If Jennifer, the author of new dystopian Thriller novel, Edge Of Sundown, were to make a deal with the Devil, she’d ask to live—in good health—just until she’s finished reading all the books. She figures that’s pretty square.
In case other bibliophiles attempt the same scheme, she’s working hard to get all her ideas on paper. She writes multi-genre fiction and the occasional essay, and is currently working on a collection of shorts and two picture books that may or may not be suitable for children.
Edge of Sundown is her first novel. She’s always been drawn to “what-ifs” and flawed characters, and has never quite mastered the happy ending.
Jennifer is a member of Chicago Writers Association and Independent Writers of Chicago, and works at a private university library.
Please tell my readers a little about yourself?
Hello there! I live in Chicago, IL, USA, where the pizza is misrepresented. (Get the thin crust.) I’m the type who will greet a dog before noticing there’s a person attached to it and I never go anywhere without pens and paper.
What inspired you to become a writer/author?
I always loved making up stories. I didn’t fit in with other kids so I wrote adventures when I wasn’t reading them. When a teacher told me I could actually be an author, publish books just like the ones I held in my hands, it was an epiphany. That was such an unattainable, grown-up sounding thing. I guess that means I’m a grown-up now. But I will deny it until the day I die.
What is the best thing about being a writer/author?
Humans often leave me scratching my head. So working out the complexities of imperfect characters is like trying to figure out the puzzle of people. Also, I’m inarticulate in real life and tend to bottle things up. Writing allows me to express myself without revealing which characters’ emotions and desires mirror my own.
What is your writing routine like?
I make tea or coffee, putz around on social media for much too long, then finally get down to business late in the afternoon, once I wonder where the time went. Occasionally I remember to eat.
How much time is spent on research?
A lot. I worry about getting things wrong. I tend to research as I go so I don’t end up gathering a bunch of details I don’t need. But it depends on the project.
How much of the book is planned out before you start writing it?
I wrote a sloppy synopsis before Edge of Sundown, and made notes to myself throughout. It was less planned than kept track of. The next one will be organized much better, because it jumps back and forth through time and memory. Having a lousy memory myself, I can see that going terribly wrong.
What do you think is most important when writing a book? Characters, plot, setting, etc.
Characters. A lot of literary novels don’t have much plot at all; the characters create story out of their own speculations, actions, and relationships. Slices of life can make for some of the best tales. But I love when writers can give a setting magnitude.
What is your latest book about?
Sundown is about a novelist past his prime, desperate to write one last bestseller before it’s too late. But as he digs deeper into his research, he finds his story is true, and the villains will do anything to make sure it never gets told.
What inspired it?
Quite a few things. The idea of chasing something that’s already gone has always been a chilling one. Although it’s not intended as a satire, the feeling that empathy and respect for human life seems to be disappearing gave me a “what-if” I needed to explore.
Why did you pick the genre or genres that you write in?
I go with what seems to fit the story best. And I have yet to nail a non-cheesy happy ending.
How did you go about getting a publishing deal?
I tried the agent route first, but didn’t get any requests for fulls. Then I looked into some independent publishers and was impressed by what I saw. For years, when someone asked what genre I wrote in, I’d say, “Is dark fiction a thing?” I was delighted to find that it not only is, there’s a niche publisher specializing in it, and now I have a home with them.
Any new books or plans for the future?
There’s a second novel in the works, though at the moment it’s a mess of imagery and ideas. I’m culling pieces for a collection of short stories and essays, and writing two picture books (one for adults and one for kids). I also need to write two new short stories before the end of the year, lest I lose a bet.
What authors have been an influence on your writing?
So many. I mine every book for techniques and information I can use down the line. And I just sit in awe of lyricists like Marilynne Robinson, Taiye Selasi, Howard L. Anderson, Jeanette Winterson, Ron Hansen, and Tana French.
What writing advice would you have given yourself when you started?
Believe in yourself more.
What writing advice would you give to an aspiring writer or a new author to the block?
The same. And experiment. Even if it’s crap, it’s an education. And don’t let anyone give you arbitrary advice like “you’re not a real writer unless you write 100 words a day at the exact same time” or such bullshit.
What has been your favourite book so far this year?
I’m cheating, because there are so many great books. A favorite published in 2020 is Meghan Holloway’s Hunting Ground, and a favorite read this year but published prior to 2020 is Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi.
What is your all-time favourite book and why?
Just one? I thought we were pals!
What genre do you read most often?
I like to read everything I can get my hands on and keep up with what my friends are publishing, so it’s almost even across the board.
What are you currently reading?
A biography of the late Scott Walker by Lewis Williams called The Rhymes of Goodbye, and Watership Down by Richard Adams.
Anything else you would like to add?
Eat more pie.
Thanks so much for your time, Jennifer, and best of luck with the book!
You can purchase Edge Of Sundown on Amazon now, ahead of the full release on the 12th November.
When dystopian fiction becomes real…
Val Haverford’s Sci-Fi and Western novels made him a household name. But that was then. A decade of creative stagnation and fading health has left him in the literary wilderness.
Attempting to end his dry spell and secure his legacy, Val pens a dystopian conspiracy theory set in a tangential universe where alien invaders eliminate ‘undesirables’ perceived as drains on society.
But as he digs deeper into violence plaguing his adopted home of Chicago, he discovers unsettling similarities between his work in progress and a life he thought he left behind. Soon he finds his fictional extremists are not only real—they’re intent on making sure his book never sees the light of day.
As he pieces together haunting truths about his city and his motives, Val realizes his last chance to revive his career and reconcile the past could get him—and the people he loves—killed.
Will he make the right choice? Or will it be too late?
Edge of Sundown is a provocative story that shows how the desperation of lost opportunity can lead to drastic and unexpected consequences.
Social media links for Jennifer:
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Jennifer-Worrell/e/B0773RG6RK
If you enjoyed this, then you might also enjoy my interview with Austrian Spencer, author of The Sadeiest.