Author Interview: Britney Jensen

Today I am SO excited to feature an interview with the amazing, beautiful, indie-author, Britney Jensen. I interviewed Britney right around the release of her first book, RISEN last year (click here to read it!) Now, her second book, RETURN was just released last month.

The Author
In connection with this, Britney has graciously agreed to give a copy of RETURN (and if you don't have it already, RISEN as well) to one lucky winner on this blog! The rules for the giveaway will be posted tomorrow, so come back and check it out for your chance to win one (or two!) incredible books!

If you're not into giveaways and just want to READ IT, then GO HERE to order your copies! (Available in print, Kindle, and Nook formats.)

And now, here's Britney!

DC: First off, congrats on the release of RETURN! Having been through the self-pub process once already, how was it different this second time around?
BJ: This time we knew what to expect and what we didn't want to do ourselves. For RISEN, we didn't know how to create a working table of contents on the Kindle version. This time around, we found a guy and hired him to create one for us. I think little touches like that make a big difference. I also had RETURN edited by someone other than myself or my family before I put it out there. I have to say, my editor did a really good job.  =) 

Book One: Risen
DC: Well, I'm glad you have such faith in your editor ;-) So, in RISEN you write from two POV's. In RETURN you now have three. Was it easier to write from one perspective versus another? Were the ones from RISEN easier or harder than the new voice(s)?
BJ: Yes, now there are three POV's in RETURN. I've always heard their individual voices in my head. (Does that mean I need meds?) Even in RISEN, I knew what Finn was thinking, so it was only natural for him to have his own POV in RETURN. I think it adds a new element. We know what Sunny thinks of Finn and how she feels about him. Now it's Finn's turn to tell his side. I think I pattern their voices after people I know, so it isn't too difficult to mimic that in my writing.  

DC: I remember you tweeting that you were so excited to have figured out the "perfect ending" for RETURN. Without giving away too much, what was it about that idea that made it perfect for this book?
BJ: During the months of writing RETURN, always nagging in the back of my mind was the fact that I had no clue where I wanted to end it. It kept me up at nights. Then one stormy afternoon it honestly felt like I was handed the perfect ending. It just appeared in my mind. (I see my writing in pictures, like a movie). It seems perfect to me because there is so much build-up of intensity and conflict that I couldn't just tie everything up with a neat little bow. It leaves a lot of possibility for Book #3 which I think lends a little bit of fun and mystery and, hopefully, a lot of anticipation for what will happen next.   

DC: Sunny's character is much more assertive in RETURN.  Was that a conscious choice by you, or did Sunny lead you in that direction? 
BJ: Absolutely it was a conscious choice! I didn't want Sunny to seem like a damsel in distress that needed saving. I wanted her to be able to make her own moves and stand on her own two feet. I always envisioned her that way, but the first book didn't allow me to explore that side of her very much. RETURN really lets me showcase Sunny's strengths. I think girls need to read about assertive women rather than women who will sit on the sidelines and let all the action be determined by everyone else.   

Book Two: Return
DC: Similarly, do you feel that your characters take the story by the reins? How much "control," so to speak, do you feel you have, as the author, over their actions and the story?
BJ: This is an interesting question. I don't know how much control I have over the story, which probably means I don't have any at all. Sometimes I'll write something and later think, "They would have never done that," and have to go back and change it. My characters demand that I be true to them. They each have their own personalities and baggage which determines what they'll do in any given situation. I have to make sure I'm present with that all the time otherwise the story wouldn't work.

DC: The settings in RETURN vary more than in RISEN. Have you been to any of the places you write about? And what made you choose those places?
BJ: Yes, I've been to all of the places in my books. I chose Montana for RISEN because, to be frank, I love it. My favorite city in Montana is Whitefish. It's absolutely serene and beautiful, and I envisioned Reverence in the surrounding mountains. I need a vacation home there desperately. Then a portion of RETURN takes place in Salt Lake City which is where I grew up. I don't live there anymore and I miss it. So, at least I get to visit when I write.

DC: Since you're writing a series, you've obviously had some things outlined or planned from the beginning. Other than main plot points, are you an outliner, or a pantser ("by-the-seat-of-your-pants" writer)?
BJ: I'm a "pantser" all the way. It's torture for me to write anything down, ever. I can't keep lists or schedules. Of course I get some ideas, but to flesh everything out before I wrote it would be to steal the joy that is creativity in the moment. It's more frustrating and time-consuming my way, for sure. But it's the way I work best. 

The Set!
DC: I know you listen to music while you write, what are some songs or artists that helped you get through RETURN?
BJ: Oh my, I love this question. Metric and The Yeah Yeah Yeah's were invaluable to me while writing. Metric's Help I'm Alive, Stadium Love, Combat Baby, and Gimme Sympathy were some favorites. And by The Yeah Yeah Yeah's, I loved Heads Will Roll, Runaway, Down Boy, and Maps. And I know it's sort of old, but if I ever needed to get in the mood to write MakeDamnSure by Taking Back Sunday always did it for me. 

DC: Since you're having a baby soon (yaaayyyy!) you'll probably want to take a break, or at least take your time with book 3. When do you anticipate it being released?
BJ: YAY for both of us girl! I have been taking a little break because of the fatigue and nausea. I really want to start writing but I think if I try to start when I don't feel 100%, it'll just end up being terrible and I'll have to redo it anyway. I really, really want to have the book finished before the baby comes - which is in November. So maybe a release shortly after that? Don't hold me to that though. This might be wishful thinking. 

DC: For those considering self-publishing, what advice would you give?
BJ: It is so worth it! You have absolutely nothing to lose. There are a lot of people out there who support indie writers; it's a great community to be a part of! If you're not sure how to do something, hire someone who does and don't stress over it. There are a lot of people who will convert your book to Kindle for super cheap, or who will help you design your cover, or who will edit and help you revise your work. The resources are there, you just have to use them! Seeing your very own book available to the public is the most fulfilling feeling in the world. Don't let some agent tell you no, take control of your work and get it out there so I can read it!


There you have it folks! Come back tomorrow to enter the giveaway. And many-much-thanks to Britney for taking the time to do this!


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