National Novel Writing Month Author Interview – Jennifer Kelland Perry

Dreaming about writing a novel? NaNoWriMo is a great chance to get your book idea going. During the month of November, aspiring and published authors from around the world have committed to writing 50,000 words in thirty days.

Jennifer Kelland Perry

Today we welcome NaNoWriMo published author Jennifer Kelland Perry, whose book Calmer Girls was part of a NaNoWriMo challenge.

Thank you for joining us, Jennifer!

How many years have you participated in NaNoWriMo? First of all, thank you for inviting me for this interview. I’m truly honored to be here. I have taken part in NaNoWriMo three times since 2013. The first two times, I worked on the Calmer Girls series, a duology. I successfully reached the word count of 50,000 words with both. The third and most recent time I participated was in 2016, where I didn’t reach the goal – life and a bad flu bug got in the way – but I did write 29,000 words. So even though I didn’t “win” that year, I have since finished the novel, the first in a speculative fiction trilogy. That book is now in prepublication.

How did you first hear about or get started with NaNoWriMo? I first heard of it when I started my WordPress blog nearly ten years ago. When I followed other writers, I learned about the challenge and became familiar with it. I couldn’t resist giving it a go.

Will you be participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Yes, and I’m looking forward to it. I hope to complete the first draft of my trilogy’s second instalment.

Your first book, Calmer Girls began as a NaNoWriMo project. Can you tell us more about how you got started? Actually, I’d already started Calmer Girls, but I thought NaNoWriMo would give me the extra discipline and focus to finish the first draft. And it did!

Calmer Girls is set in St. John’s, a city in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, where you were born and lived until 2010. How did you incorporate local places into your story? Do you also write about other places? I believe in writing about what you know, more particularly when it comes to setting. It was a lot of fun to write about the capital city of St. John’s, my birthplace. It’s a colourful backdrop for my books, as it has been for many local authors. But I’ve also lived in several rural areas of the province, so it was easy to incorporate that into my writing as well.

What was your process of editing and preparing your NaNoWriMo manuscript for publication? I can’t speak for other writers, but editing is a whole different experience compared to getting a rough draft down. I spend much more time adding, revising, and polishing. And then there is the time spent researching and querying – the list goes on.

What is your favorite method of writing – pen (or pencil) and paper or a computer? Why? Banging away on the laptop is my preferred method because it’s faster and easier for me than handwriting. Supplementing that are tons of notes I’ve jotted down in a notebook or on my phone whenever inspiration strikes.

What’s the most important part of your writing ritual (e.g., what kind of music do you listen to, favorite snack when writing, motivational quotes, etc.)? My ritual is quite boring, really. I only need three things: a quiet space at my desk, a couple of cups of coffee, and one of my bulky turtleneck sweaters. The sweaters keep me cozy and warm when I’m sitting still for extended periods. Oh, here’s a tip (more than a ritual) that helps me: when you finish writing for the day, leave off somewhere good in a scene, so you can jump right in the next day without missing a beat. For momentum, I find it works better than starting off with a new scene.

Are you an early bird writer or a night owl? For first drafts, early mornings are crucial. My pesky inner critic doesn’t wake up until after lunch! For editing and revising, any time of the day will do. I rarely write any fiction at night.

Are you a pantser or a planner? I used to think I was a pantser because I didn’t write a firm outline. Then I realized I’d planned the bulk of the storyline in my head. Nowadays I create semi-fluid outlines, because in the past my characters have sometimes pushed me to deviate from the original plot. It feels necessary to plot a trilogy that way.

What challenges have you faced as a writer? The biggest challenge I’ve faced so far has been the pandemic. It distracted me from writing in 2020, but thankfully I’m back on course. I did use the time to read a lot more.

What makes you want to continue participating in NaNoWriMo? My two-out-of-three success rate? Seriously, I find the word count and deadline motivating. At the same time, I don’t allow myself to feel unduly pressured.

What authors or books have inspired you to write your own stories? Oh, far too many to list here. However, several futuristic works inspired my current project.

Do you have any advice for first-time NaNoWriMo participants? If you don’t have a plotted outline, at least have a rough idea what you will write about by envisioning key scenes. Character development is also vital. And remember to have fun with it!

Jennifer Kelland Perry is a blogger, devoted reader and animal lover from Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. She holds a Creative Writing diploma, Office and Administration certificate, Native Studies certificate and is the author of two novels, Calmer Girls and Calmer Secrets, published on Amazon. Jennifer is a member of the Writers’ Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador and took part in the Literary Events NL Book Tours of 2017 and 2018. In the city, Jennifer worked in banking and now enjoys a life by the sea in Newtown, Bonavista Bay with her husband and one very spoiled cat.

Jennifer loves to connect with her readers here.

About NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month began in 1999 as challenge to write 50,000 words of a novel in thirty days. Now, each year on November 1, hundreds of thousands of people around the world begin to write, determined to end the month with 50,000 words of a brand-new novel. NaNoWriMo, a nonprofit organization since 2006, supports writing fluency and education. Their website hosts more than a million writers, serving as a social network with author profiles, personal project libraries, and writing buddies.

NaNoWriMo Programs and Links from Chester County Library and the Henrietta Hankin Branch.

It’s not too late to get started with NaNoWriMo! Click here for resources, tips, information about our month-long Write-Ins, and a free virtual Writer’s Emergency Kit.

11 thoughts on “National Novel Writing Month Author Interview – Jennifer Kelland Perry

  1. Reblogged this on Book Club Mom and commented:

    Hi Everyone, Take a look at this NaNoWriMo interview with Jennifer Kelland Perry. Jennifer graciously agreed to be interviewed for our library’s blog. Like many other authors, Jennifer is preparing to write a new book as part of next month’s NaNoWriMo challenge. Best wishes to Jennifer!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh my gosh, I know! I just updated my iPhone to iOS 15 and there’s a new feature called Focus (part of Do Not Disturb) – I think I’ll be using that a lot to get away from the distractions of my phone 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Barbara, I am always interested to read about other people’s writing journeys and I especially enjoy reading their thoughts on NaNoWriMo. I don’t think attempting to write in the form necessary for this challenge would be remotely doable for me. I am just too much of a perfectionist and I go down research holes too often for too long to make this possible. I like to hear how it is for others.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Robbie – I’m glad you enjoyed this interview with Jennifer. It’s fun to read about other authors and their writing experiences. We look forward to sharing more interviews during the month of November. Best wishes to you!

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Thank you for reading, Roberta. I remember the first time thinking I would never be able to reach such a goal, and I was very surprised when I did. Of course, it was a rough draft and still required plenty more writing, research and polishing.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Rebecca, I almost missed your lovely comment. So sorry.
      The blank page can be a big deterrent for writing, but NaNo eliminates that fear by motivating you to get that first draft down in a hurry. This quote sums it up well: “Every first draft is perfect because all the first draft has to do is exist.”

      Liked by 1 person

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