Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Interview: Jenny Gardiner

Today I'm happy to welcome author Jenny Gardiner to my blog! Welcome, Jenny!

Tell us a little about yourself.

I've been writing books for oh, maybe 4 or 5 years--my first novel, Sleeping with Ward Cleaver, won the American Title III contest a few of years back. I have a memoir, Winging It: A Memoir of Caring for a Vengeful Parrot Who's Determined to Kill Me (sort of David Sedaris meets Marley & Me, with a deadly beak) that came out in March, and of course Slim to None, just out last week digitally. I live in Virginia with a lot of housepets and my family!

Describe Abbie Jennings, the heroine of Slim to None, and how you came to create her.

Abbie has SUCH a good heart. And she just LOVES food. And she means well, she really does. She gets lost in her world awfully easily, and she finds comfort in food, to a fault. Abbie evolved from a few books I'd written, then changed, then mixed up a bit, then tried to take it higher concept. I'd talked a bit with an agent friend who loved what I was writing but thought it needed to be higher concept. So we brainstormed a bit about taking this woman fixated on food and making something happen that would mean she'd have a sort of do-or-die gauntlet thrown down so that she couldn't eat, and voila, this is what we came up with. Also with Abbie I was mindful that some folks thought my protagonist in Sleeping with Ward Cleaver was a bit unsympathetic, so I set out to make Abbie very lovable (though not in a treacly way!).

What have been the differences and or challenges in promoting an ebook versus a print book?

It's not so easy getting mainstream reviews. But then again, it's not so easy getting mainstream reviews anyway. Also you don't have hard copies to send out for review or for giveaways. The other thing is that it's still early as far as who has an e-reader, so it's hard when friends and readers I know of can't read it because they don't have an e-reader. Though after the Kindle exclusive is up in July they can do the publish on demand option through Ingrams.

For me book promotion is book promotion, to some extent. But it is really about finding those readers who *can* read it, and hope that maybe some who were sitting on the fence will take the plunge (and then they'll love the book enough that they won't be mad they spent the money on an e-reader LOL).

What advantages do you think digital publishers have to offer authors?

I think the biggest thing is it gives authors some control back. There are very few authors out there who would tell you they feel as if they're in the driver's seat. Just about everything is out of our control, shy of whatever attempts we can muster to get the word out to market/publicize the book. Well, and of course writing it.

One thing I have ALWAYS hated hearing industry professionals and ultra successful authors say--you always hear this at conferences--is "Write a good book." Well, duh. Do you think writers are out ther deliberately writing bad books? I'd like to think we are doing our damnedest, for the most part, but of course there are variables over which we have no control: for instance, finding the editor who connects with your writing and with your story. More and more these days even if that happens, it's extra hard for it to go up the chain of command and have enough people sign on to it for an acquisition to happen, especially in women's fiction. Many authors are frustrated with this. So if one has the ability to market/publicize a lot, and of course a platform or prior books in the marketplace would help, then it seems like a pretty obvious choice to at least try. Because the reality of it nowadays is whether your book is in print or in e-format, you're going to have to do most of that marketing/PR anyhow.

What is your writing schedule like?

If only there was a schedule to it...I write when I can, really. I prefer to write in the morning after the kids go to school--when I'm freshest is when I'm most creative. But I'll grab time whenever/wherever I can (and that has been in the past at pick-up line at school, at soccer practice, at halftime of soccer games, you name it, if I have to be idle for more than 20 minutes or so, I'll often whip out my laptop and try to get some words down).

It's hard, though, because marketing and publicity take up a LOT of time, but it's the nature of the beast nowadays, so it's gotta be worked into it. Suffice it to say my house does not get cleaned as it should LOL

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

TOTALLY a pantser. I love to just sit down and see what happens. I mean I'll have a vague idea of start-to-finish but I noodle on things all the time and my books are evolving as I write them.

Can you tell us what you're working on now?

Oooh, I get superstitious about talking about things I'm working on...

Do you have a website or blog?



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What good books have you read recently that you'd like to recommend?

I loved Ad Hudler's Househusband, Loved Jamie Fords Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Loved Beth Hoffman's Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, love Sarah Pekkanen's Opposite of Me. I'm sure there are others but those are recent ones that stick in my head!

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Believe in yourself! It's a tough business, getting tougher by the day. It is fraught with rejection. But if you are determined and you are a good writer, then hang in there and tough it out. Try not to be demoralized (at least not too often!), and also learn everything you can about the business. Join writing groups online and nearby. Network, meet other writers. And read a LOT. I think the more you read the better a writer you become, or at least you will learn what type of writer you are. My friend and I always remind each other: The last writer standing gets the publishing contract!

Thanks for stopping by, Jenny!

Thanks for having me!!

Click here to check out Slim to None!


  1. thanks so much for having me here today! also you can read a sample chapter of SLIM TO NONE on my blog (link at end of interview)

  2. Jenny always delights me with her wit and honesty; I really enjoyed this interview.

    I had the opportunity to read an advanced copy of SLIM TO NONE and it's terrific. Brava!!!