Monday, October 12, 2009

Interview with Debut Author Jenness Walker

Jenness Walker and I were in the same critique group a couple years ago and I had the privilege of meeting her in person a few weeks ago at the ACFW conference. I have also had the privilege of reading a ton of her work. I am so excited to announce that today is the release date for Jenness' debut novel, Double Take.

When I heard that Jenness had openings in her blog tour, I jumped at the chance and I am honored to have been given the actual debut date slot. I will say I have not yet read Double Take but I am dying to get my hands on a copy because I KNOW what an awesome author Jenness is and I've been reading the reviews - which are excellent!

Below is a synopsis of the book, followed by a fun interview so you can get to know Jenness a little better. I strongly encourage you to check out her book. You'll thank me later, I promise!

Cole Leighton can barely believe his eyes. A woman on his bus has just been abducted--in an exact reflection of a scene from the bestselling novel he's reading. Someone is bringing the book to life...and isn't above forcing an innocent woman to follow the story to its tragic end. Using the novel as his playbook, Cole catches up with the beautiful victim--but rescuing Kenzie Jacobs doesn't keep her safe for long. The killer is writing his own ending, and none of the twists and turns lead to happily ever after.

LYNDA: How long have you been writing and do you remember the first thing you ever wrote?

JENNESS: I’ve been acting out or writing down stories for as long as I can remember. The first thing I remember writing was a picture book in first grade. It was Goldilocks and the Three Bears With a Twist, and I illustrated it, too. The twist was basically that Goldilocks wanted to play with baby bear when the family got home, but baby bear ran away. Hm…I wonder if that meant I was dealing with loneliness issues or something? J It’ll probably come out in therapy some day.

LYNDA: Give us a brief summary of your debut novel Double Take.

JENNESS: In a couple sentences, the good guy’s reading a book. The bad guy’s acting it out on the unsuspecting heroine. The good guy figures out what’s happening and tries to save the day.

LYNDA: Where did the idea for this story come from?

JENNESS: I have no idea. I’d just read an interview about a book cover model and thought it was pretty interesting. Then I was mulling over the book My Hands Came Away Red and the movie Speed and trying to come up with a plot that combined elements of the two. Instead, Double Take came out, which is only similar to Speed in that it has a bus.

LYNDA: Double Take (previously titled Déjà vu) won the Romantic Suspense category in the Genesis contest last year. How did you end up landing a contract so quickly? And what was it like to receive “the call” informing you that Steeple Hill wanted to publish your book?

JENNESS: There were a couple months between Déjà Vu being judged in the final round and the winners being announced. During that time, the editor who judged it contacted the contest coordinator to let them know she was interested in seeing the full manuscript. So by the time the ACFW conference rolled around, the full manuscript was already on her desk. Then my agent called. I had just gotten out of the shower and missed it. Listened to the message to call her ASAP. Figured I should be all ready for the day before I called her back, just in case it was The Call—I didn’t know how I’d react. Run around the neighborhood screaming? Bust in on my husband’s class? I didn’t. I was very calm and collected, although probably grinning like a fool. I told my mom on the phone while she was driving and she just about wrecked. My sweet husband gave me card…one that he’d bought months before for just such an occasion. How’s that for faith?

LYNDA: I'm getting teary! What a sweet husband you have (honey, are you reading this? LoL)

So why should readers pick up a copy of your book? And what do you hope readers take away from the story?

JENNESS: Because my mama thinks you should? Ha. Really, though, if you like romantic suspense, I think you’ll like it. Double Take has some good twists and a few moments that had me a little scared to get out of bed at night. Yes, I'm a weenie; I admit it. Besides enjoying the story, I hope readers come away knowing no matter who they are, God loves them. And no matter what they’ve done, His grace can cover it.

LYNDA: How long did it take you to write this story? And what is your favorite and least favorite part of the writing process?

JENNESS: It probably took me 5-6 months to write it, plus a few more months of revisions and edits. Major revisions are very hard for me, so that’s definitely my least favorite part. What I like best are the beginning and the end—the brand new idea full of potential, the ending where everything ties together so perfectly, giving such a sense of accomplishment.

LYNDA: What types of books do you like to read? Any authors you particularly enjoy?

JENNESS: I read almost anything, although I’m partial to romantic suspense and rarely pick up a book with a bonnet on the cover. My list of favorite authors is a mile long, so here are just a few: Tosca Lee, Davis Bunn, Susan May Warren, Kristen Heitzmann, Ray Blackston, Laura Jensen Walker…Okay, I’ll quit now, if I have to.

LYNDA: Tell us something about you that we might be surprised to learn.

JENNESS: I was raised in a very musical family, so even though I can’t play the piano or sing a decent solo, music is a huge part of my life. Many of my stories are inspired by songs. The right music choice helps set the mood for a scene, and sometimes I’ll repeat the same song over and over while writing a section, matching the lyrics with the action of the story. My own personal soundtrack. I’m obviously not one of those writers’ who prefer to write in silence.

LYNDA: What’s next for you?

JENNESS: I have a couple projects going right now—a long-term WIP that’s very close to my heart and is different from anything I’ve tried before. I just got some good advice for it at the ACFW conference, so it’s going on the back-burner once again while I mull over the best way to move forward with it. I’m also just starting to rewrite my very first novel to cut it down and make it a fit for the LIS line. It’s about a man who’s lost everything, the woman who tries to bring him back to life, and the killer who wants to destroy them both.

LYNDA: What advice would you give writers trying to break in to the Christian fiction market?

JENNESS: This might come across like I’m telling you not to obey the rules or learn the craft. That’s not what I’m saying. But the most important thing is to have a great idea and a way of telling it that keeps the reader interested. Double Take won the Genesis contest and got a request for the full because of the first three chapters. But those same chapters were either deleted or moved at the request of the editors. So even though they didn’t end up being the right intro for the story, they made the reader want to know what was going to happen. Get your story the best you can get it. Then an editor will help you take it to the next level.

LYNDA: Great advice! Thanks so much, Jenness, for taking the time to chat. I truly am SO excited for you. But I have to say, I knew it was only a matter of time.

Jenness Walker lives in Florida with her beloved husband and almost-as-beloved laptop. She has a minor in creative writing and loves to write romantic suspense on her own, or co-author humorous women's fiction with Tracy Bowen. When she's not reading or writing, Jenness loves to decorate, hang out with friends, or plan her next roadtrip.

Purchase Double Take from

Visit Jenness online: JENNESSWALKER.COM
Read 10 Fun Facts about Jenness


jenness said...

Thanks so much, Lynda!

PatriciaW said...

I have this one on my TBR list, although I haven't picked up a copy as yet. Congratulations Jenness on your debut!

Betsy St. Amant said...

Great interview!!