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1. If you could have coffee with any character from your novels, who would it be and why?
Oh, that’s easy. Hayden. A gorgeous, brooding, broken guy with dark hair, blue eyes, and dimples to boot. Need I say more? I think a lot of women have this intrinsic need to fix, and inevitably soften, the bad boy. And while Hayden is indeed sexy, cocky, and a total bad boy, he’s also vulnerable and desperately in need of love. I’m fairly certain time spent with him would be not only interesting, but a whole lot of fun—especially if a microphone or honey was involved.
2. At what age did you decide you wanted to pursue a writing career?
Until I was a high school senior, I believed I’d become a film director one day. When I realized I needed to move across the country in order to pursue that dream, I knew I’d never be able to leave my family and changed career paths. Fast forward to four years ago…I bought a laptop while on maternity leave and wrote my first novel inspired by the Brad Paisley song “Letter to Me.” While I was editing that YA novel, I dreamt Hayden and Alex’s story. I immediately dropped everything and wrote Until Alex. I guess, to answer your question, I never endeavored to become a writer, but I love doing it and will continue to do so as long as I have good stories to tell, time to do it, and people who’d like to read my work.
3. Do you remember the first book you ever wrote? And if so, what was it about?
My first piece of writing was a screenplay about an undercover FBI rookie who unknowingly gets assigned to seek information from the man who murdered her father. Even with all the rejection letters I received, I truly believed if it got into the right hands, it would be a success. Then, as if the fates had aligned, I was lucky enough to get Drew Barrymore to read it. And she actually enjoyed it! Sadly, her production company partner did not. That was the moment I realized the odds of having a movie made of my screenplay was like winning the lottery. Now it sits in a drawer in my office. In a way it inspired me to release Until Alex because my husband forbid me from “doing nothing” with another project.
4. Are you an outliner or a pantser?
Both. I get an idea and consider the big events that will happen—usually the swoon worthy moments since those are what I love most in a book—and the major conflicts. Then I write them down so I don’t forget them and just wing my way from event to event. Different ideas pop into my mind every day, so I jot them down and find a place for them or write a scene for them as I go.
5. How long did it take you to write Until Alex?
A year, but the majority of that time was me editing and fixing word choice and sentence structure, not major plot revisions. I’m a total perfectionist, so I was never happy with it. I finally decided to find an editor. Enter author Stephanie Elliot who is simply amazing! Stephanie is the one who pushed me to actually self publish. No one had read it until her, so I had no idea if people would even like it. She gave me the motivation to do it. And I am so thankful that I did.
6. What is your favorite social media site and why?
Goodreads! I am an avid reader and a huge fan of books and authors. So as a reader, I always need to know what everyone else is reading. As an author, I love connecting with readers who’ve read Until Alex (and plan to read Since Drew). One thing I will say is reading reviews of your own work is a double-edged sword. While the good ones can be amazing and encouraging, it is never easy to hear someone didn’t like your work. I try to remind myself that as reader, I don’t love everything I read. But it still stings a little.
7. You seem to have had quite a bit of success (over 400 Goodreads reviews and 40+ Amazon) since the release of Until Alex. What are some of your tips and tricks for other aspiring writers?
I think it all comes down to luck and finding the right audience for your novel. If you decide to self-publish, it’s essential you get your novel into their hands. Writing is the easy part. Self-promotion is the tough part. It takes a lot of time. You must do all your own marketing. In addition, you need to be willing to give books away. You need reviews. Most won’t buy a book if there are no reviews for it. Months before I released Until Alex, I contacted new adult bloggers (who I researched first) and asked if they would be interested in reading and reviewing an ARC. I also put it on NetGalley so bloggers there could get it and review it before the release day. There were so many amazing bloggers who took a chance on me, a first time author. I am truly indebted to them, as well as the amazing reviewers who spread the word on Goodreads, Facebook, blogs, and Amazon. Without them, no one would have even heard of my novel.
8. What is your writing process?
I come home from work and while my son is still napping, I write. I add new scenes, edit old scenes, reread chapters, etc. I’ve found that reading a draft on my iPad while editing it on my laptop, works best for me. That was I see it the way readers will.
9. What would you say has been your biggest accomplishment since you began writing?
Releasing a novel that people seem to enjoy! There is nothing like getting a five star review or having a reader contact you to tell you how moved they were by your work. The positive feedback has rendered me speechless.
10. What gives you inspiration?
Everything! Though, country music has really been a huge inspiration for me. I love the feelings of love, loss, heartache, and youth it evokes. Being out and about around other people also inspires me. Ideas flood me when I actually pay attention to what’s happening around me. It could be a location for a scene or just a situation I witness. The other day, for example, I was leaving school and saw one of my students standing with his girlfriend and just staring down at her. I remember seeing that look on his face and in his eyes. That look of first love—like that other person is the most amazing person in the world and you’d be willing to do whatever it takes to hold on to them. I loved that feeling when I was younger. And I miss it. I think that might be why I try to replicate it in my stories. It’s why I love swoon-worthy moments. When you’re living those moments in real life—especially when you’re young—you don’t realize that’s what they are. But looking back, you wish you savored them. Writing lets me savor those moments, and hopefully give them to my readers.
J. Nathan is the author of the new adult novel Until Alex and the upcoming Since Drew. When she's not writing, she can be found spending time with her family and friends on the east coast, teaching high school English, working on her next novel, or relaxing with a good book. She’s a total romance junkie. Add an alpha male who's unlikable to the mix, and she’s all in. Happy endings are a must. Don’t leave her with an unexpected cliffhanger or someone dying in the end—she’ll be depressed for days. Love triangles and negative people are the bane of her existence. Her family, friends, sangria, and watermelon margaritas are the light.
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