Welcome to the exciting month of March! As we all look forward to the first day of spring, let’s warm up with the work of author Jennifer Wolfe who is our guest today.
Jennifer L Wolfe lives with her husband and three children in Illinois, just four miles from the home where she grew up and where her parents still live. Although she has published before, The Candidate is her first work of fiction, and was drawn from a multi-genre interest and background in sociology. Her “day job” consists of representing clients in a variety of civil matters; she is a partner at a law firm. In her spare time, she helps keep her children active in sports and the arts. She can also be found on weekends around her yard building retaining walls and laying patio pavers. The Candidate was a joy to write—it is her hope is that is a joy for us to read and makes us think.
Jennifer L Wolfe welcomes any comments and feedback on the story or predictions on where we think the story is headed! She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And now for some Questions & Answers
How did you get into writing? I’ve always been interested in reading. After reading a number of newspaper headlines and having a fascination with human nature, a story came to me. Putting it down to paper was a natural way to feed the obsession that the story became.
What genre do you write? The Project Lion Series crosses into many genres: Science Fiction (time travel), history, Greek mythology, political/conspiracy thriller, and dystopian. There is also a love for family, which drives the main character to endure hardship following orders throughout 3500 years to make it back to them in the present time. I believe that there’s something for everyone.
What is your target audience? The target audience would be adults or mature teens (due to some language) that are looking for something different and (hopefully) not too predictable. The Candidate can be kept at a light read (if you just want to follow the characters/story and not compare or reflect on the topics and how they can apply to real life), or the reader can delve into the many layers to appreciate how the story weaves through time incorporating historical events and mythology in the character’s journey to return to his family and learn from humanity’s mistakes to try to save the future of mankind.
What have you published to date? Do you write under a pseudonym? Project Lion: The Candidate was epublished in September 2013. I write fiction under JL Wolfe. Professionally, I write under my full name, but most people won’t be interested in those articles.
If you are self-published, what led to this choice? I am self-published for a variety of reasons. Mainly, I wanted to retain control and have final say throughout the editing process. Reality and ambition played a part, too—essentially, I am an unknown writer; I anticipated an uphill battle fraught with enormous time commitment in searching out publishers, agents, and other traditional publishing professionals. Also, because writing is more of a hobby and joy (I’m keeping my “day job”), I felt no need or pressure to follow the traditional path to publishing.
How would you review your book for readers who might be considering it? “A MUST read! It’s an escape that twists the story in ways you do not expect.” Project Lion: The Candidate can be a simple story of an individual’s growth as he endures 3500 years of humanity to find a solution to modern day global problems but also can help motivate the reader to be more aware of their environment and how current events may be manipulated by the motives and agendas of ruling bodies—whether the entities in charge are in the shadows or a named government.
Do you have a favorite book or character (that you’ve written)? Because I have written one book—knowing my favorite book is easy! It’s hard to have a “favorite” character–can you really love one child more than another? The interaction with everyone you meet molds you into the person you are and who you are also changes and grows over time. I can have favorite snapshots of characters in time—such as The Candidate’s cover photograph—which is of my husband and daughter. When I look at that picture, I see their close relationship and love for each other, not just the simple duet they played.
If any of your books were to be made into films, who would you have as the lead actor(s)? I had one reader write to me saying she knows that this story is going to be made into a film and that Steven Spielberg has got to direct it. I’d be fond of Michael J. Fox playing Alex Martell (The Candidate), Sam Elliot playing Dr. Jonathan Bishop (The Historian), Clint Eastwood playing Henry Ackerman (The Historian’s Assistant), Hugh Jackman playing Sergei Bogdanov (The Russian Guardian) and Edward Norton playing Hunter Mathews (The American Guardian).
Which author(s) would you say influence your writing? There would be many that have influenced how I approach writing. However, one that helped in a major architectural manner would be Piers Anthony—specifically the Incarnations of Immortality series. Since reading that series in junior high, I have been fascinated with the approach of telling a story through the eyes of different characters and how everything can weave together.
How did you choose the title / cover of your books? How important do you think title/cover is to the book? Picking your cover is tough—because it is so important. The title is important, but not as hard as designing the cover. I finally settled on wanting the scene when The Candidate arrives in Ancient Greece 3500 years ago, and used a photo of the Greece coast with the Starburst created by the time travel capsule. Family and music are strong threads that will be consistent throughout the series, so I wanted to portray that on the cover as well. My husband needed a lot of pleading to be in the photo (the scene is explained in the Epilogue: There’s Something About Mary), but finally conceded so that our daughter would have a neat memory and because it was important to me. Writing is a very personal endeavor—there is so much of yourself in the pages, having two of the people I love the most on the cover completed this journey; I can look at that picture and remember the whole process. It makes the book all the more special to me, as a first book should be. If others find it intriguing enough to open the cover and start reading the first chapter—that’s just gravy on top! My daughter was an easy sell—she loves her picture taken and will pose for most anything, though she thought the picture would be better if she was facing the camera!
What are you working on at the moment? Are you planning on another book? I am currently working on the next books of the Project Lion Series. They are all laid out with outlines; the next two books have more details and research completed. Book two has many full draft chapters finished and almost all of the movie titles for the chapter headings selected. (The Candidate’s chapter headings are all movie titles; I may need to switch to song titles before the last book is written—but hope to continue to use movie titles for as long as possible!)
Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? I wish I could write everyday! I think about the story and characters everyday but don’t always get pen to paper due to a busy life with a full time job and three active young children. I can’t say that I’ve had writer’s block in the sense that it’s usually meant, but I have had difficulty conveying in words what I feel and want the reader to be able to experience—that can sometimes take a lot of time pondering the best approach and tweaking.
Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it? The story came about with an idea that I just ran with. However, after I started writing (Chapter 4—where I introduce The Candidate, was the first chapter written), I created some structure to the way the story is presented. In the first book, the beginning few chapters introduce four of the main characters and are more modern day/conspiracy theory, with the middle chapters going back in time and addressing lessons in history and Greek Mythology to bring the character back to modern time. The Epilogue (There’s Something About Mary) is a back story about Alex and the woman he loves. The remaining books in the series will follow a similar structure.
Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names, and what do you think makes them believable? Picking a character’s name was harder than naming my children! You want them to be real and sound natural. Some of them were easy and are named after a friend or my grandmother, but most are difficult. I teach a class on Wills, Trusts, and Estates at the local junior college where I have to discuss husbands, wives, sons, and daughters a lot. I end up using in examples “Henry,” “Wilma,” “Sam,” or “Dana”—a name that starts with their same family designation to help keep things straight and regularly use those abbreviations (“H,” “W,” etc.) when diagraming out fact patterns. Thus, for a long time my characters were “abbreviations” and really had no names. For example, I used “H.A.” for the Historian’s assistant for a long time as I had trouble selecting his name. He eventually was named “Henry Ackerman.”
Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed? Certainly, the more you write, the easier it becomes to put out a more complete draft. You also become closer to the characters which makes their story easier to tell. One editor (a shout out to Andrew Doty) commented that he would make certain suggestions on how I should improve my writing and then would come to the next chapters that incorporated those suggestions—considering the book has some time travel components, the observation was ironic and intriguing.
How much research do you do? A LOT! There are a number of historical events and Ancient Greek mythology that I am amazed have tied into this story so well. Newspaper headings and disclosers are also coming out “in real life” that can so easily be incorporated into and explained by this storyline.
Do you have an agent? Do you believe they are vital to an author’s success? I don’t have an agent, so I cannot agree that they are vital to an author’s success. Depending on what the author’s view of “success” is would depend on how vital they would be to the author. A well-known and dedicated agent can certainly help sell books; so would getting a recommendation from Oprah! Locating a good editor and getting feedback to make your book polished is what I have found helpful in the success I’ve had.
How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or for yourself as a ‘brand’? What types of marketing have you found to be the most successful? I have found marketing to be my least favorite part of this process—which ties nicely to your next question! Word of mouth and book clubs seem to be what help me the most. I’ve also done a book trailer that focuses on the global concerns and abstractly shows how peace can quickly transform into chaos and death. It’s not a traditional trailer, but I like it—and love hearing my husband play Moonlight Sonata in the background, which is a backstory in the book. I’d love to hear of any useful marketing ideas from others!
What is your favorite / least favorite aspect of your writing life? Has anything about your writing surprised you? My favorite part, by far, is sharing my story and discussing the different topics with readers. To know that someone has enjoyed your work and that it has helped them, through self-reflection, improve their awareness and outlook is amazing. Marketing would me my least favorite—I so do not enjoy self-promotion, but accept it as a necessary evil. The biggest surprise in writing The Candidate was that it was so much fun and helped bring my husband and I closer—as he is my sounding board. There are enough inside jokes throughout the book, that I’m sure the reader during the first time through and without the benefit of knowing all the twists and storyline, will scratch their heads wondering why that bit of information was even mentioned—but it has my husband and I laughing so hard our sides hurt and we have tears in our eyes.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers? The whole process can be exciting and enchanting—and a lot of work. (Who would have thought editing and rewrites would take so much time??) Keep taking steps—eventually, no matter how small or large, or fast or slow, those steps will get you to the end. Whether the final product is something you want to share with the world, a few close friends, or was just a journey you wanted to give yourself—the trip can be amazing, scary, wonderful, stressful and brings out so many conflicting emotions that it is so worth your effort.
If you had to choose a single day from your past to re-live over and over, what day would it be and why? Groundhog’s Day is one of my all-time favorite movies—it can take an ordinary grumpy day and make it extraordinary. I’d like to think that I could do the same with any day of my past; there are certainly many I could do better with a second time around!
Do you have a favorite phrase or quote? I’m fond of: Nothing has value unless it is shared, which I include in my dedication; not in the sense of promoting socialism or devaluing “alone time,” but that when you reminisce about your happiest moments—chances are those moments include other people and happened because other people were included.
Let’s wrap things up with a synopsis of Project Lion: The Candidate:
Driven on by a need to locate and secure his wife and children, Alex Martell finds himself thoroughly unprepared as he becomes swept up in global conspiracies and the agendas of competing world powers. Selected and known as the Candidate, he is thrust back in time to the dawn of Western civilization in order to bear witness to a list of historical events. With time working against him as the Intersection Point closes in and determined to salvage his cherished, simple, safe, and sheltered family life, he must weave through history unnoticed and avoid losing himself in the process.