I’d like to welcome a special guest to my blog today, Janni Lee Simner, Author and captivating workshop presenter. Janni was the inspiration for my post from last week’s blog. Please welcome Janni! I’m glad you’re here.

Hello. Thanks for having me today.

Janni, please tell your readers something interesting about yourself AND/OR your favorite character.

Here's my official bio:

Janni Lee Simner was born aboard a pirate ship, but as soon as she came of age booked passage with a caravan bound for the Sahara, and spent the next decade as a seeker of lost cities, hidden tombs, and ancient artifacts. While hiding from assassins in the lost Library of Alexandria, however, she discovered she really preferred telling stories, and so she settled down in the Sonoran desert to write, interrupted only by the occasional map-bearing stranger or man-eating Gila monster.(I promise at least part of it is true. :-)

My most recent YA fantasy, Faerie Winter, is due out the first week of April. I've published two other YA fantasies (Bones of Faerie and Thief Eyes), four books for younger readers, and more than 30 short stories.

What was your favorite book as a teen? Tell us about it and how it affected you as a person.

I read and reread Madeleine L'Engle's A Swiftly Tilting Planetthroughout high school. I loved the fantasy and the world-saving adventure, I loved the mythology, I loved the unicorns, and most of all I loved the sense this book--which was about averting an all-out nuclear war--had that the awful things that could happen didn't have to happen. All of Madeleine L'Engle's Murray/O'Keefe books have this sense of fundamental all-rightness about the universe that's really stayed with me. I still believe that no matter how dark the world gets, there's always light to be found in it, too--and that somewhere deep down, things really are all right.

Tell us about the genre you have chosen to write for. Why do write specifically for them?

These days I'm writing mostly YA fantasy, though I've also written middle grade books and adult short stories. I think I write YA because I love coming of age stories, and because I love writing in that space where every decision we make seems to so very deeply matter. As for fantasy ... I've always been a fantasy reader, so it never really occurred to me to write stories without magic. I love so many things about fantasy: the sense of adventure, the reaching something beyond this world, and also, again, that tension among light and dark and all the shades in between that fantasy is so good at exploring. In fantasy, the stakes can be so high--entire worlds can be on the line--and yet fantasy is also very personal, and very much about what it means to be human.

Tell us about your new book. How did it come about and share your favorite excerpt/scene.

Faerie Winter
is a sequel to Bones of Faerie. Both stories are post-apocalyptic fantasies, set after the war between the human and faerie realms has destroyed the world. Bones of Faerie began with a single scene and a single image: a girl's father setting her sister, born touched by faerie magic, out on a hillside to die. In that scene, I already knew that there's been a war, and that it had left behind a land filled with deadly magic: trees that seek human flesh and blood, stones that glow with deadly light, darkness that can swallow a person whole. (That scene was all I knew when I started, though. Everything else, I had to learn as I wrote. I'm very much a find-the-story-as-I-tell-it sort of writer.)

It's hard to choose just one scene to share! But I have excerpts from the openings to both books online:

- <a href="
http://www.simner.com/bonesoffaerie/excerpt.html">Bones of Faerie</a>

- <a href="
http://www.simner.com/faeriewinter/excerpt.html">Faerie Winter</a>

How has writing affected your life? And what’s your favorite part of being a writer?

Ever since I was young, writing has always given me other worlds to escape to. It's also given me a way of observing the world--and a way of making sense of the world, too.

My favorite part of being a writer really is the writing, and the way that I always have a story (many stories, though I only write one at a time) in my head. There are other things I love too--I wouldn't have tried to publish if I didn't want to share my words with others--but in the end it always comes back to the words and the stories.

What advice can you give regarding the writing process?

Find the process that works best for you and embrace it. Writers tend to like to give advice, and often we forget to add a disclaimer: that this worked for me, but it may or may not work for you. Some writers outline; others (like me) just plunge in and find the story. Some write very clear first drafts; some write very messy first (and second, and third) drafts and worry about polishing later. There is no one right way to write, and time spent revising doesn't mean you made some sort of mistake with your earlier drafts. Try everything, but only keep what's useful to you. Every writer is different, and just because another writer, even a writer you admire, writes in a particular way doesn't mean you'll write in the same way.

Regarding publication and marketing, what advice can you offer aspiring writers?

Don't stress it too much. :-)

Write the best book you can. Then be professional, do your agent and editor research, and send out your query letters. As much as you can, think of this as a thing apart from the actual writing--a business thing you do, and do politely and courteously, and then let go. Once your queries are out, go back to working on your next book.

Also, no one can take the process of writing a book away from you. No matter what happens on the business side of things, the time spent writing your book, with all its joy and tears and discovery, is yours to keep forever.

Write what you love. There are no guarantees, but if you're writing what you love--that will show through, and make your stories better, and so also more commercial. Love is no more a guarantee than anything else, but it does add to the work--and to the process, because we live with our books for so long.

How can your fans find, follow or friend you?

I'm all sorts of places online--come visit!

My blog:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/janni

Twitter: innaj (that's janni, spelled backwards!)


My web page: www.simner.com

Web page for Faerie Winter: www.simner.com/faeriewinter/

Thanks so much for visiting with me Janni. It’s been wonderful getting to know you.
C.K. Volnek