Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Meet Jenna Johnson

Welcome to today's author party, an interview with Jenna Johnson.  See the rules in the tab above to be eligible to win a gift card from Amazon.com.

Jenna Johnson grew up and still resides on the Central Coast of California, the very place where the Legend of Oescienne began to blossom into the epic it has become. "The province of Oescienne is based primarily on the topography of this area, and some specific locations in the novel reflect actual sites. These places are dear to me, and I wanted to share their natural magic with those who might read my books."

Miss Johnson has a BA in Art Practice with a minor in Celtic Studies from the University of California at Berkeley. It was during her time in college that she decided to begin her first novel.

Besides writing and drawing, Miss Johnson enjoys reading, gardening, camping and hiking. She also loves animals and bird watching and has many bird feeders set up in her garden at home. 

1.) Give us the title and genre of your book and a 30-word or less tagline:

The Legend of Oescienne – The Finding, a middle-grade/YA fantasy. Jahrra is just another ordinary girl. But how can she be, with a dragon as her guardian in a world where humans are a myth?

2.) Who is your favorite character and why?

I love all of my characters, all for different reasons, but I’m going to have to go with Jaax as my favorite. So what makes him so special? Well, for one he’s a dragon, in all senses of the word, and he has a lot of hidden agendas. Yet, at the same time, he keeps everything well bottled up. He’s a mystery and a thorn in the side to my main protagonist, and it’s going to be fun playing these two off of each other. Complex characters are always the best, in my opinion.

3.) If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be? Why?

Hmmm, as an author, I’m always wanting to change parts of my novel. This is why I eventually had to set it aside and convince myself it was done. The one thing I might change, if it were possible, is the length. It is a bit long and perhaps a bit intimidating for younger readers, so if I could somehow shorten the word count but keep the essence of the book intact, I’d do it.

4.) Give us one interesting fun fact about your book or series:

Nearly the entire province of Oescienne (where the first and second books take place), is based on California’s Central Coast where I grew up. Everything from the lake where the characters hang out to the haunted forest surrounding Jahrra’s home are reflections of locations that actually exist. Sometimes I go back to these places to help draw inspiration.

5.) How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

The best place to find information and contact me is through my website. I also have a fan page set up on facebook.

6.) What can we expect from you in the future?

I have several projects in the works, all in the fantasy genre but ranging from children’s to a more mature audience. The books I’m most focused on right now are those in the Oescienne series (I plan for the series to be four to five books at its completion). I’m also spending a lot of time on another YA novel and an adult fantasy that is set in a land based on Yosemite Valley. Other than that, I can’t tell you much. Perhaps when I’m closer to finishing the books.

7.) And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us:

“What now?” Denaeh asked, looking puzzled.

“Nothing, it’s just . . .” Jahrra began.

Denaeh raised her eyebrows and Jahrra sighed. “Well, you know my classmates dared me to come here, but the thing is I have to prove that I came all the way to the Belloughs. But I have no idea how to prove something like that!”

Jahrra then told the Mystic everything, about the challenge, about her stupidity in falling for the twins’ ruse, and especially about Lake Ossar. “You see, only if I bring back some proof will they stay away from Lake Ossar for good. It was the only place I could go to get away from them.”

Jahrra sighed deeply and slouched back to the ground, her legs crossed and her shoulders slumped. What was the point in going back if she had failed? She could bring back one of Denaeh’s mushrooms, if the Mystic would let her, but what would that prove? It was no use; she had nothing to show for her accomplishment. She almost wished now that Denaeh had been a witch intent on eating her.

Denaeh gazed down at Jahrra, her lips pursed in scrutiny. She drew one hand up to her chin and her young face took on a pensive look. Jahrra didn’t notice when the Mystic’s thoughtful stance relaxed, but when she finally looked up at the young woman, she was beaming brightly at her.

“What?” Jahrra asked, confused by the Mystic’s sudden joy.

“Jahrra, how good are you at acting?”

That was an odd question, considering the circumstances. But Jahrra simply shrugged, “I guess I’m alright at it, I’ve never really acted before. Why?”

“Well,” Denaeh grinned, her golden eyes sparking with mischief, “I have an idea . . .”

Questions for Jenna? Leave a comment to be eligible to win the Amazon.com gift card

10 people stopped folding laundry to write:

Peggy C. said...

my 12-year-old loves books of this genre. And since he grew up not far from Central California, this sounds like a great summer read for him. Thanks for sharing!

Jenna Elizabeth Johnson said...

Hi Peggy! Glad to hear I have something to offer :). If you have any questions about the series, feel free to ask. I'll be checking back here on and off throughout the day. Happy reading!
-J.E. Johnson

Debra L Martin said...

Nice author profile Jenna! Glad to see you getting some good exposure.


Nancy said...

Dang. Another series I might have to get into! I knew this was going to be an expensive few weeks... :)

Jenna - where do you get your inspiration for the names of your characters?
(And is there a pronunciation guide in each book? ;) )

Nancy said...

Tweeted: http://twitter.com/no_zimmer/status/18457486954

Nancy said...

And shared on Facebook :)

Jenna Elizabeth Johnson said...

Thanks Nancy! Well, the inspiration for my names . . . honestly (with Jahrra's character at least) I started just throwing names or words that would sound like names around in my head; gradually forming them the way a river smooths rocks. I've always liked the name Jaax, so therefore he would be my main dragon character ;). The others took so long to form I can't remember what the original spark was, though I do have Celtic influences throughout the book :D.
There is a pronunciation guide (along with the Kruelt alphabet and map of Oescienne) in the books. You can also find them on the Dragons' Words page of my site (www.oescienne.com) - along with maps, excerpts, news, contests, how to contact me etc.
Thanks for the interest and I'll keep checking back!
-J.E. Johnson

Alicia said...

Hizas, this is Aria. I'm Alicia's daughter. I am *cue the drumroll* an aspiring author! Yeah, maybe not so much. =D But I DO like writing, and have posted a few stories based on characters from an already written book on a site called fanfiction.net that you may or may not have heard of. Anyway, I was wondering how did you get the idea for your story? Did it come to you suddenly, or did you mull it over for a bit?
~Aria~ aka my penname on fanfiction.net, TMI. =D

Jenna Elizabeth Johnson said...

Hello Aria - good question . . . this being my first book, and my first experience doing some serious writing, my answer to you would have to be 'a really long time' :).
For as long as I could remember, I've invented stories in my head, and this one started out as something and formed, over the years, into what it is today. Not until five years ago did I actually begin writing it down, and it even changed during that time as well.
Now, other stories I currently have on the backburner have taken less time to formulate (some have even happened over night). But, that very first story took its time to break free of the shell (my fear and reluctance and self-doubt about being a true author). So very glad it finally arrived! As the Korli dragons say: emerging from the egg is only the first of life's many challenges.
All the best to you and may your own writing prosper and grow and bring you great joy.
-J.E. Johnson

Armando Codina said...

I started just throwing names or words that would sound like names around in my head; gradually forming them the way a river smooths rocks. I've always liked the name Jaax, so therefore he would be my main dragon character ;). The others took so long to form I can't remember what the original spark was, though I do have Celtic influences throughout the book :D.

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