Jessica A. Tanner is a young woman who uses words to build worlds.
When she isn’t writing stories full of vivid characters and creatures, Jessica enjoys a view of the Rocky Mountains, takes long walks, and hangs with her many critters. What impresses me about Jessica is that she’s in her twenties and has invested the time and effort needed to become a published author. The writing, revising, editing, and publishing process requires determination and the willingness to learn and apply new skills.
An Interview with a debut novelist and world-builder
What motivated you to become an author?
A love of stories. I know that this seems too simple, but it’s true. My parents and grandmother read to me when I was little, and my grandfather told me his life stories around the kitchen table. Plus, I’ve grown up with books all around me, every one of them full of wonderful places to explore and things to learn. I want to share what I felt from those stories with others.
What author or book has most influenced your writing?
This is a hard question to answer, but what keeps coming to mind the most is the Beyonders series by Brandon Mull. Brandon had written this series before he wrote his well-known Fablehaven series. He’d pitched Beyonders and gotten nowhere, so he allowed himself to write the first book for Fablehaven even though Beyonders kept tickling his mind. Fabelhaven was picked up and did fantastic. After releasing several book in the Fablehaven series, he tried pitching Beyonders, the series utilizing all the tools he learned from Fablehaven, and was picked up. To me, Beyonders is a reminder to not let go of the project placed on my heart first, but to also be willing to let myself write the next one, because the time may not yet be right for the first. So, if you are wondering, Sonji is technically not my first project, but I do have faith in both this book and my first. The time will come.
How did you come up with the idea for this fantasy series? Do you get ideas from dreams like many other authors?
Yes, Sonji was inspired by a dream – a single scene featuring a pair of desert dwellers, a girl and a boy. They were peering over the top of a sand dune at an oasis occupied by a small caravan. The girl pointed to a white horse tied with several others, and the boy pulled something small, almost bird like from his pocket. I asked questions and followed these characters to find out why the white horse was so important. The following books of the Dryzzian Legends series come from answering questions I don’t answer in Sonji.
Do you plot or outline each chapter, or do you just write and see where the story leads?
First, I write and see where the story leads. Then, I make an outline from the rough draft to find out what the heart of the story is, so when I dig into the re-write, I know where I’m going and what to cut or re-structure.
What do you do to create the world your characters live in? How do you make this world credible to your readers?
I follow my characters and allow myself to free write. Often, these scenes don’t wind up in the book, but they help me know the world.
Describe the steps in your writing journey.
What advice would you give young writers who want to see their stories in print?
Pray, write, pray some more, listen, and write. Get yourself connected with a writers group and/or a good mentor. Read – read craft books and whatever interests you. And don’t give up! If story-writing is what God has placed in your heart, the dream will come true.
Who will most enjoy Sonji?
Jessica: Young adults who enjoy horses, fantasy, adventure, Christian values, and a splash of clean romance will enjoy Sonji.
From the back cover:
Despite the threat of theft, Astra enters the Great Desert Race of Dryzza … only to be left horseless in the middle of nowhere. Thieves believe her white mare, Sonji, is the key to the treasury of the Palace of the Creator.
Two desert dwellers and a voice on the wind lead Astra and her friend Hamal to the legendary palace. There, they meet the Creator. He listens to their story and helps them, but for re-payment he asks Astra to convince her mother to answer his summons. Rumors of those heeding a summons and never returning home haunt Astra as she agrees.
The Creator returns Astra, Hamal, and Sonji to the race. And when Astra keeps her promise to him, the Creator surprises her.
What genre of fiction do you prefer to read?
If you like nonfiction the best, what kinds of books do you read?
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