Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Steen Jones {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Steen...

I was born and raised in Woodstock, Georgia. While I may have only recently rediscovered my passion for writing, I have always considered myself an artist and a storyteller. A couple of years ago, a story idea gripped me and wouldn’t let go until I wrote it all down. The Door Keeper is my debut novel and I can’t wait to pursue all of the other stories that have built up in me over the last three and a half decades.

When I'm not writing, reading, painting, or baking, I love spending time binge watching TV shows with my husband and playing in the pool with my two children at our home in North Georgia.

Connect with Steen...

Goodreads: steenjones
Twitter: @steenjones
Instagram: @thedoorkeepertrilogy
Pre-order: The Door Keeper 

Get to know Steen...

You and Writing

I've had a interesting journey with writing over the last thirty five years. I've only recently been reminded of my love for writing as a kid. Going through all of my stuff stored in my parents attic, I found illustrated books I wrote in elementary school and the English award I received for the 6th grade. However, it was never something I actually considered pursuing as a profession or even hobby. Drawing and painting took precedence and I studied those, letting writing fall to the wayside.

Over the past six years, however, writing became my coping mechanism. Having married young and given birth to two special needs children, journaling everyday became the way I managed and sifted through my emotions and helped keep me sane through a rather difficult period. It was only when a story idea gripped me that I actually considered writing something other than just in my journal.

The story for The Door Keeper was actually inspired by a real door I drove by one day. It was a free standing door, unattached to anything I could see and quite peculiar. I allowed my imagination to run free one day, imaging Narnia on the other side. Suddenly a story began to form and over the next four or five years, I would randomly think about it and jot more notes in my phone. Bored on day in January 2015, I wrote the outline for the first half of the book and actually got excited enough to start writing it. I didn't tell anyone what I was doing until I was about ten thousand words in. At that point, I knew I might have something.

Your Writing 

Do you have a favorite character in this work?
Absolutely. I adore Gabby, my main character's daughter. It's easy to love her because I based her on my own daughter. Her beauty, talent, and funny quirks. Writing Gabby was one of the easiest things I've ever done.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with? 
I hope my readers come away with the understanding of the dangers of living in fear. Fear is destructive and manipulative and allowing it to control your decisions can lead to an upsetting path.

What's the theme? How did you come up with it? 
My theme and tension in the book is the delicate balance of motherhood and destiny. I love the idea so much because as a mother and business owner, this is something I wrestled with for years, and still do honestly. I wanted to write a book that I could love and identify with, and what's better than mixing real life and magical worlds?

Is there a funny story associated with writing the book? 
Well, it was funny to me after the fact. I was at the lake with my family while writing one of the more intense parts of the book. I was sitting on the dock and in the middle of writing one of the major action sequences and got called in for dinner. I was so hyped up by what was happening in the story and mad that I couldn't continue to write what happened next, I slammed my computer down and almost threw it into the lake. Thankfully cooler heads prevailed. It was such a terribly wonderful cliff hanger, I decided to leave it that way. So hopefully, you get as mad at me as I did that day, if you have to put the book down at that spot.

Did you get to do any fun research for the book? 
Oh my heaven yes. I set much of the book in Italy, specifically the Amalfi coast. I have yet to go, (trip is in the works,) so my research days being immersed in Positano, Sorrento, and Capri were some of my favorite days. Almost everything I wrote about in those cities actually exist, so I wanted it to be as accurate as possible without having been there myself.

We're your characters easy to pin down or did you discover them along the way as you wrote the book?
 It was funny, I actually based most of my characters on people in my life. Turns out, they were all just a spring board because as the book progressed, they all took on a life of their own. It was an interesting process to watch and I didn't expect it. The story was the same way. I would sit down on some days and prepare for a certain scene, but end of writing something completely different. Sometimes, I swore my fingers had a mind of their own.

What's the most random thing you had to Google for the story? 
Ground sloths. Bus routes from Naples to Sorrento. Studies of Floriculture. Archaic weaponry. Just to name a few.


How long did you write before you got published? 
Before I say, just remember that for whatever reason, my story is an anomaly and feel free to be mad, angry or frustrated at me. I give you permission. And don't worry, I feel guilty sometimes telling people knowing what most people go through in this industry! Also remember, I chased down small indie publishers and didn't have the patience to wait for an agent or big publisher to notice me. I wrote the outline for The Door Keeper on January 11, 2015, sold it in March of 2016, and it will be released on February 20, 2017. It took me a year to write/edit, then a year for publication.

What's your encouragement for younger writers? 
Obviously, I can't speak into the long suffering pursuit of being an author, nor will I front like I can. But having raised two special needs kids, pursuing multiple careers, starting two different businesses, running one of them for five years, and being married for over fifteen years...I can speak into pursuing your dreams. If you have a passion, no matter what it is, be content and find joy doing it as a hobby on the side. Trust God's timing and him to provide the opportunities when you are ready for them. He knows so much more than we do.

What did you learn along the path to publishing that you'd care to share as encouragement? 
Now, this I can speak into. There is no wrong way to do this! There are benefits to being published by a large, well known publisher, and benefits for smaller indie publishers, same with self-publishing. I would encourage you to absorb info from all platforms and formulate for yourself what is best for you! Don't be afraid to take a path less traveled.

What does your writing process look like? 
In the morning, my writing sessions consist of coffee, blankets, music, and my dogs cuddled up on the couch with me. In the evening, there is a bed and a glass of wine.

Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? 
I already mentioned I find my character inspiration in the people closest to me, heaven help them. Same with story, there are so many scenes in the book that are my real life. But I have to tell you, some of the best ideas and brainstorms have happened in the bath. Anytime I have a block or can't figure out to go next, I get in the bath. It's so weird, like my brain opens up in water. I'm sure there is something scientific about it...maybe I should google it?


What's one thing you are looking forward to this year? 
I can't wait for February 20th. I can't wait to be able to tell people where they can buy my book. I'm just going to be so annoyingly happy through this whole process.

What are your writing goals for this New Year? 
I'm already half way through writing the first draft of the sequel to The Door Keeper. So, I'm really hoping to finish writing it and attempt to have it out before next Christmas...fingers crossed!

What are you currently reading? 
I'm super excited to be starting the Harry Potter series this month. Don't judge! Better late than never, right?! 

The Door Keeper

Adventure. Love. Destiny. 

Single mom Eden Saunders has learned that tragedy is simply a part of life. Her mother died during childbirth, and her husband was killed just three years after they married. On a journey to discover where she comes from, Eden inherits the key to unlocking new worlds from her deceased mother—including the world that should have been her home. The only thing stopping her from exploring them is the fear of leaving her daughter behind. Caught up in the circle of legacy, Eden discovers the mother-daughter bond that even death cannot break.

Click here or visit Royal James Publishing’s Facebook page to enter to win a signed copy of, The Door Keeper by Steen Jones and a $20 Amazon gift card.

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