You didn’t hear it here first, but you’ve heard it here. As an occasional series, I’d like to spotlight some women who blaze trails for girls like my daughters. It’s a beautiful age we live in. A girl can do anything she sets her mind to.
Meet author Jennie Davenport. Yes, she’s a Denver Broncos fan, but that’s just a bonus. Jennie writes a compelling blend of romance, paranormal and retelling of fairy tales. Jennie’s introspection and ability to find light in darkness, and find it within herself.
CD: What did you think you’d grow up to be when you were a little girl?
JD: When I was LITTLE little, I always thought I would be a teacher when I grew up. I was always playing school with my siblings and friends. Then when I got a little older, the only thing I could think of that actually sparked my fancy was singing. Let’s just say it’s a good thing I stumbled upon my love of writing later in life, because I think it’s even harder to make it in the music industry than it is in the publishing world. And that’s saying a lot.
JD: I always knew I loved playing with words and creating stories. But my passion wasn’t truly realized until after I had my first son, and I was a new stay-at-home mom with a baby. I didn’t work anymore, and I knew if I didn’t get a hobby, I’d lose myself. So that’s how it started: a hobby. I had a story in mind I’d wanted to tell for a long time. So, I sat at my computer and wrote it. After writing the first chapter, I knew it was more than a hobby–this is what I had to be doing with my life. It wasn’t until six months later, and with one completed novel under my belt, that I even told anyone I had started writing. Not even my family knew.
CD: What’d they think? And what was the story about?
JD: When they first found out, they were impressed. They hadn’t expected it at all. But my story was a contemporary romance, and I wasn’t confident in my abilities yet, so I didn’t let anyone read it for a long time. When they did, they were very nice and supportive, regardless of the fact that it was terrible (which is why family members make ineffective beta readers). It’s okay though; that book was a guinea pig, and it will never see the light of day.
CD: Never ever? Not even for, like, a million dollars, or lifetime sweet potato fries at Denver Biscuit Company?
JD: Ah, I love that you referenced my favorite sweet potato fries! For those, maybe. But it would have to endure a very extensive round of edits first.
CD: What are some of the challenges you face as a writer?
JD: Time is the first one that comes to mind. Balancing a life with family and work, while trying to keep writing a priority. And sleep, too. Sometimes you have to choose what you want more: a chapter edited, or sleep. There are many other challenges, too, one of which includes not being taken seriously. It’s hard to be taken seriously when people find you’re just another writer trying to make it in the publishing world. We have a stigma of being pretentious, or lazy, or entitled. The biggest challenge is proving that stereotype wrong. Lastly, I’ll mention that for me, personally, one of my biggest challenges has been coming to terms with the fact that I’m never, ever going to please everyone. You can try you’re damnedest to write according to what everyone else would like, but no matter how hard you try, there will always be someone disappointed in the direction you’re taking. So, not being able to accept that it’s okay to write what YOU want can be a quite a hindrance. But once you’ve embraced it, it’s totally freeing. That being said, it’s different for a lot of people. Gender, upbringing, race, religion, etc. can play a big role in the whole breaking-out-of-your mold thing.
CD: What would you say played the biggest roles in your writing voice? And how would you describe your own writing voice?
JD: That’s another tough one to answer. Because, honestly, one of the biggest roles in my writing voice has just been the big ol’ Trial and Error. Writing things, rewriting things–feeling out what works and what doesn’t. It took time and practice for me to find my niche. My writing voice might come naturally to me now, but it wasn’t always like that. Senior editor, Pat Walsh (author of 78 REASONS WHY YOUR BOOK MAY NEVER BE PUBLISHED & 14 REASONS WHY IT JUST MIGHT) talks about how you have to work for your talent, and that writing is a craft you must learn; I was determined to prove that to myself. So what were the big roles in my writing voice? Time, practice, dibbling in different writing styles, and of course, reading a lot of books–until I found my voice. I don’t know how to describe my writing voice other than it’s always very introspective, reflective, and, when I want it to be, eloquent.
CD: What influence has your dad had on you?
JD: Other than passing along his bad temper to me? I think more than anything, my dad has had an influence on my independence and how to be responsible. We had a great relationship growing up, too–and still do. That daddy-daughter love has come to my mind many times when writing different character relationships.
CD: What else should we know about you before we let you go?
JD: I’m not sure there’s anything else you should know about me, but I will say I worked really darn hard to get where I’m at. What you should know isn’t about me, but about life and your dreams in general. What you should do is never give up on the things that make you happy. I can’t emphasize that enough. As a young girl, teen, and then a young woman–and even as an adult–finding myself was a trial. An excruciating, life-long trial. I’ve had to go through some of the toughest–yet some of the most beautiful–things to get where I’m at. But writing was one of the things to push me in the direction of finding my independence and who I am. It frees me. It is me. And no matter what, never give up doing the things that run passionately through your veins. When life, lack of patience, and lack of time try getting in the way of whatever it is you’re passionate about, FIGHT through it. Fight for your happiness. Fight for what you love, and fight for you.