Back in June, I picked up a copy of Debut Author Jennifer Rush’s novel, ALTERED, while I was at Book Expo America. Without knowing anything about the book or Jennifer herself, I began reading. I wasn’t too far into the story when I realized with absolutely excitement that I’d discovered the next big thing. Our five star review of ALTERED appeared on the blog in July, and Jennifer’s giveaway of an Advanced Reading Copy of the book which appeared in the same month absolutely exploded.
Jennifer is our featured Author for our Book of the Month for January, and we’re stoked to have her here.
Altered is your debut novel. Before you were officially a writer, what was your day job?
This answer is going to be dreadfully boring. I was a bank teller for a little over four years at a local community bank. It was a good job to have for the area I live in and my co-workers were AWESOME. But counting other people’s money? No thanks!
Altered is a very well thought out and detailed plot. What were you doing when you thought it up?
I get this question a lot and I wish I had a good answer for it. I honestly don’t remember writing much of the first half of Altered. It came out of nowhere, and consumed me for several weeks. I think it perhaps came from an old idea I’d had, where a girl found a vampire locked in a high-tech cell in her basement, and later found out he was part of a government experiment. We all know how flooded the vampire market is, so I have to wonder if I filed that idea in the back of my mind and it some how morphed into Altered later on.
What I do know is that, in its earliest draft, Altered was a story about a boy and a girl who loved each other so much, they’d do anything for each other. A lot of the twisted plot elements came in later drafts!
How long did it take you to write Altered?
Six or seven weeks.
Do you have any quirks or habits to help you through the writing process?
I need a clean space to write. I like my desk to be free of clutter, though anyone who’s seen my office walls would beg to differ. 😀 I like lots of pictures and things and inspirational quotes on the walls that surround me, but my desk must be clean. I generally like something yummy to drink while working too!
Sam is Anna’s love interest and he also takes on the role of the group’s leader. Does this mean he’s your favorite of the boys? (If not, who is)
This is a hard question! I love all the boys, but I DO have a favorite. I love Sam. I ADORE SAM. But he’s not my top pick. Nick is. I generally go for the bad boys in YA fiction, and Nick fits that description well. But he has such a complicated, messy past, and I loved exploring how that made him today. Even with his memories wiped, he’s still messed up. It’s interesting to me how much of who we are, will always be a part of us, no matter what happens.
Sometimes, writers say their characters just write themselves. If you could change one thing that Sam did in Altered, what would it be and why?
Ummm…take his shirt off more? Kidding! Kidding! Sort of.
I don’t want to spoil too much for those who haven’t read, but there is a pivotal scene between Sam and Anna where her heart breaks at something he says to her. So I wish he would have asked for her help. For those who have read, I think you’ll know what I mean by that. Then again, if he HAD asked for her help, Altered would be a much different story.
If you could date any of the four boys, which would it be, and why?
Oh Lord, another hard one! Let’s see…I think Nick would be fun, and intense. But it would also be messy. And there would probably be a lot of crying involved. Now, if we’re talking true, forever love, someone I’d want to marry, it’d be Trev. He’s loyal, he’s thoughtful, and caring, and he reads people really well. That’s the kind of husband I’d want (actually, it’s the kind of husband I DO have, though he’s not always thoughtful when it comes to sharing the TV remote, or giving me the last fudgecicle).
I noticed on your blog you seem to be ‘casting’ your characters. It looks like you chose Henry Cavill as Sam (and I concur!). Who could you see playing Anna?
I’ve had a terrible time finding someone who represents Anna well. I think Brittany Robertson looks like Anna sometimes, depending on how her hair and make-up is done. But even then, she’s not a perfect match. I picture Anna a bit softer in the face, and a tiny bit taller. Also Brittany is maybe a tad bit skinnier than Anna.
How did you choose your character’s names?
Baby name websites! There wasn’t much rhyme or reason to what I picked, though once I found the names, I knew they fit.
Your blog professes your love of pens. What other quirky obsessions do you have?
I love houseplants. I have such good luck with leafy, regular houseplants, but succulents, which are supposed to be the easiest to care for? I kill them. EVERY SINGLE TIME.
I’m also a sucker for any other kind of office supply. Sticky notes. Folders. Paperclips.
What’s your fave book? (If you have one …)
Oh yes, I have many. I’ll name my top three. I fell in love with Vivian Vande Velde’s Companions of the Night as a teenager, and though I rarely re-read books, I try to re-read that one every couple of years. I also love, love, love Sarah Dessen’s The Truth About Forever. Talk about an amazingly genuine, super hot love interest. If you haven’t read it, you should! And lastly, Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone. Amazing detail and world building. A fantastic cast of characters. And one dark, sexy love interest (or maybe villain? you have to read to find out!).
As a new writer, what advice would you give to people out there that are trying to catch a break?
It will feel like you’ll never break into the market. Like you’ll never sign with an agent. Or you’ll never get a book deal. I was in that same position in 2009, early 2010. I have been there, and let me tell you that it WILL happen if you keep trying. Don’t give up. Don’t write something just because you think it will sell. Write what keeps you up at night. Write what makes you daydream at your desk, when you should be doing day job things like answering phones and filing papers. Write what feels like your own private love affair. That’s the book that will get you an agent, or a book deal. Just like in real life, if you find yourself wondering if you’ve found your soul mate, you probably haven’t. You won’t need to wonder once you’ve found him or her, you’ll know it when you feel it.