Saturday, March 19, 2011

PR Special Edition (26): Jennifer Archer Interview!

 Poisoned Rationality Special Edition

Welcome to another Poisoned Rationality Special Edition!  Today we have Jennifer Archer, author of Through Her Eyes answering questions!

Synopsis:  Every ghost has a story to tell
The last place Tansy Piper wants to be is stuck in Cedar Canyon, Texas, in the middle of nowhere, with a bunch of small-town kids. But when her mother decides to move to the desolate West Texas town, Tansy has no choice but to go along. Once there, Tansy is immediately drawn to the turret of their rickety old house, a place she soon learns has a disturbing history. But its the strange artifacts she finds in the cellar--a pocket watch, a journal of poetry, and a tiny crystal--that have the most chilling impact on her. 

Tansy soon finds that through the lens of her camera, she can become part of a surreal black-and-white world where her life is intertwined with that of mysterious, troubled Henry, who lived in the same house and died decades earlier. It seems their lives are linked by fate and the artifacts she found, but as Tansy begins spending more and more time in the past, her present world starts to fade away. Tansy must untangle herself from Henry's dangerous reality-- before she loses touch with her own life forever.


When weaving together the different plot threads, time periods and connections, did you have to keep a chart handy to make sure you didn't mix character developments for Tansy with Bethyl Anne or connect plot point A with plot point D instead of B?
Many writers work with plotting charts, character charts, and outlines, but I don’t. I’m not that organized, and my mind just doesn’t function in that way. Too much structuring of my story in advance stifles me instead of helping me stay on course. When I was teaching creative writing classes, I noticed that the students who were more left-brained and writing plot-driven stories loved using charts, while the more right-brained students who were writing character-driven stories were more free-form in their approach.
I’m definitely more right-brained, and my books tend to be character-driven. By that, I mean that the characters’ motivations – their desires, fears, needs, etc. – dictate what takes place in the story more than outside events do. Before I begin writing chapters, I work up a bare-bones synopsis that gives an overview of the plotline, the story conflicts, and the characters’ personality traits and motivations, but that’s it. I try to catch mistakes and anything else I’ve missed when I do rewrites and revisions.
Did the idea for Through Her Eyes originally begin as a ghost story, or did that develop from a very different beginning?
My original plans for the story did not include a ghost. Tansy found Henry’s hidden treasures from 1939, and she felt connected to him through his poems and was curious to unravel the mystery of what happened to him, but I didn’t imagine anything supernatural taking place. However, all the elements were there for a ghost story, and when I realized that and my thoughts turned more that direction, everything fell into place. I was able to delve more deeply into Henry as a character and explore his past in a way I wouldn’t have been able to if I had stayed true to the original idea. That was great fun for me because Henry is such a troubled, complex guy!
Are you more of a small town girl or metropolitan girl?  Do you prefer to read about one type heroine or the other?
I love cities, but only if they’re “walking” cities such as Seattle and New York City that I can easily get around in without a car; I can’t stand wasting time stuck in traffic! Still,  I’d have to say that I’m a small town girl. I live in a mid-sized city of about 175,000, but Amarillo is very much like a small town in many ways. I moved to Amarillo when I was sixteen, and I’m still here. It’s rare to go to a movie or dinner or shopping and not see at least one person I know, as well as many faces I recognize. People here have the warmth and friendliness of small town folks. 
And those of us who’ve been around for awhile know everybody’s history, including family scandals and who did what to whom in 1992 – in other words, just like in a little town, it’s tough to get away with anything here! Prior to moving to Amarillo at sixteen, I spent my childhood in true small towns – places with populations of about 40,000 or less in Texas, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and California.

I like to read about all kinds of heroines! When the main character of a novel is a city girl, I get to experience that lifestyle vicariously through her, which is fun. On the other hand, when the heroine is a small-town girl, I can usually relate some of her experiences to my own, so that instantly makes me connect to her, which is great, too.
Going from women's fiction and romance, was there any challenges you didn't anticipate?  Any content you realized would have to be subdued to keep it in the young adult category?
At first I was concerned that I’d have trouble reconnecting with my teen self and remembering the emotions and worries, hopes and dreams that go along with being sixteen. At that age, a person is on the cusp of so much change, and life can be so intense and confusing and filled with ups and downs. However, as I started to revisit my memories of that time in my own life, I found that they’re so vivid that it was easier than I thought to step into my teenage skin again. 
As for subduing content, I don’t believe in “writing down” to teen readers, whether it’s the level of the vocabulary, story themes, or language. Teens are smart and perceptive, and they deal with many of the same issues that adults do. Even so, I make sure that any element I include in a YA story that I write is there for a good reason. For instance, if a character curses or there’s violence, it must be necessary to the reality of the situation and true to that character or I don’t use it. Come to think of it, I maintain that same rule of thumb when writing for adults, so there’s really no difference in the way I approach either audience.  
Quick Q's:

Cake or pie? Definitely pie. Blackberry or coconut cream. Yum.

Book you're reading right now? I’m reading two, at the moment. In the Woods, a psychological suspense novel for adults by Tana French.  And Beautiful Creatures, a YA by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.

Favorite Season?  Fall. Crisp, cool air. Colorful leaves. Pumpkin patches. Boots and scarves. Perfect.

Favorite Quote? I have two favorites. Because I think travel is not only fun and educational, it opens minds, broadens attitudes, and instills acceptance, I love this St. Augustine quote: "The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page."  My other favorite quote is from Helen Keller: “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.”

What great questions, Lexie! I’ve enjoyed my visit to your blog; thanks for having me. I hope your readers will look for Through Her Eyes next month and let me know what they think of the story. Until then, I invite everyone to visit my website www.jenniferarcher.net and watch the book trailer, and also to stop by my blog www.jenniferarcher.blogspot.com.


Thank you Jennifer! You heard her guys--go check out her blog and website!  As for me Through Her Eyes proved one thing to me if nothing else--don't go poking around odd places.  My constitution wouldn't be able to handle it at all!

Extra treat check out the Through Her Eyes book trailer
And remember to enter Jennifer's Gargantuan Giveaway by April 4. Prizes include Kindles, iPods & more!
Details: http://www.jenniferarcher.net/news_events.html (though I kinda want to win, so how's about y'all just enter for me?)

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