August 19, 2010

Swimom7's interview with Javamomma0921 about 'All That Jazz'

It’s 1919.  Meet Bella and Alice Swan.  Their father died when they were very young and their mother was a recent victim of the Spanish influenza in Philadelphia.  Although it is questionable who was truly the victim: Renee Swan or her youngest daughter, Bella.  Raised to believe that she could only hope to be her husband’s servant, Bella is unprepared for the new ideas that the Jazz age is bringing with it.  What will happen when Bella and Alice leave everything they know in Philadelphia to live with their Aunt Esme, the mother’s “brazen” older sister?  Who will they meet? How will their lives and ideals change?   
This is the summary of All That Jazz on and by Javamomma0921, an amazing period piece set in the 1920s Age of Jazz.  The country is about to enter into the Great Depression, the Flappers are in prolific supply as women begin their amazing emancipation from the Victorian Era.   
Enter one Bella Swan.  Sister to Alice Swan, orphans of the Spanish Influenza and a domineering mother who refused to move forward with the times.  While the exuberant Alice finds herself eager to embrace her new life with her Aunt Esme, Bella, the more reticent, more reluctant sister is confused and dismayed at her new life.  How is she to act?  React?  Her dead mother would surely not approve.
Enter Edward Anthony Masen, son of Esme and Carlisle’s good friends the Masens.  As a future lawyer, he is hired to teach the girls their lessons, but when Bella literally stumbles into his life one day as he is expressing himself on the piano with the new Jazz music, he is smitten, and Bella is spellbound.   
In a time where the touch of a fingertip on a wrist was all that it took to start the blood boiling; where a look or a pressing of thigh against thigh was stolen in the back of the new-fangled automobiles, Edward and Bella learn to control their desires, and explore their love.   
All That Jazz by Javamomma0921, who’s real name is Jen, brings you back to the Golden Age where stolen kisses were taboo and courting was the norm.  Javamomma0921 builds the anticipation better than anyone I’ve ever read and makes hand-holding as hot as some of the most graphic lemons on Fanfiction.   
Oh, and lemons?  Well, there will be those too.   

What was it that gave you the 'spark' for your story?  Was it a picture? A moment or event? Can you remember the initial inspiration?
Jen: There was a contest called The Very Sexy Un-Birthday Challenge. I knew I wanted to do a period piece and I went looking for flapper images. I found one that looked, to me, like Bella: she was sitting on the edge of a counter twirling her pearls and looking directly at the camera. The one shot that this story is based from sort of spun itself from that picture. Later, the back story started picking at my brain: why was Bella so hesitant early in her marriage? What hurdles did she jump to get to where she was during the one shot? That sort of thing.
Kit: So why this particular time period?  What fascinates you about the 1920s in particular?
Jen: The 20s were full of turmoil: there's prohibition, the suffrage movement, and of course, Jazz. Setting the story within that time period, when so many things affect the characters in so many different ways, really lends a unique drama to the piece. The characters begin to react to those stimuli all on their own. It's really interesting. Also, the Jazz Age is super sexy to begin with. ;)
Kit: Super sexy because of the turmoil?  Because of the...maybe...'dangerous' quality? Women were finding freedom of expression, that sort of thing?
I found a picture of a girl...I'm gonna send it to you.
Jen: That's her! That's the picture I was talking about!
Kit:  So that's your Bella?  But now - reading the story...I think more of Alice when I see this particular picture... I mean with regards to ATJ...what do you think?
Jen:  That's Bella after her transformation, from the one shot. You know, when she cuts her hair and lets loose with Edward.  That's what gave me my original inspiration at least.
Kit: What do you use as your resources and how do you 'validate' the stuff you find?  
Jen: You mean in terms of researching for period things?
Kit:  In other words, how do you know what you want to use and how do you sift through it all?  Because I know you do TONS of research.
Jen: Well, the internet is a wonderful place for an historical writer, but it also really confusing. There are a lot of historical guilds out there based in different cities. Their websites are invaluable because you know, they are run by historians who care about their research. Also, looking up very specific search terms is important. I try to narrow down my searches as much as I can. Also, this is going to sound funny, but I watch the History Channel a lot. Some of the programs they have on there are very helpful in learning more about different time periods.
Kit: No, I think that sounds perfect...the History Channel has some fascinating things on it, and plus you can see 'real footage.’
Jen: Exactly. You Tube is really helpful too!
Kit: Really? You Tube?
Jen: Yep. Hold on. I'll link you.

Kit: Oh, you mean for footage of stuff.  Wow, I'd never thought of that.  That's awesome!
Do you have a particular process when it comes to your writing, perhaps a certain mood, environment or music?  Do you have any 'triggers' to get you in the writing mood?
Jen: I usually like it quiet when I write. I hesitate to listen to music because I tend to be very influenced when I write, so my characters might react to the music I listen to, instead of the things going on in the story. If that makes any sense... I also really like to write with friends in WCs and stuff. I find that deadlines are incredibly helpful for me, even the hour long deadlines of a WC. It makes me far more productive.
Kit: I have to agree with you there.  Things must be quiet in the room because they aren't so quiet in the head! lol.
Jen: brb. poopy diaper. LOL
Kit: PERFECT SEGUE into the next 'unofficial' question:  When do you find the time?  You are a mom of two young children.  Are you a 'scheduled' writer or a 'whenever you have 30 minutes' kind of writer?  I understand the WC thing - totally - but that isn't always available; what and how do you schedule your day?
Jen: I "try" to schedule time. I rarely get the time I need. I carry a notebook with me everywhere I go so I can jot down ideas that come to me. And, when I get forty-five minutes of quiet, I take it and I write. My husband is incredibly helpful with that. When he comes home, after we eat dinner as a family, he takes the kids for an hour and gives me time to myself to write. He knows it's important to me and does it without fail. I'm really grateful for that. Also, I stay up late to have some time by myself without someone wanting "mommy." LOL
Kit: No, I think that is perfect.  As moms, we rarely get time to ourselves and the kids don't understand it when we say we are 'working.'
Jen: Exactly!
Kit: So how do your kids react when mommy is 'working'?
Jen: My daughter has started "writing" too. She gets out paper and pens and "writes stories." I think this is FANTASTIC! I try to encourage her as much as possible. And frankly, her imagination astounds me. My son is only a year and a half, so he doesn’t get it as much, but he is pretty laid back. He'll sit on the couch with me and as long as he can get an arm around my arm as I type, he's happy to snuggle. :)
Kit: I love it - even as I sit typing this with you, Dora the Explorer is on as 'the baby' lolls around on my bed - LOL!  I think this subject is fascinating - the whole 'mom as writer' thing...I could go on and on.
Give us an elevator pitch.  Say you're in an elevator with a prospective reader for 2 minutes - what would you tell them about the story?
Jen: Ha ha!  Ok, here goes:
Kit: lay it on me baby!
Jen: Sorry. This is hard! Can I just steal my Twilighted Summary? Because I actually think that sums up the story perfectly.
Kit: hmmm...  
But you wouldn't be able to say that in an elevator - tell me from your heart... *evil grin*
Jen: True. give me a sec... My brain is so addled right now.
Kit Robertson: (devil grin)
Jen: (big grin)
Kit: lol!
Jen: Does it ever amaze you how different two siblings can grow up? The story I'm writing right now tells about two sisters of a different era, one chained to her past and one bursting free of those imposed barriers. --->
Kit: ooh - that's good! More please?
Kit: (pretending I'm the prospective reader) - what happens?
Jen: The twenties are a fascinating time for women and these two characters will really tug at your heart strings in two very different ways. From social restrictions to family drama, this story will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Kit: Awesome - where can I buy it? lol!
Jen: LMAO!! It's cheap!
Kit: Darling, never cheap, available. :)
Do you picture particular actors for your characters, or are they someone else entirely?  If so, who?
Well, Robert Pattinson is my Edward. Always. Bella changes for me. There are several vintage pictures in which I see ATJ Bella. The same goes with the rest of the characters. When I go on image searches, I find amazing pictures of different 20s women and men that seem to fit right into the story. I use these as I write them and the personalities of these people from long ago creep into the characters.
Kit:  Yeah, I can see that.  Rob is so 'set' as Edward, in most fics, I'd venture to say, but Bella changes.  I wonder why that is?
Jen: Well, for me, it's because though I love Kristen as Bella in the actual movies, for me I don't know that I see her in period stuff. Possibly because she hasn't done a period movie? I don't know. It's strange.
Kit: Maybe so...I've also wondered if it is because Bella's personality changes from fic to fic so much.  I would say that Edward's is more likely to be canon, or CLOSE to canon or a variation, so it is easier to picture him - hmm...
Jen: Maybe. Or maybe because Rob is just so yummy to picture. ;)
Kit: Well, there is THAT! lol! haha!
Is the story all planned out or do you do it as a fly by the seat of your pants thing?
Jen: I have an outline...which I constantly change. My characters tend to do what they feel like regardless of what I want them to do. And, in general, they know what the hell they’re doing so I let them! ha ha! But, I have a general scope for the story, about how long I want it to be and what things I know I want to cover.  
Kit: Yes, I would agree.  They tend to be very opinionated about stuff...
Jen: Edward most of all, but that's another story...
Kit: But isn't that what we like most about him? Rowr...
Jen: (mm) yep.

Do you have a Beta and would you like to give him/her a shoutout here?
Jen: Yes! Belle Dean is my beta. She is AMAZING! Seriously, she keeps me on track, makes sure I don't have Edward "take off his head" in greeting to Esme (*facepalm*), and just generally polishes this story so much. I couldn't write this story without her. I also have various pre-readers who help out with time line issues and plot points. Their input is just as important.
(Kit: As a matter of disclosure, I sometimes pre-read these chapters, but I don’t Beta)
Kit: So you are in favor of Beta's in general?
Jen: I couldn't write without one. Listen, I have a Master's degree in English. I should know my grammar and spelling, right? I have two betas and a pre-reader or two. They are INVALUABLE. Everyone needs someone to look over their shoulder. You just can not catch all of your own mistakes. It isn't possible.
Kit: Awesome... great answer!
Jen: *cannot *headdesk* See?
Elizabeth Masen
Have you got any other projects going on?  Any planned for the future?  
Jen: Umm... Well, I have several FGB obligations that I am currently working on. I have just completed an Avalon crossover titled "Capturing Destiny" for annsteph. Also, I am working on a detective story for Hmonster4 titled "From the McCarty Files: The Poisoned Cup" that features Emmett as a PI. I'm about to release a one shot featuring Lancelot-ward (a retelling of a little known Arthurian legend) for FGB. And, I'm planning to enter the Age of Edward contest. Other than that, no, I don't have anything else.
Kit: busy busy busy... how do you keep everyone separate and quiet in your head?  
Jen: It's very loud in there, honestly. I've found that I do well when I write a detailed summary of a chapter. Then, when it is time to write, I can write quickly and efficiently. It  
helps compartmentalize everything for me.
Kit: Do you Beta for anyone?
Jen: Yes, I currently beta for five people.
Jen: Yep. That's why I get behind!
Mrs. Hale
Kit: Again, I refer back to the above question about finding the time...
Jen: This is important to me. I find that writing makes me a better mom.  And I make time to do it.
Kit: I like the idea about compartmentalizing everything.  We as moms have to do that all the time.  Why do you think it makes you a better mom?
Jen: Well, a lot of people will tell you that their characters are their alter egos, right? I think that is very true. The story ideas I get are like my own little fantasies that I get to live out as I write them. I don't have to go out every single weekend or have hours upon hours to myself, because I have my little escapes when I write my stories.
Kit: Awesome - love that.  It's like the things you want to say or do, but can't for obvious reasons...but then, you sort of CAN.
Jen: Right. I also find that I appreciate the life I have because of some of the crap my characters go through. LOL
Kit: Yes!
What brought you to Twilight fanfic? What is it that has kept you here besides your own writing?
Jen: Well, I read the four books in under a week. I started writing after reading it the second time, just for fun. I never knew there was a place to POST what I was writing. So, a friend linked me to Midnight Sun on SM's website. While browsing there, I found the link for Fan Fiction. I thought I died and went to heaven. I started posting my first FF a day after finding the site and am completely addicted. What keeps me here? The people I've met. My Twilight friends are amazing.
Kit: What was your first story?
Jen: The Time is at Hand. It's a retelling of Breaking Dawn from EPOV starting at the time that Bella goes into labor, and it is complete. :)
Kit: And it is awesome - I've read it of course. :)
Jen: Yes, it's how we met. ;)
I think you've sort of answered this, but still...  

Do you have a background in writing?
Jen: Yes. I went to school for English and hold a Master's in English Language and Literature. I tired to get a job writing after college, but those are difficult to come by. I decided that teaching preschool would keep me closer to my kids and be better for me at the time. Now is my time to try and use those degrees. :)
Kit: And use them you do! (see the comment about Beta'ing for 5 people!)
Jen: LOL
Kit: What was your concentration?
Jen: In undergrad it was a general English Lit degree. I focused on Medieval Literature in Grad school and wrote my dissertation (sp?) on pagan influences on the Arthurian Legends.
Kit: WOW!  So some of your other stories focus on this too, right?  You are all over the timeline.
Jen: Yeah. Writing the medieval stuff is SUCH a joy, and the fact that people seemed to like it? I was in heaven.
How about your creative self-confidence?  By nature writers tend to be a notoriously insecure lot, so how are you finding the online writing experience?
Jen: I think it is a wonderful community, but I tend not to put a whole lot of stock in glowing reviews. Not that I don't appreciate every single one, but I'm not naive enough to think that just because a few people like my fan fiction, I'll be able to publish something immediately. It's a completely different arena and I'm looking forward to entering it. I just know that I likely won't be getting lovely, glowing reviews like I do here when I first start out.
Kit: So that is a goal for you?  Publishing your own original story?
Jen: Absolutely. I have a few ideas and writing FF has definitely given me excellent practice for doing that. I have a much better idea of how to tell a story and how to develop a plot than I ever did before.
Kit: I think it is a great forum, either for people who want to use it as practice and get help on their skills or refining them OR just for people who find it a great outlet.
Jen: Exactly. The only time I think it is dangerous is when people assume that good reviews here = immediate success in publishing.  It's a totally different animal, if you know what I mean.
Kit: Probably.  I've found though that the cream usually rises to the top. :)
Do you tell your friends and family that you're an online author with a devoted following, or is this something that you tend to keep to yourself?
Jen: My mom reads my fan fiction. Which is a little weird, I guess, but she seems to enjoy it. My husband won't read it, but knows that I do it and is very supportive of it. The only time I let it leak that I wrote this to my RL friends and family was when I did FGB. I posted a link on my Facebook page and told people that if they liked twilight, they should check it out. I didn't post links to my auctions though. ha ha!
Kit: Your mom reads it??  How do you get around the...err...lemons (as an aside, you write lovely lemons!)?
Jen: Well, she's a grown woman who has been having real life lemons longer than I have, so she's entitled to read them, I guess. Ha! Seriously, though, it isn't as though we discuss the finer points of them. She'll just call and say, oh that was a lovely chapter and stuff like that.
Kit: NIce!  What (if any) was the reaction to your FB page 'coming out'?  Did people find you?
Jen: It wasn't entirely positive. A few of my cousins said that it wasn't "real writing." To which I challenged them to write something. Anything. And post it on a public forum for critique. I'm not embarrassed about writing FF nor do I think it is somehow "less real" than writing my own stories. It is simply another outlet for creativity.
Kit: I agree - my whole problem stems from people I know reading my lemons - gah!  The rest I'm okay
Jen: Whatever. It doesn't really bother me that much. Which...I guess says a little about me. LOL
Kit: Hee Hee!
Is there a particular character in ATJ that you identify with the most?
Jen: Esme. I adore that character and would like to be that kind of woman in my everyday life.
Kit: I would agree, she's strong, focused, smart and a good person to boot.  She doesn't suffer crap.  Love that.
Jen: Yeah, and she's very "balls out" in her interactions. That, actually, is a lot like me. LOL!
Kit: Woot Woot!
Which Real Life Author(s) inspires you?
Jen: Hmm. Maya Angelou. Her words of inspiration for women humble me and have taught me to be a better mother, woman, writer, etc. Steven King's writing blows me away every time I read something of his. Classics, like Mark Twain, Flannery O'Connor, Harper Lee... I could go on and on. I also fell in love with Sara Gruen (the author of Water for Elephants) and have been reading a lot of her work. She tells an amazing story and writes complex, beautifully flawed characters.
Did any FF authors inspire you? What was it that had you reading FF and thinking, "I could do this!"?
Jen: This is a bit harder for me. I wrote before I read really, but of course I've read a lot in the time since I started. I don't know that I've read as many of the "big name" authors as others, simply because I joined the fandom after their stories were big. I've, of course, read Wide Awake and I was totally humbled by the writing. I had been posting The Time is at Hand for about two weeks and almost pulled it after reading AG's work. I didn't think anything I could do deserved to be in the same forum as her work! But, I've grown a lot as a writer since that first FF and found that there is a spot for every type of writer in this forum. :)
Kit: I would agree.  I'm reading back over your answer above, about the RL authors and I'm noticing a trend towards some big name southern authors.  Is that just by coincidence that you mentioned them or is there something about southern authors that intrigue you?
Jen: I enjoy authors that write you into their world. Harper Lee, Mark Twain, etc. They write such real worlds with such amazing's hard not to be pulled into the story.
Kit: Coolie.  We could say the same about the FF authors.   
What advice would you give to an aspiring fanfic writer?
Jen: DON'T do what I did and try to post two stories at once along with promising four short stories to people; you will go insane!
Kit:  LOL!  So you would advise keeping your situation realistic with regards to your writing schedule?
Jen: Yes, I would. Ha!  
Kit: Hee Hee!
Jen: But, in all seriousness, get a good beta. Get good pre-readers. Write your story YOUR way; don’t allow reviewers to sway you from the story you are trying to tell.
Kit: Yes - I want to point out that you said that.  Don't let one review change your viewpoint about yourself, your characters or your story.
Jen: Exactly. You can get upset about it and pout to your friends, but don't allow it to change your story.

Give us a random fact about yourself
Jen: Umm. I played violin all through grade school and got a scholarship to go to both high school and college because of it. don't play. Ha!
Kit: Did you have a 'violin hickey' on your neck? Is that too personal? LOL!
Jen: OMG! I did! And the nuns at school ALWAYS gave me a hard time about it!
Jen: It was so embarrassing!
If you could have 15 minutes with any Edward - FF or SM's - which one would you choose and what would you do? If you do not LIKE any of the Edwards, feel free to substitute an actor here.  Rob, Kellen, PFach or Jackson.
Jen: Hmm. I'd love to talk with Rob. He seems like a fascinating person and really personable, you know? I would likely be too tongue tied to actually hold a conversation with him, my head, it would be fun to chat with him about music and acting etc.
Oh, and that doesn't mean I don't like any Edwards. I just can't choose.
Kit: I was thinking about this question and he is my answer too - except that I'd like to make him dinner.  Just to hang...
Jen: True. That would be fun!
What is your FanFic Pet Peeve?
Jen: Just one? LOL
Kit: LOL!
Jen: Probably people who withhold chapters because of review count. Seriously, get over yourself. If what you’re writing isn't making people review, that's on you. Not your readers. Change something! MAKE them hit that button. It isn't a given that when you write something, people will review. You have to make them want to do it. That's your job as a writer.
Kit: You go girl!
What is your Fandom Pet Peeve?
Jen: My Fandom pet peeve? That would be Robsten. I cannot for the life of me understand how grown women can have such an obsession over whether these two kids are dating. Seriously, their relationship has no bearing on anything. If they are together and happy, great. If they aren't together and happy, great. If they're unhappy, well, that's a shame, but it's none of my business to tell them what would make them happy. And I hate that you can't come out and say, "I don't care" without someone questioning your loyalty to "the fandom." It's ridiculous.
Kit: Go! *arm pump*
Jen: I'm pretty charged up about this right now...
Kit: Yeah - in light of the recent pictures...
So - we've had an AWESOME interview!
Jen: Thanks! :)  I had fun!
Anything else you'd like to add?
Kit: Contests you're doing? New stuff you're writing?
Jen: Umm, well, I'll be entering Age of Edward and the All Hallow's Eve contest (that's anonymous). Other than that, I'm just trying to get FGB finished!
Kit: It will all be awesome, I'm sure.  So ATJ updates, what, about once every two weeks or so?'
Jen: I try very hard to do every two weeks. It's sometimes a day or two late. ;)  But they are epic-long chatpers, or so I'm told.
Kit: You know, authors are moms and dads - people with kids and jobs and real life stuff.  We all do the best we can.
Jen: Exactly. And some of us have WAY too much on our plates. LOL
Kit: Well, yeah, there is that (see above comment - Beta'ing for 5 people - cough cough).
Jen: Ha!


1 comment:

Debbie in S. Florida said...

Wow, I can't believe there are no comments! Okay, I guess I'll be the first. I've been a fan of Jen's for quite a while now. She was one of the first writers whose work I read when I discovered the crazy world of fan fic, and I've been hooked ever since. She has a way of drawing her readers into her stories, and makes us care about her characters. Yes, they are familiar, given their Twi-names and some of their characteristics, but Jen always manages to give them their own twists, and there hasn't been one story of hers that I haven't loved. I always look forward to seeing her updates in my inbox! I feel like I've gotten to know her a little in all this time, between her replies to my reviews and our PM's back and forth, and while I have an idea of the kind of person she is, I thoroughly enjoyed this interview. It gave me more insight into her real life and makes me even more amazed at everything she does. I know she writes what seems like a million stories at once and every one is fabulous, but that she does it while being a wife and a mom AND beta-ing all of those stories? Incredible! I wanna be her when I grow up! Seriously, she's just a really great writer and I'll read anything she writes, whether it be "cheap" (I mean, available), or in printed form. Yes, Jen, I'm probably one of those readers you mentioned who always give glowing reviews, but hopefully you know by now that I mean every single word. I truly am in awe of your talent.

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