Welcome, J. Andersen. Thanks for sharing a part of yourself with us.
There’s not much to do growing up in a small town in Western, NY, so J. Andersen wrote stories and won high school writing contests. But in college her writing was limited to term papers. While teaching middle school she began to read young adult books and got serious about writing. She now writes full time, volunteers at the town library, helps to run a School of the Arts at her church, and sings in the church band. She enjoys good coffee—read: home roasted by her husband—crafts, baking, and chasing after her children. You’ll rarely see J. without a book in her hands, and that’s the way she’d like to keep it.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Well, if you ask my mom, who found a elementary writing assignment called “Marvelous Me”, I wanted to be a writer since the third grade when I wrote my first book called, Harry the Frog. After that, I remember saying I wanted to write a book when I was twelve, but I never wrote much more than short stories until I began teaching middle school and was reading what the students read. Then the bug really hit. Now I stay at home, raise my kiddos and write.
What genre(s) do you write?
YA always. As subgneres: Dystopian and Contemporary
How many books have you written and how many of those have been published?
Let’s see, I have 1 contemporary published: At What Cost
1 contemporary with my agent: Wait
1 contemporary in the works: Dear Daughter
I have 1 dystopian published: The Breeding Tree
1 dystopian contracted with the same publishing house: BOOK 2 of The Breeding Tree
And 1 dystopian waiting: Impact: BOOK 3 of The Breeding Tree
I also have 1.5 that will never see the light of day and probably shouldn’t even be mentioned. So that’s 7.5.
How many hours a day do you devote to writing?
It varies per day. Honestly, I go more for the week. Actual writing time, I try for 1-4 hour long sprints. I’ve discovered sprints work well for me. Focused writing in short spurts. The rest of the time is spent, editing, planning, marketing, etc.
What’s more important: character or plot?
Can you actually separate the two? I think they both influence each other so much that picking just one as important doesn’t work. I’ve found with this book I’m working on now, I didn’t know the character, so I couldn’t really figure out the plot because I didn’t know how she’d react to situations.
What is the hardest part of writing?
The actual writing. I’m a much better editor. Once I have a chunk of work to pick at, I’m good, but getting it down that first time is like yanking out all my hair one strand at a time.
What does your family think of your writing?
My mom and dad are proud. My son told me The Breeding Tree was the best book he’d ever read and he wasn’t just saying that because I was his mom. My daughter wants to be an author. My hubs is very supportive. My extended family thinks it’s cool to know a real author, but I think at the same time they all wonder what really goes on in my head!
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Read, binge watch Netflix, teach essential oil classes, work with kids at our church’s School of the Arts where we form youth bands, spend time with family.
What authors do you like to read?
Pretty much anyone who writes YA. I like Laurie Halse Anderson and Neal Shusterman, but I have discovered that there are some amazing stories written by authors who haven’t contracted with the Big 5. Many of these are my friends like Kelly Martin and Brenda Baker.
Do you have future projects in mind?
Always. I have a book of one liners or ideas to keep me busy for a while.
What is your favorite genre to read?
Do you write every day?
I wish. I have a toddler at home. If I can get a few hours a week in, I’m doing well.
How did your writing journey begin?
I was reading what my students were reading and kept thinking that I could write as good if not better than some of the authors with books on my shelf. So I gave it a go.
How do you deal with writer’s block?
Push through it. I get stuck often. I have to keep myself writing. Sometimes just talking things out with a few writer-ly type people helps. I’ve been cranking away at a manuscript that has been giving me fits! I’m a planner, and I couldn’t see where this manuscript was going. Finally, after brainstorming with a few friends, I have new vision and direction. I’m excited to write again.
What’s the best thing about being a writer?
The coffee. Lol. No really, I love making my own schedule. I write when I want to and don’t when I don’t. I get to sit around and create things all day. How cool is that?
What motivates you to write?
Readers who love my work. Every once in a while I’ll get a message or a post on Facebook saying how much they loved my book. That gets me going every time! I think it’s true for all authors, so if you love a book, let the author know!
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Don’t give up. Keep writing and keep learning about writing. I think we get stuck in the “I’m a writer, so I know how to write” mode. There is always something new to learn or try in our own work.
Places to connect with this author:
Snapchat ID: jvdlandersen
Is the opportunity to create the next generation of life a dream come true or a deadly nightmare?
When seventeen year old Katherine Dennard is selected to become a “Creation Specialist” in Sector 4, the opportunity sounds like a dream come true. But Kate soon discovers the darker side of her profession – the disposal of fetal organs and destruction of human life. It makes sense, really. In a society where disease and malformations don t exist, human perfection demands that no genetic “mutants” be allowed to live. For Sector 4, “survival of the fittest” is not just a theory – it’s The Institute’s main mission.
When Kate discovers that The Institute is using her DNA to create new life, her work gets personal. In order to save her unviable son, she’ll have to trust Micah and his band of underground Natural Born Rebels. The problem is, if The Institute discovers her betrayal, the next body being disposed of could be hers.