Random Q&A: Jennifer Banash

Jennifer just started a new series, The Elite, about girls with enviable boys, enviable clothes, and enviable bank accounts. Jennifer is one of those girls you envy, by the way. She co-founded a small publishing company, has blogged on The Huffington Post, and had teen bible Seventeen name The Elite a “Buzzworthy Book.”

1) What is your typical writing day like?

My typical writing day begins around 10 AM by reading dlisted.com to get my fix of celebrity gossip!  Then I’ll usually answer email for at least an hour before I start writing for the day. This is total procrastination, but I find that it actually allows my brain to “wake up” and get ready for the writing process—or at least that’s what I tell myself . . . When I am actively writing a novel, I write two chapters a day with no exceptions—if I only get one done, then I have to make up the difference the next day. However, I take frequent breaks to pet my beagle, and eat lots of muffin-ey things!

2) What is the part of the writing process you hate, and what coping mechanisms do you employ to get through it?

The part of the writing process I hate the most is staring at the blank, white screen of my computer, waiting for the words to come, when I’m momentarily paralyzed into thinking that I don’t have anything left to say. Of course, this fades away the moment I really begin writing a chapter or a scene, but while it lasts it’s a bit terrifying. The best part is actually seeing the finished product and being able to read it aloud at readings, getting comments and questions from the audience, and hearing from readers via email–that’s what make all those long, frustrating hours at my desk so worthwhile!

3) What is the biggest surprise you’ve experienced when it comes to book publishing?

I’m not sure I was surprised by much of anything in publishing as I own and operate my own independent publishing house, Impetus Press, which champions serious literary fiction with a pop edge. What I was surprised at was how awesome and NICE both readers and writers of YA fiction are!  The YA bloggers haven’t hesitated to offer a helping hand when it comes to promotion, running contests, doing interviews, etc. And other YA authors have been tremendously helpful as well.

4) As the author of a YA series, what are your rules for aspiring series writers?

I don’t have any rules per se—but I do believe that the most important thing a young author can do is to listen to his or her own strong voice—and keep writing. Don’t pay attention to marketability or trends—just write the story YOU want to tell—and write it from the heart.

5) Authors talk about “the call.” Usually, it has to deal with getting an agent or getting published or getting an accolade. What was the best “call” you ever received in terms of your writing, and how did it go down?

The best call I’ve received so far was from my agent, Jennifer Jackson of the Donald Maass Agency. I’d queried her after I’d already signed the deal with Penguin for THE ELITE, but really felt like I needed representation nonetheless. She asked me to email her the first two manuscripts in the series, which I did on a Friday, expecting to hear back from her sometime during the next millennium . . . I was completely shocked when my phone rang on Monday afternoon, and I heard Jenn’s excited voice on the other end of the line, telling me that she’d read BOTH books and that she just couldn’t put them down! She then proceeded to not only sign me up as a client, but talked with me about my characters in depth for the better part of an hour! It was the first call I’d really ever gotten where I heard a stranger’s excitement over the series, and it meant more to me than she’ll ever know.

For more Jennifer, visit her website.


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