Friday, September 23, 2011

Firsts Fridays: Debut Author, Jenn Johansson!

Don't forget to have some fun with Emily Rittel and I in the Killer Characters Blogfest. It'll be a scream!

Today’s Firsts Friday’s guest is not only celebrating her first book to be published. She’s doing it European style. That’s right, Jenn Johansson will be debuting her novel Insomnia Italy and Germany, but you don’t want to hear it from me. Let’s get to know Jenn and have her tell us:)
DB: Jenn, you are a doll for doing this interview. I know you must be crazy busy in the middle of edits so I thank you so much for being hereJ

JJ: Thanks for having me, Deana! I’m happy you asked me.

DB: Your debut novel Insomnia is going to be published in Italy and Germany. Can you tell the unknowing writers how that kind of deal happens and if and when it will make its way to the US?

JJ: I was one of those “unknowing writers” until this all happened to me, so of course! Basically it all comes back to literary scouts. I’d heard of them, but really had no clue what they did until one of them found my manuscript and loved it. Here is an in-depth version of the process, but the quick and dirty is: 1 -Most manuscripts on submission have been in the hands of a scout at one point or another. 2 - Scouts work for foreign publishers and recommend books they love to them. 3 - Within one week of a scout getting her (as she put it) “sticky scout fingers” on my MS, we were going to auction in Germany. 4 – Ahem, they can help…a lot.
Normally a book will sell in the U.S. first, and then whoever holds the foreign rights, will take it out and start submitting it in other countries. Going the opposite direction (as I have) is pretty rare (because I’m backwards like that), and it’s been a really wild ride, but I’ve loved every moment of it.

As far as a US deal goes, let’s just say that umm…things are in the works and I hope to have more news for you soon? I promise that as soon as I’m allowed to talk about things I will let you know on twitter and my blog.
DB: Oooo it all sounds so exciting. I think I will definitely stay tuned!

What has your journey been like from writing Insomnia until now and what more do you have left to do until the release date?
DB: Like many writers, my journey has been quite the roller-coaster ride and I don’t really see that changing any time soon. I am very excited for the new challenges as I move closer to the release dates and to the fun/daunting new task of working on a sequel that is actually under contract. Sometimes this whole ride is more than a little bumpy and sometimes makes me feel a little ill, to be honest, but I’d never have forgiven myself if I’d gotten off before I’d reached this point. The call, the contract, the offer—every step forward is worth a hundred steps back. Don’t give up. *fist pump*

DB: I’ll join in on that fist pumpJ
Another question for writers not in the know: word is, marketing is largely up to debut authors themselves. Are you finding that to be the case? And if so what are you doing to market yourself silly?

JJ: You know, I’m not really close enough yet to know what will be done in the way of marketing. My German publisher seems very willing to do marketing…but I plan to do everything I can think of to help. My degree/background is in marketing and I’m really looking forward to brainstorming all the ideas I can to help make this a success for me and my publishers. They are investing in me, and I feel like if I don’t give it my all, regardless of what they’re doing, then I’m failing both of us.
DB: I have a feeling you are going to do great!

Speaking of marketing, I’m sure telling us about the book can’t hurt; can you tell us about Insomnia?
JJ: I’d love to! Thanks for asking. INSOMNIA is a YA supernatural psychological thriller. It’d probably be clearest if I just show you the query. Besides, when I was querying, I was always intrigued to see queries and pitches that worked. So here it is:
Sixteen-year-old Parker spends every night trapped in the dreams of the last person he made eye contact with, and it’s killing him. He misses soccer practice, falls asleep at the wheel, and his mom thinks he has a drug problem. His exhaustion from never reaching the deeper levels of sleep is getting worse every day, and he knows his time is running out. Until he meets Mia.
 Mia’s dreams are the first Parker’s encountered where he can finally get real sleep. A good night of rest after so long is addictive. He has to have it. But getting it means he must follow Mia and find a way to make eye contact every day. Mia is increasingly freaked out, even turning Parker’s best friends against him.

When Mia starts to receive threatening e-mails, her wonderful dreams become scenes of a horror movie—and Parker is cast as the villain. He must discover who is truly tormenting her, and clear his name, before she turns him in for a crime he hasn’t committed–or worse, the true stalker makes good on his threats to end her dreams forever.

DB: No way! This makes me want to run out and get it right away! I’m seriously jealous of the European readers:) And thanks so much for sharing your query. I find reading them invaluable

What about your agent, Kathleen Rushall? She helped out with a blogfest of mine and I found her just wonderful! What kind of agent is she and how did you snag such a gem?

JJ: I think mostly, I was ridiculously freakin’ lucky. Kathleen is amazing and wonderful. She’s a cheerleader when I need one, and the guru who answers all my questions. My manuscript is so much better with all her recommendations. She’s a great communicator and really keeps me in the loop on everything that is happening…on top of all that, she’s hilarious.  To be honest, she is everything I never knew that I really wanted in an agent. If you haven’t queried her and you are querying, she should be at the top of your list. Seriously—the top. Go ahead. Move her to the top now. I can wait. *cue elevator music here*
DB: Good call Jenn, good call.
Last question…
I’m going to leave it open to you. Please tell us anything. Whether it be something fun, about your book, something silly. We want to get to know Jenn better. So what can you spill?
JJ: Wow, the freedom is kind of…intoxicating. Anything… I sing when I probably shouldn’t, dance when I definitely shouldn’t, and read at the most inconvenient of times--but not when I’m driving, despite what I’ve been accused of. My hair is quite twisted, some call it curly, but I often question if what goes on in my head somehow makes it come out all messed up. I am a very positive, happy person, but my books trend towards the dark and twisty. I’m a little scared of where I’d find an outlet for that side of me if I ever stopped writing, so for the sake of our society, I don’t plan to. That’s right people, I’m writing for your own safety. Don’t question it. Just read. :P
DB: In that case, Jenn, thanks so much for writing! I think I speak for everyone when I say it has been a blast getting to know you better.
Again, thanks so much! You are awesomeJ
JJ: Thank you, Deana! This was so fun. I loved your questions!
Okay, admit it people, you all are dying to get to know Jenn more. Well, what are you waiting for, go check her out HERE.
Until next time...
Keep learning. Keep writing.


Unknown said...

I love that you've gone backwards in the process! What a neat deal!!! I look forward to seeing it in the US but I wish you a ton of success in Germany and Italy!

Christa Desir said...

This is very cool. And I'd heard about this deal. Congrats! You have a great team behind you.

Sarah Tokeley said...

This book sounds amazing! Thanks for telling us about it.

Angela Cothran said...

Such an interesting process. Thanks for the interview.

Deana said...

Jen- I know, I thought it was a pretty cool way to do things. I can't wait until it makes it to the US either!

Christa, Sarah, and Angie- Thanks for stopping by!

Juliana L. Brandt said...

I came over to comment on the interview and then I saw my button on your page and it made me all sorts of happy! Haha, thanks for putting it up :)

And great interview, as always!

Melodie Wright said...

Wow - what a great interview! And the book sounds fab. Do let us know when that deal is inked!!

Emily R. King said...

Thanks for introducing me to Jenn. She's awesome! Another great interview, Deana. Good job!