Welcome to day three of Megg Jensen’s book tour for Oubliette! My reviews will be posted later on today, but we got to sit down and chat with Megg about a little bit of everything! Enjoy!
TTS: The Top Shelf would like to welcome Megg Jensen! She’s the author of Anathema and Oubliette. It’s really great to have you here Megg! Tell us a bit about yourself and your books.
Megg Jensen: Let’s see, I’m a mom, wife, and writer. I love swing dancing (not professional, just for fun) and rollerblading. I eat too much chocolate and hate artichokes. My novels take place in traditional medieval fantasy worlds because I’ve been obsessed with medieval history since I was a little girl. I even have my BA in medieval history. It’s a good thing I’m a writer because along with my minor in evolutionary anthropology, I pretty much have no useful job skills. I’ve worked in libraries, managed an independent bookstore (where I wore socks, not shoes, at work), and done various jobs in various museums.
Anathema is my first novel to be published and Oubliette is the second. I have many, many more to come.
TTS: I read in your FAQ that you chose to write under a pen name so that your author work wouldn’t get mixed in with your volunteer and journalism work. How did you come up with Megg Jensen? It sounds so normal. I honestly didn’t know it was a pen name at all!
Megg Jensen: Well, I originally wanted to go with the name Isobel Lee, because those two names are very special to me. Guess what? There’s already an author out there with that exact name. So, I went with my second choice, Megg, for two reasons. First, I wanted to name my daughter Megg, but the hubby said no. Second, Meg (A Wrinkle in Time, etc) is my favorite literary character. Jensen is my maiden name.
TTS: How did you get involved with DarkSide Publishing?
Megg Jensen: Karly Kirkpatrick and I have been friends for a few years. After she went indie, she convinced me to do the same. Since we loved working together on our writing, the next natural progression was to start up DarkSide. We also badgered our other good friend, GP Ching, into joining us in this crazy venture. That’s how DarkSide was born. Later we brought in Angela Carlie, who I’d known on Facebook for a while. DSP has been a gift in my life.
TTS: How different would it have been for you to publish this book on your own as Megg Jensen rather than under the DarkSide banner?
Megg Jensen: For me, writing alone is the ONLY way to write. But revision and publication needs a tribe. I would have been completely lost on my own. I would have figured it all out eventually, but I don’t know if I would have done as well without my DSP girls. We support each other in good times and bad times. There are days when we’ll shoot out hundreds of emails between the four of us. It’s awesome.
TTS: I promise I won’t ask you about book three even though I’m anxious for it, but let’s switch gears and talk about The Cloud Prophet Trilogy. Where did the idea come from?
Megg Jensen: On the drive to my parents’ farm, my daughter Tessa told me she could see things in the clouds. I asked her what shapes she saw. She sighed and said, “Mom, I’m not seeing shapes. I can see the future.” Obviously she has my imagination. She planted the seed in my mind and it grew from there.
TTS: Did the idea come to you as a whole story that you had to break up or was it just Anathema?
Megg Jensen: It only came to me as Anathema. But the moment I finished Anathema I knew exactly what would happen in Oubliette. While writing Oubliette, I knew exactly what would happen in the third book. The third is the final book. In my mind, no story ever ends, but I have many other books I want to put out so I will have to let the Cloud Prophet Trilogy go after the third book.
TTS: I’ve been dying to ask you about the characters and I probably should have while I was reading, but I wanted to wait until this interview. Let’s talk about names first. I know you have some pretty interesting stories regarding how some of the characters got their names.
Megg Jensen: Reychel was originally named Mina, after my son’s preschool principal. Not because she fit Reychel’s description, but because I loved the name so much. Then I read Bram Stoker’s Dracula and knew I had to change her name. I held a contest on my blog and Reychel was the big winner.
Nemison and Roctor are named after Everquest (an MMORPG) characters my husband and his friend played. The hubby is mad Roctor (his character) didn’t have a bigger part. LOL!
TTS: Some authors model characters after their family and people they know. Did you do that with any characters from your books?
Megg Jensen: Nope. I can’t do that. It would be too distracting for me. I may have a certain feeling towards someone, good or bad, that might play into my creative writing process, but I never use real life people as models for my characters.
TTS: There’s this huge kingdom in Anathema and Oubliette. Do you actually have that mapped out in your head? If so, will there ever be a map?
Megg Jensen: I can see Serenia very well in my head. There is a map I use, but three-year-olds draw better than me so it will never see the light of day. Maybe I can hire someone to make it pretty when the third book comes out.
TTS: Both books have a plot that’s about as huge as that map would probably be, were there ever moments where you were absolutely hung up on a plot element?
Megg Jensen: No, I am never hung up on plot elements. I have a very rich inner life and my mind is always cranking out possibilities and stories and ideas. It drives the people around me slightly nuts, I think, but it serves my writing very well. When I write and am working on a plot twist, I become very animated. I will talk to myself out loud, sing at the top of my lungs, and scribble randomly on pieces of scratch paper. I become very emotionally involved with my stories as they unfold (I don’t formally plot before my first draft) and can often be cranky, sad, or happy along with my characters. By diving in so deeply I’m able to give more to my writing. However, it does make me slightly difficult to be around when I am first drafting.
TTS: What do you want your readers to come away with after reading Anathema and Oubliette? Is there anything you would want to ask them?
Megg Jensen: These books are about Reychel’s quest to stay true to herself and to follow her heart, despite what everyone else is telling her. I think so often people become too caught up in what everyone else wants. Reychel is told what she is and what she should be, but she finds a way to do it on her own terms. I hope my readers can feel some of this inner strength as well.
I want to ask my readers if they enjoyed the read. As a former bookseller, I know a book has little to do with the author and everything to do with the experience. Reading is an escape; it’s a gift. I want people to enjoy themselves.
TTS: What can we look forward to from you? What are you working on currently?
Megg Jensen: Lots and lots and lots of books. I’ve been writing novels since 1997, but didn’t get serious about publication until 2008. I have many books in the works, a few completed, and a file bursting with ideas. I can’t wait to share them with everyone!
While I will seriously work on the third book in the Cloud Prophet Trilogy starting on July 5th, I am currently finishing up the first draft of a middle grade novel that turns fairytales on their ears! I can’t wait to publish it. I don’t know how big the middle grade ebook market is, but hopefully it will find an audience.
TTS: I thank you once again for joining us Megg! This has been a lot of fun. Anyone you want to give a shout out to? Anything that you would suggest us readers check out?
Thank you for having my Misty!!! You’re so cool, you rock my socks.
I want to give a shout out to my girls at DarkSide Publishing: Karly Kirkpatrick, GP Ching, and Angela Carlie. I’ve met so many amazing people during the last few years. I simply can’t mention everyone, but I will say that two of my favorite indie authors, who impressed me with their personalities as well as their books, are Michelle Muto and Megan Duncan. Everyone should definitely check out their books too!
Megg Jensen has been a freelance parenting journalist since 2003 and began writing YA novels in 2009. She co-runs DarkSide Publishing, is a member of SCBWI, and blogs about writing while juggling freelancing, volunteering, and family life. She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, two kids, and their miniature schnauzer, Ace.
Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/MeggJensenAuthor
Megg is holding the “Contest of All Awesomeness” over on her site! Check out her website at http://www.meggjensen.com for more details!
Synopsis: Reychel is a slave girl surrounded by magic, lies, and manipulation. Her best friend disappears in the middle of the night leaving Reychel to face her fifteenth birthday, the day her master burns his brand into the back of her bald head, alone. Sheltered from the outside world and without any hope for escape, can Reychel learn to believe in herself?
Synopsis: Reychel thought she was finally free. She was wrong.
Everyone saw her gift of prophecy as a blessing, but her gift is uncontrollable. No one alive can teach her to manipulate her unique gift and the answers she needs lie buried within a madman’s journals.
She’s thrust in the midst of a brewing war and the only uniting factor for her people is their belief in the Prophet. Will Reychel learn to control her gift or will she be forced to deliver a false prophecy that could lead her people into a violent war?