Welcome back for our second installment of “You are devoted to your fabulous kids and still you manage to write really beautiful novels? Holy Cats! Tell us how you do it!” Today we welcome a shining star in the Paranormal Literature World, Jen Nadol! Jen, please do tell us about yourself as a writer/parent.
I’ve written six novels. Three have sold (The Mark and The Vision, both available now from Bloomsbury and How It Ends, coming from Simon Pulse in late 2014/early 2015), two are in drawers (one forever, the other for the time being) and one is with my agent (I think its finished - she’ll tell me if I’m right). And I have three kids, all boys, who are almost-nine, seven and five – they’re in third grade, first grade and preschool respectively.
Ah, the drawer novels…if yours are anywhere near as intriguing and sharply written as The Mark and The Vision, here’s hoping they both see the light of day! So, did you write/publish before you had kids? If so, how did your writing schedule change once children were on the scene?
I wrote in a journal-y, when-I-feel-like-it kind of way before kids, but I never had a schedule because I never had any real plans for my writing. When I left work to stay home with my first son, I had this idea there’d be hours of free writing time while baby napped or played happily and so I should become a novelist like I’d always meant to. And then he was born and I realized those hours were filled with feeding and changing and soothing and feeding again and I’d have to squeeze writing into whatever spare minutes I could find. But by then, I’d already decided I was going to write a book so, damnit, that’s what I was going to do. I got really disciplined, really fast.
Do you get help from spouses/family members/babysitters?
When my first son was around four months old, I found a sitter who’d come twice a week for two and a half hours each time and that became my dedicated writing time. When sons two and three arrived and I had actual book contracts, I ramped up to as much as fifteen hours a week. Now that all but one of them are in school, I’m back down to five hours a week.
Do you have another paying gig in addition to writing and parenting?
Nope, this is it and I have immense admiration for those who juggle parenting, working and writing. They are superhuman.
Absolute truth. Now, what is the nuttiest thing you’ve done to occupy your kids so you could get some writing/revising done?
Extra game time. Which isn’t that nutty, except in the context that I’m kind of nutty about videogames to start with (my kids would say “crazy/totally unfair/mean”). House rule is that they’re each allowed fifteen minutes of game time on my iPhone per day. In a jam, I’ve let them have more. Needless to say, they LOVE when I’m under deadline...
Ha! Can you describe your current daily schedule, on an average day, involving juggling writing with your kids’ schedules?
Most days I get a solid two hours of work in while my youngest is in preschool. I sit down at the computer as soon as I’m back from drop-off and work up until pick up. Usually right up until pick-up (the teachers are going to be SO GLAD when I’m gone). Then, I squeeze in extra time at lessons/games/appointments (I almost always have my netbook or a printout of my current WIP with me) and the nights my husband’s away on work travel.
Do your kids’ teachers know you are a writer, and do you get involved with schooling via your writing/books somehow? (Presenting workshops, teaching a writing class, stuff like that?)
Yes, they do and no, I don’t...the teachers at my sons’ school are much better at teaching writing than I’d ever be!
What do your boys think about you being a writer? Are they annoyed all you do is type, are they at all impressed, is it just old hat to them?
I think their feelings are a combination of all those things. My oldest will sometimes ask questions about what I’m working on or offer suggestions. And I know he’s looked up my books and read the reviews on Amazon. So that’s kind of cool, even though it means he’s read the sucky reviews too.
Ever take the boys to signings, on tours? Do they get excited seeing your books in stores?
I’ve never taken them to an event, but when my first book came out, we went hunting for it together, which was neat...probably more for me than them.
Do your kids inspire specifics in your books?
Maybe they will, but so far none of my books have had kids this young in them so, no.
Do the boys know when you are revising, under deadline or other high-pressure situations - how do you not take the stress out on them (or a spouse) or does everyone just have to ride the storm?
My deadlines haven’t been a huge issue, but I’ve definitely felt good or bad book-related news affecting my mood and when I realize it, I try to explain so they get why I’m grumpy or happy. I think hearing about the bad news and reading downer reviews has actually helped my oldest understand that even grown-ups have less-than-stellar days and its not the end of the world (or, at least I tell myself this so I have a silver-lining...)
Best piece of advice you can give other parents who write, or are starting a writing career?
Be disciplined. Set aside writing time and write. Don’t waste your quiet/kid-free time on Facebook or twitter or blogs or the laundry/cleaning/errands. Write. And do all that other stuff later.
Perfectly put. Sounds easier than it is most days, and I agree completely. That discipline must be exercised. Jen Nadol, thank you so much for being here! I feel free to speak for myself and all your fans when I say we cannot wait to read How It Ends - and all your future work. You’ve got some lucky little boys. Happy parenting, and happy writing!
About The Mark:
Cassandra Renfield has always seen the mark—a glow around certain people reminiscent of candlelight. But the one time she mentioned it, it was dismissed as a trick of the light. Until the day she watches a man awash in the mark die. After searching her memories, Cassie realizes she can see a person’s imminent death. Not how or where, only when: today.
Armed with a vague understanding of the light, Cassie begins to explore her “gift,” seeking those marked for death and probing the line between decision and destiny. Though she’s careful to hide her secret—even from her new philosophy-obsessed boyfriend—with each impending death comes the temptation to test fate. But so many questions remain. How does the mark work? Why is she the only one who sees it? And finally, the most important of all: If you know today is someone’s last, should you tell them?
About The Vision:
Cassie Renfield knows the mark tells her when someone is going to die and that she can intervene and attempt to change fate. But she still doesn't understand the consequences, especially whether saving one life dooms another. With no family left to offer guidance, Cassie goes in search of others like her. But when she meets Demetria, a troubled girl who seems to have the power of the Fates, Cassie finds the truth isn't at all what she expected. And then there's her heady new romance with bad boy Zander. Dating him has much graver repercussions than Cassie could ever have imagined, forcing her to make choices that cut to the essence of who she is and what she believes.
Jen Nadol grew up in Reading, Pennsylvania, the hometown of John Updike, Taylor Swift, and the now-defunct Monopoly railroad. She has a BA in literature from American University and has lived in Washington DC, Boston, and New York City. She currently resides in a 150-year-old farmhouse in Westchester County, New York, with her husband and three young sons and is at work on her next two related novels. She has no paranormal abilities - and she's pretty happy about that. Visit her on the web at www.jennadolbooks.com.