Author Interview - J. L. Minyard
J.L.Minyard is the not-so-secret pen name of award-winning young adult author Jessica Minyard. Jessica is an author, poet, ISTJ, Sagittarius, and boy mom who lives and writes from the bluegrass.
She has an MFA from Lindenwood University and her short fiction and poetry has appeared in Flash Fiction Magazine, Vamp Cat Magazine, salt + vinegar zine, Nightingale and Sparrow, Re-Side Zine, Taco Bell Quarterly, Kaleidotrope, and elsewhere.
Genre: New Adult college romance
Q1: What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book is the first in an interconnected NA romance series called Sometimes Love Ain’t Enough. The main series will be three books, but I keep thinking of more ideas for spin-offs, so we’ll see!
Honestly, SLAE was inspired a lot by my own experiences as a fat woman and a toxic relationship I had in my early twenties. Obviously, things have been changed for the purposes of fiction and the story, but the feelings Vivien has and the journey she goes on is very familiar to me. I also knew I wanted to put more positive fat representation out in the book world.
Q2: What do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused?
I create playlists for all the major projects I work on, and I listen to these when I’m writing. They help me stay grounded and stay in tune with the emotional and thematic threads of the work.
In my larger writing environment – my head, my home, etc. – I need harmony and stability. I find it very hard to focus when my life in general is in chaos. We recently went through the process of building a house, which involved several moves, and unsurprisingly I barely wrote anything. I was able to work on edits, but little new writing happened at all!
Q3: If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose and why?
Um…probably C.M. Nascosta because I’m slightly obsessed with her work and I have …questions. Important questions.
Q4: What, to you, are the most important elements of good writing?
I will forgive almost anything as long as the story is compelling in some way. Heck, I don’t even have to like the characters as long as there’s something in the story that’s pulling me forward.
I think this really boils down to making your readers care – care about anything, something, in the story.
Q5: What are common traps for new authors?
I would probably have to say spending too much time and energy on the first draft. This was my struggle as a new writer and it’s something I see a lot of new writers struggling with. The purpose of the first draft is not to have the perfect story – it’s getting the words down. If you never get the words down, you’ll never get to the next step, and the book will never be finished.
And, honestly, the editing and revision processes are where the magic happens! That’s where you find the patterns in the story, tease out the suspense or the romance, and play with language.
Q6: What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing?
In one of my last classes for my MFA program, the instructor introduced the idea of a “reason for being” when it comes to stories. Why now, why these characters, why this place, etc.
This idea really changed the way I think about craft. Sometimes this “why” gets forgotten or downsized when I’m working on my own stories and it causes me to get stuck. I find that I haven’t given my characters enough desires, or their desire might not be compelling enough to drive the story, or their desires come to fruition too easily and there are not enough challenges in their way.
Q7: How do you come up with character names for your stories?
For my contemporary work, I keep lists of first names and last names that I pull from when I’m writing. I usually start with my favourite names and add to the lists as I come across different names out in the world. I also take into account the characters’ backgrounds and backstories when I’m picking their names.
Vivien, the main character in Sometimes Love Ain’t Enough, was an interesting case because of her backstory. Her mom named her after a famous actress, but then she also chose her own pen name, so I had to think of a name the character would actually pick for herself.
Q8: At what time of the day do you do most of your writing?
I have a 3.5-year-old chaos gremlin so most of my writing happens at night, LOL. I do actually prefer to write at night. My ideal writing routine would be to stay up late writing but then also being able to sleep late the next day. I can’t do that, because of said gremlin, so I also have to grab writing time when and where I can get it.
Q9: What are you working on now?
I’m writing the second book in the Penn Warren University series! There’s a sneak peek of this book at the end of Sometimes Love Ain’t Enough so readers can find out which character this book will be focusing on.
Q10: What are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading
40-Love by Olivia Dade and very impatiently waiting for the release of
C.M. Nascosta’s Moon Blooded Breeding Clinic.
To find out more about J. L. Minyard check out the social media links below, or keep reading for an excerpt from Sometimes Love Ain’t Enough.
Sometimes Love Ain't Enough is available as paperback and ebook.
As we ate, we chatted about small, everyday things. I asked him what he was doing with the high schoolers today and he explained their team-building activities and what kind of programs they were doing at Penn Warren.
I told him a little bit about Amera and Sebastian and how we had clicked together freshman year. He complimented the house and I told him about Amera’s parents’ connections.
During a quick lull in the conversation, I asked him when his birthday was.
He looked momentarily startled before answering. “January fourth.”
“You’re a Capricorn.”
Well, that made complete and utter sense. Caps were practical, realistic, persistent, and disciplined. They also tended to have strong control over their urges and desires. Which explained a whole hell of a lot.
“How did you just know that? Off the top of your head?”
I toyed with a swirl of noodles on my plate. “Um, I like astrology, specifically horoscopes.” I held out my arm, wrist-up, so he could see the bull’s head tattooed on the inside of my wrist. “Taurus.” Gentle and fierce; built for comfort and pleasure; loyal.
He gave a little laugh. “Yeah, I saw that. I thought maybe you just liked cows.”
I flushed. “It is not a cow. It is a bull.”
He held his hands up in supplication, humor still written all over his face. “I apologize.” He grabbed my arm and brought it to his mouth, lips moving lazily over my tattoo. “I like the bull very much.”
Suddenly, the room was too hot. Suddenly, all the air was gone from my lungs.