Thursday, October 6, 2011

Interview with Jennifer Castle

Today we have the lovely Jennifer Castle with us! 
You can find her website bio here.

Who reads your manuscripts before you submit them?

Usually, my husband is my first reader -- he used to be a story analyst for Hollywood talent agencies so he’s really good at critiquing, but if I don’t like what he says he’s the easiest person in the world for me to blow off! I also send my drafts to one or two close friends whose opinions I trust, and then once I’m sure the pages don’t completely suck, I’ll show them to my agent, Jamie Weiss Chilton. It’s always tough, because you want a good number and variety of readers, but I also think too many can just create a lot of confusing noise for a writer. Ideally, you get a nice balance between quality and quantity!

Do you have a day job? 
Do you hope that writing will be your full time career in the future?

I do have a “day job” even though I work it at home: producing the PBS Kids website “It’s My Life.” It’s a great complement to my writing because it’s immediate and I have total control over it. I’m forced to focus on reality (the website covers “real life” issues for tweens) rather than fiction. I still love it, and love that it gives kids a forum for expressing themselves and getting advice on everyday problems. But it does mean my days are totally jampacked and I do hope that at some point, I can spend all my time writing. I wonder if writing will feel different, and even come out different, when it’s the only work I do.

What are you working on now?

When my editor at HarperCollins acquired “The Beginning of After,” she took a great leap of faith and contracted me for a two-book deal. So now I’m writing that second book, which is another standalone contemporary YA. It’s a very different type of story, however -- the story of five teens who are the subjects of a documentary film series that peeks in on their lives every five years. It began when they were six and now they’re sixteen…and the cameras are coming back. If it were you, would you be excited? Would you feel like you had to have something to show for the last five years? And how would it affect all of your relationships? So fun to explore. I’m really enjoying the change in tone and some new characters, because I lived with the characters from “The Beginning of After” for many years. I love them and all, but we needed some space!

What’s your favorite way to procrastinate?

Often, I’ll decide that finding music that fits what I’m writing is really so much more important than the writing itself. It’s hard work, surfing iTunes, watching YouTube, scouring my dusty vinyl record collection! This is a dangerous way for me to procrastinate because I feel like I’m still sort of working. At some point, I need to recognize when I’ve crossed the line into just screwing around. But I do end up with some great music that helps me brainstorm or put me in a good frame of mind for the real task at hand.

Where do you do your best writing? 
Do you like to have certain surroundings?

I usually write on my laptop in my home office, sitting on my couch with my feet up on an ottoman. I’ve got the woods outside my window and inevitably at least one, if not two, cats sprawled nearby. I just prefer to be comfortable (stretchy pants!) and without distractions, plus a familiar bathroom and plentiful snacks within reach. That being said, sometimes out of necessity (on weekends when my kids are in the house), I’ll go work at a café or the library, and some of my best writing comes out of that environment. There’s something about the background hum of stimulation to pleasantly distract you and jar your thoughts when you need it (provided there isn’t some cell phone bozo nearby). It’s nice to mix things up.

If you could live in one book for a day, what would it be?

Oh my…what to choose? I’ll go with the thing that popped into my head first. I’m a big historical fiction geek, especially when it comes to Renaissance England. I love Phillippa Gregory’s books like “The Queen’s Fool” and “The Boleyn Inheritance,” so if I could live in that world for a day, with all the royal court intrigue and romance, I would. I’d give anything to experience what it was really like to live in Queen Elizabeth I’s palace. I think life then was not as different from live now as we imagine it to be.

Thank you for joining us!


  1. Jennifer, thank you so much for sharing a little of yourself with us today. I always enjoy meeting new (to me) authors and looking further into their work.

  2. Very nice interview. Thank you for sharing. It's always a pleasure to learn more about the person behind the pen =)


  3. Great interview. I write on the couch with my feet up too. Except I have two dogs napping nearby vs cats. ;)