my dad read the final pages of my book out loud to the family out on the dock… and there was this huge meteor shower going on. We were lying on the dock, staring up at the sky and watching God’s firework show. My dad read for a bit, but when the meteors started really going, he put the book down and watched with us!
- What’s a favorite moment you’ve had with a fan/someone who’s read your work? I always love that moment when I can hand my dad the final, published copy of my latest book. He’s the one who challenged me to write in the first place, and I love being able to give back to him in the form of stories he loves. I also love any moment when a fan writes me a note thanking me or sends me a question or wants to discuss various parts of my book, that’s always a blast!
- One thing more people should know about self-publishing? That it is hard work and takes a lot of effort. Also, that indie authors aren’t necessarily “lesser” authors just because they don’t have a publishing contract.
- One piece of advice you would give to young writers? The best piece of advice I can give is the one that was given to me 17 years ago: “If you want to be a writer, you should be writing.”
Thanks for the great interview, Jenelle! Don’t forget to check out her books! As always, keep making magic, word weavers!