Hey Book Kooks, Ink&Scales here, saying “Long time no see!”
Hardcoverlover and I were able to score another author interview. Hooray! This time around, we were able to interview Jeffe Kennedy, author of the book series The Twelve Kingdoms, Covenant of Thorns, Master of the Opera, and a few others, as well as several stand-alones. She has written a lot of different works, such as essays, poetry, and some non-fiction. Hardcoverlover reviewed the first book of The Uncharted Realms series, The Pages of the Mind, some time ago, and the next one in the series is to be published in December of this year.
As we can see, Jeffe Kennedy is a prolific writer, and now we have the opportunity to get to know her a little better. So without further ado, let the interview commence!
Ink&Scales: First off, I want to thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. So far, we have only read one of your books: “The Pages of the Mind”. Tell us a little bit about it.
JK: This is the first novel in The Uncharted Realms, but really the fourth in this world, which began with The Mark of the Tala. This book picks up in the aftermath of that trilogy with one of the secondary characters, Dafne the Librarian.
Ink&Scales: How did you get the idea for this book?
JK: Dafne was a consistent – and much-loved – presence in the first three books. So many readers wrote to ask if she’d get her own story that I knew she’d be the natural choice for the next installment. Because language, words and knowledge are so important to her, I knew I wanted to put her in a situation where she couldn’t use those skills – married to a man she couldn’t talk to.
Ink&Scales: How did you come up with the title?
JK: I originally suggested The Pages of Fate – for Dafne’s bookish ways and the way destiny takes a strong hand in her life – but the books are all titled The Something of the Something, so my agent suggested The Pages of the Mind and that worked too!
Ink&Scales: I’ve seen you have written another series called the Twelve Kingdoms. I suppose that the events of that book unfold before the events of “The Pages of the Mind”, is that correct?
JK: Yep! Pages picks up in the aftermath of that trilogy.
Ink&Scales: Would you like to tell us a little bit more about that series, to give us a bit of background information?
JK: That trilogy is about the three princesses, each more beautiful than the last, daughters of the High King. They begin to discover that their lives, the king and the Twelve Kingdoms are not what they’ve been raised to believe. They take hold of their own destinies and change the world. (Which also creates a big mess – lol!)
Ink&Scales: Dafne is a very interesting character and one that I think a lot of readers will relate to. Tell us- what does your protagonist think about you? Would she want to hang out with you, the author, her creator?
JK: I’m pretty sure she has no idea I exist! But I like to think we’d be good friends.
Ink&Scales: To be good friends, you’d have to know them very well. If you were to imagine them in our world for a change, what sort of Starbuck’s coffee would your characters order? Simple coffee or some sort of complicated soy-non-fat-extra-espresso-half-caff-nightmare?
JK: It would depend on the character. Dafne is probably a Flat White kind of girl.
Ink&Scales: I’m sure most readers have enjoyed getting to know Dafne more in this book. Would you like to tell us what we can look forward to in your upcoming book?
JK: The next in this series is The Edge of the Blade, which is told from the point of view of Jepp, a scout and warrior who accompanies Dafne on her quest as a bodyguard. When Dafne is waylaid, Jepp must pick up her mission, and also deal with a foreign prince she committed a bit of an indiscretion with.
I’ve also got a new series coming out – called The Sorcerous Moons – and the first book, Lonen’s War, comes out in July. It’s about a sorceress whose city is attacked by a barbarian race, and a warrior forced to deal with a magical city. There are also dragons.
Ink&Scales: Dragons? Awesome! I love dragons, hence the “scales” in my name. Man, with Edge of the Blade and this new series coming out, there’s a lot of to look forward to. Now, I’m sure that everyone wants to know about your writing process, so we have to ask: how long does it take you to write a book?
JK: I’m pretty fast now and I write full time. The Sorcerous Moons books are shorter, at ~60,000 words and I can write those in about 35 days. Books like The Pages of the Mind are twice as long and take pretty much twice that time to write. About 1,700 polished words/day, including days off and revision time, works out to be the average.
Ink&Scales: Wow, that’s some pretty fast writing. Where do you get your ideas, your inspiration?
JK: A lot of them from dreams.
Ink&Scales: And how do you name all your characters?
JK: I name them for friends or readers who support my Patreon. I look up name meanings and pick names that convey their personal qualities. Sometimes the names just come to me with an idea of the character.
Ink&Scales: So we can see you take time and research for your character names. What about the story line? Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
JK: I write for discovery and seem to be incapable of pre-plotting or outlining. I have a general idea of the direction of the book and what will happen, but the details – particularly how problems are solved – always come to me as I write.
Ink&Scales: So how involved are you in your story? Do you fall into the world as you write it or do you just see it from the outside?
JK: Oh definitely very involved! I feel like I ride around in my point-of-view character’s head and discover things as they do.
Ink&Scales: And once you’ve finished the rough draft of your book, do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?
JK: For both my traditionally published and self-published books, a series of editors does that for me. Outside editing is crucial.
Ink&Scales: Where do you write? Is your workspace the definition of “neat freak” or do you prefer to keep a “controlled chaos” atmosphere?
JK: Hmm. Neither really applies. I have a dedicated writing office with a treadmill desk that looks out over a valley and distant mountains. I like my desk to be relatively clean and free of detritus or clutter, but I’m far from a neat freak.
Ink&Scales: So basically, you have a comfortably clean place to work. What about goals? Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
Ink&Scales: How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
JK: Counting only novels, including those not yet published, I’ve written about sixteen. A lot more than that with novellas and short stories. It’s hard to pick a favorite. The Talon of the Hawk, the third Twelve Kingdoms book, is very close to my heart – and not just because it won Best Fantasy Romance of 2015 from RT Book Reviews, although that helped!
Ink&Scales: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
JK: I don’t know? Maybe that each one is difficult to write in its own way – and equally rewarding in its own way.
Ink&Scales: Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
JK: Yes – I’m still working on it!
Ink&Scales: Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
JK: It took me years and lots of revisions. Eventually it ended up published by Carina as Rogue’s Pawn, my first Fantasy Romance, which then became the first in my Covenant of Thorns trilogy. But I published erotic novellas before I was ever able to sell that one.
Ink&Scales: If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novels, either writing them or getting them published, that you would change?
JK: No – because things happen the way they do for a reason. My path is my path and all that occurred led me here.
Ink&Scales: What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
JK: Reviews are for readers and it’s good for people to express their opinions. Reviews are also growing to be more and more key for discoverability on sites like Amazon, so I always appreciate any review a reader takes the time to leave. I don’t read many of them.
Ink&Scales: So reviews don’t really impact your writing. What about other books? Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
JK: Tons! I often cite Anne McCaffrey, Tanith Lee, Patricia McKillip, Anne Rice and Robin McKinley as major influences. There are many more.
Ink&Scales: I love Anne McCaffrey, especially her Dragonriders of Pern series, and Robin McKinley also has some great works. And you, as an author, do you have any advice you would like to give to aspiring writers?
JK: Write every day is the very best advice I have. The sooner you build the habit of producing words, the more your career will grow.
Ink&Scales: Now, you’ve been getting a bit bombarded with all these questions about your books and your work. Let’s relax a little. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? What do you do when you are not writing?
JK: I read. I like to take walks and garden. My husband and I watch movies and stream some shows and series. Really I have a pretty quiet life.
Ink&Scales: What about when you were younger? What were you like at school? Were you part of a clique? If so, which one?
JK: I was a total nerd – National Honor Society, French Club, theater.
Ink&Scales: If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?
JK: Well, I did write an essay collection about my life experiences – it’s called Wyoming Trucks, True Love, and the Weather Channel.
Ink&Scales: That’s an interesting title. And speaking of interesting, which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
JK: Living, I really want to meet Neil Gaiman and Tina Fey because they’re my heroes. Dead, I’d pick Tanith Lee and Anne McCaffrey, because I never got to.
Ink&Scales: I assume you like reading since you’re an author and you’ve mentioned various other authors. What book are you reading now?
JK: I am reading Grace Draven’s story, The Undying King, which appears in our duology, For Crown and Kingdom. I didn’t have time before it went live and now I’m like the last person to read it! Of course it’s awesome, as everything she writes is.
Ink&Scales: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
JK: I read M.A. Grant’s Honour Bound and really liked it – would love to read more from her. I also recently read Kelly Robson’s Nebula-nominated Waters of Versailles and greatly enjoyed it. I’m really looking forward to more from her!
Ink&Scales: And now to the nitty-gritty. We have a series of small but fun questions your readers want to know the answer to. I hope you don’t mind. Here they go.
Pen and paper, or computer?
JK: Computer all the way – anything else is too slow!
Ink&Scales: Chocolate or vanilla?
JK: Chocolate in everything but ice cream.
Ink&Scales: Light or dark chocolate?
JK: The darker the better.
Ink&Scales: Tea or coffee?
JK: I like them both!
Ink&Scales: Favorite color?
JK: Green – on the emerald end
Ink&Scales: Dogs or cats?
JK: Cats, two, Maine coons
Ink&Scales: E-reader or print book?
JK: E-reader is my preference. Saves my bookshelves and instant gratification is the best kind.
Ink&Scales: Favorite movie and tv show?
JK: My go to comfort movies are Pride & Prejudice (Keira and Matthew, thank you), Clueless and Legally Blond. Fave TV shows right now are Outlander and Game of Thrones.
Ink&Scales: D0 you like manga?
JK: I don’t dislike it, but I don’t seek it out.
Ink&Scales: How would your best friend describe your personality?
JK: I asked my husband of twenty-five years. He said: witty, charming, thoughtful, informed. He’s the reason we’ve lasted this long!
Ink&Scales: What’s your stance on creepy-crawlies? Do you go out of your way to kill bugs? Are there any that make you screech and hide?
JK: I am a bug relocater or coexister. Spiders are welcome in my home. The only critters I don’t care for are banana slugs.
Ink&Scales: Once again, thank you for your time. I appreciate that you were able to answer our questions, and I’m sure all our readers appreciate it too.
JK: Thanks so much for having me!
Also, if you like to have a look at her bio or check out her website, see below.
Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. Her essays have appeared in many publications, including Redbook.
She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.
Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com, every Sunday at the popular SFF Seven blog, on Facebook, on Goodreads and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Connor Goldsmith of Fuse Literary.