Monday, July 29, 2013

I HEART YA: Author Interview: Jena Leigh (Revival)

Author Jena Leigh drops by TeamNerd to chat about her debut novel, Revival, what Variant power she would want to have if she could choose, what the most surprising thing is to writing a book and some random fun facts about her!

TeamNerd Reviews: Tell us a little about yourself!

Jena Leigh: I’m a complete dork when I’m not being a total crackhead—and by that I mean I’m a delightful mix of hyper and weird. Not that I’m addicted to cocaine. I’m just naturally crazy… The only things I’m actually addicted to are books and coffee. Also, I heart live music and bad sci-fi. And Skittles.

TeamNerd Reviews: How did you come up with the idea for Revival?

Jena Leigh: The inspiration for the Variant Series as a whole came from many different places, but the original spark for Revival came in the form of my morning coffee. One day at the coffee shop, the barista had drawn the shape of a phoenix into the foam on my latte. The image set my mind to wandering and I spent the next half hour writing out a scene where a young girl was being chased by a wall of flames through a burning bookstore. That piece would eventually become the opening scene of Chapter Four in Revival.

TeamNerd Reviews: Are any of your character's personalities or appearances based on anyone that you know in real life?

Jena Leigh: Almost every character in the series is made up of traits and habits of people that I actually know... But I try not to base any of the characters entirely on any one person from my life. So for the most part, none of them are exact copies.

TeamNerd Reviews: If you could have any Variant power, what would it be?

Jena Leigh: I’d give anything to have Declan’s jumping ability! To be able to teleport anywhere in the world in the blink of an eye would be fantastic.

TeamNerd Reviews: What was the hardest and most surprising thing about writing this book?

Jena Leigh: Good question… I’d have to say the hardest thing about writing Revival was just sticking with it. If it hadn’t been for my friend Carrie’s constant encouragement, I would have abandoned the project roughly a dozen times over. Between my poor health and my frustrations with the plot, I had plenty of reasons to give up. In the end, the feeling of accomplishment that came with finally publishing my first novel made the struggles more than worth it!

As for the most surprising thing about writing Revival… Well, when it comes to writing, I’m (for the most part) a total pantser. That is to say, I tend to write by the seat of my pants instead of relying on a pre-established plotline. Because of that, I was always surprised (and often delighted) by the way an offhand comment or action by a character in one of the early scenes would play perfectly into a major event or revelation later on in the book. In that respect, a lot of the twists in the plot surprised me just as much as they surprised readers.

TeamNerd Reviews: Can you tell us a little about book 2? Do you have a title or release date yet? I just know people are dying for this information!

Jena Leigh: Ah, the troublesome Book 2! The book was supposed to be released last month, but you know what they say about the best-laid plans… Roughly 25,000 words in, I came to a rather nasty realization—everything I’d written up until that point actually belonged in Book 3. Too much needed to happen in-between the end of Revival and the start of that particular storyline. So here’s what happened instead: everything I had written up until that point became the opening of Book 3, and the new Book 2 is now on track to be released this fall.

The good news? Book 3 is nearly half-written! So with any luck, you won’t have long to wait for its release! The tone of a book tends to dictate the title, so the official titles for Books 2 and 3 won’t be determined until closer to their release dates… For now, however, their working titles are Resistance for Book 2 and Redemption for Book 3.

And as for what Book 2 is about… Let’s just say that Alex is having a little trouble getting used to her new abilities—and, thanks to Masterson, avoiding them is no longer an option! (And for all of you die-hard Alex/Declan ’shippers… I can promise you that this next book is something you will not want to miss.)

TeamNerd Reviews: What was your all time favorite book in High School?

Jena Leigh: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas… It was my first taste of the classics and is still one of my all-time favorites.

TeamNerd Reviews: What are you currently reading?

Jena Leigh: I’m roughly halfway through John Dies at the End by David Wong—but it’s been sitting unloved on my nightstand recently, on account of my crazy schedule and my habit of not reading when I’m working on a major writing project (namely, Books 2 and 3 of the Variant series!). 

TeamNerd Reviews: Most anticipated TV Fall premier?

Jena Leigh: The Tomorrow People reboot on the CW!  I’m curious to see how they write the story this (the third!) time around… Will the kids still be aliens? Will their powers be as amazing as I remember? Being a pre-teen in the nineties meant that I was at the perfect age to enjoy the second series when it aired on Nickelodeon. I had a ridiculous crush on the character Adam (Hellooo, Kristian Schmid!)… And I’d been watching and reading the X-Men for years at that point. The Tomorrow People made for the perfect TV obsession… Here’s hoping the new CW show lives up to my fond memories of the (exceptionally cheesy, yet wonderful) ‘90s series!

TeamNerd Reviews: Five random facts about you!

Jena Leigh:

            1.  I’m a sucker for books that have a bad-boy-with-a-good-heart love interest.
            2. If a late ‘90s or early ‘00’s dance song starts playing and I recognize it, I will bust a terribly uncoordinated move… No matter who might be there to witness it.
            3. I’m a zombie without my morning coffee. (Or my lunch coffee… Or my afternoon coffee…)
            4. I have a purple pixie haircut now. Purple pixie haircuts are cool. Kinda like bowties. And fezzes. 

            5. Lucero is my favorite band of all time. (The one fronted by Ben Nichols. Not the Mexican songstress of the same name. Although I’m sure she’s wonderful, too.)

Win a SIGNED copy of REVIVAL or an ecopy on the I HEART YA page!

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