Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Jennifer G. Edelson Author Interview


Photo Credit: Shoshanna Bettencourt

Jennifer G. Edelson is a writer, trained artist, former attorney, pizza lover, and hard-core Bollywood fan. She has a BFA in Sculpture and a J.D. in law and has taught both creative writing and legal research and writing at several fine institutions, including the University of Minnesota. Originally a California native, she currently resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico with her husband, kids, and dog, Hubble after surviving years in the Minnesota tundra. Other than writing, Jennifer loves hiking, traveling, Albert Camus, Dr. Seuss, dark chocolate, coffee, exploring mysterious places, and meeting new people—if you’re human (or otherwise), odds are she’ll probably love you.

        
  


Paperback: 414 pages
Publisher: Bad Apple Books (October 6, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1733514007
ISBN-13: 978-1733514002


Praise for BETWEEN WILD & RUIN

“What could be a corny premise turns into an exhilarating, fun ride in Edelson’s adept hands. Her characters are smartly drawn, and readers will easily identify with Ruby, a strong yet insecure young artist on the verge of adulthood, who is still recovering from her tragic past . . . Fans of Twilight and modern fairy tales will fall in love with Ruby and root for her eventual romance.” — Blue Ink Review (Starred Review)

“Between Wild and Ruin is a stunning story of legends, romance, and destiny with themes of starting over, small towns, beauty, and community . . . Edelson perfectly breathes new life in mythology by honoring the oral tradition of a small community and the ruins that bring to life Ruby's destiny.” — Manhattan Book Review

“Highly recommended to mature teens through new adult and adult audiences, this is a story that lingers in the mind long after its final revelation.” — Midwest Book Review

“A great addition to young adult urban fantasy.” — Seattle Book Review

“Descriptions of the New Mexico landscape are rich and atmospheric, arousing the senses with references to the scent of smoke and juniper, the predatory roar of mountain lions, and the brilliant dazzle of stars in the desert sky . . . The writing conveys a sense of timelessness, making it easy to believe Ruby’s sense that the land is spirit-haunted and that Leo, the handsome young man she encounters near the ruins, is somehow connected to it all.” — Clarion Forward

“An intriguing historical tale and an over-the-top love-quadrangle romance.” — Kirkus Reviews

“The paranormal aspects of the tale are credible and richly steeped in traditional lore, and the plot is finely crafted . . . Between Wild and Ruin is most highly recommended.” — Reader’s Favorite (5-Star Review)



What inspired you to pen your first novel?
After I graduated from law school, I clerked for a judge who off-handedly mentioned that all of my briefs read like creative short stories (during law school, my mentor when I interned for the U.S. Fed said the same thing!). He asked me if I’d ever considered writing a book and encouraged me to get on it. At that point, I was like, well, yeah, okay, maybe there’s something to this writing thing. So I sat down and tried writing a memoir about growing up in Los Angeles during what felt like a pretty iconic period, just to see if I could. That was my first book and I’m not really interested in publishing it, but it opened the floodgates. I discovered that I love creative writing fiercely and have been writing like a mad person ever since.

My inspiration for Between Wild and Ruin though, which is my debut published novel, and actually the seventh novel I’ve written, is more specific. I fell in love with the Glorieta Pass and the Pecos Pueblo here in northern New Mexico after exploring the area, and desperately wanted to write a story that took place there. I’m a place-centric person, and often fall for scenery, land, and the feel of a location, and end up wanting to write a novel about an area long before I figure out the plot or story. In that way, my story’s setting is often as much a character as the people, which is definitely the case in Between Wild and Ruin.

Tell us your latest news.
Aside from working on Between Wild and Ruin’s sequel, Wild Open Faces, I'm currently working with a publisher on a YA contemporary/sci-fi mashup I pitched as 'Pump Up the Volume' meets 'Close Encounters of a Third Kind.' On the side, I’ve also been working on a novel adaptation of one of my short-stories that took a first-place prize in fiction a couple years back, about a young woman who travels across the U.S. on a Greyhound bus robbing mini-marts (you can find that one on line HERE). Like Between Wild and Ruin, the story mostly takes place in New Mexico, and I guess I imagine it as this maybe-romantic, definitely gritty YA neo-western. Other than that, I've got another two books outlined and ready to go, and a ton of promotional work for Between Wild and Ruin to get ahead of.

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
My writing influences vary. I read A LOT, especially in the genre I most often write in, which is Young Adult fiction. But I've been in love with Albert Camus since college. His work inspires me; his writing, both his prose and the subjects he writes about, challenges me to examine meaning, to dig deeper when I write and when I interact with people. Vladimir Nabokov, Brett Easton Ellis, Heidi Julavits, Phillip Roth, and Chuck Palahniuk are also big writing influences, for many diverse, weird, and divergent reasons. Deeply flawed characters that still manage to capture and hold a reader’s interest, and stories that challenge notions of identity particularly interest me.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
It’s super rewarding to hop on Amazon or Goodreads and see new book reviews from strangers who really loved Between Wild and Ruin. I’ve got pretty thick skin, so I’m not terribly offended when people don’t love the book, but it is thrilling and definitely rewarding knowing something about the story really strikes a chord with people. Ultimately, for me at least, that’s what it’s all about. I write because I love writing, but I’m not going to lie and say I don’t want other people to love my writing too. Personally, I adore reading; reading a good book is the best kind of escapism. So it means a lot to me knowing I managed to return the favor where my readers are concerned.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
I’m not sure I’m trying to communicate a message as much as a feeling. That exciting, sometimes breathless moment that comes from experiencing ‘firsts’ and facing the unknown. Of connecting over unexpected emotions, and backgrounds, and alliances, not to mention the rollercoaster that comes with being in love. A few reviewers mentioned how sensory and atmospheric Between Wild and Ruin’s writing is, that they could see, smell, and hear everything as they read, and that because of it, were right there in the Glorieta Pass with Ruby throughout the story. I agree and hope readers find themselves immersed in a story that wholly transports them both emotionally and intellectually to the heart of La Luna, New Mexico, and into Ruby’s unique world. Of course I’d also love it, if the story made readers wonder more about big picture things. But if all people ever get from Between Wild and Ruin is a few fun hours of enjoyable reading — if all the book is for people is super effective escapism — I’ll still be really happy.

In your debut novel; BETWEEN WILD & RUIN, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it.
Set against a Northern New Mexico backdrop, Between Wild and Ruin is a young adult paranormal romance-slash-coming of age story that captures the wild and whimsical pulse of New Mexico, through the eyes of its characters Ruby Brooks, Angel Ruiz, and Ezra Lucero. The first book in the Wild and Ruin series, Between Wild and Ruin explores the time-tested credo ‘never judge a book by its cover’ through a paranormal lens, weaving Puebloan, Mexican, and Hispanic folklore and Southwest cultural narratives into tightly written, high-concept fiction ‘brimming with mystery, intrigue,’ and as Kirkus Reviews puts it, an “intriguing historical drama and an over-the top quadrangle romance.”

I’m a bit of a (wannabe) armchair philosopher, and I really tried to subtly question concepts like ‘truth,’ ‘meaning,’ and ‘reality’ throughout the plot. Ultimately, I also wanted the book’s characters to be walking around wondering, “Who am I really?” in a way that caught my readers up in the mystery just as thoroughly. In that vein, on its face at least, Between Wild and Ruin is also a bit of a Beauty and the Beast story. In fact a lot of readers have drawn parallel references to that specific fairytale.

I’ll include the copy from the book’s back jacket below, but rather than give the plot away, I’ll just sum up the rest by saying that the book’s title is pretty apt. Overall, the story is as much about wild spaces, feelings, and people, as it is plot-driven. Plus the plot involves an old pueblo ruin. And Ruby and Ezra are caught between choices about their lives, the nature of reality, and each other, that could literally lead to ruin.

FROM THE BACK JACKET COPY
Truth, like love, isn't always obvious.

Seventeen-year-old Ruby Brooks has never had a boyfriend. After moving to small-town La Luna, New Mexico following her mother’s untimely death, boys aren’t even on her radar. Ruby just wants to forget the last horrible year and blend in. But when she discovers an ancient pueblo ruin in the forest behind her house, and meets Ezra, a bitter recluse whose once-perfect face was destroyed in an accident he won’t talk about; Angel, La Luna’s handsome sheriff’s deputy, and Leo, a stranger who only appears near the ruin, Ruby finds herself teetering between love, mystery, and other worlds. What happened to Ezra’s face? And why is she so attracted to the one boy in town everyone despises? As Ruby unravels her own connections to both Ezra and the pueblo ruin, she’ll learn surfaces are deceiving. Especially in the heart of New Mexico, where spirits and legends aren’t always just campfire stories.

What part of Ruby did you enjoy writing the most?
Even now, as I finish the sequel, I’m still getting to know Ruby. We’re still growing together. So this may change. But overall, I really enjoyed experiencing being in such a fantastical situation with her; discovering her quirks and flushing out how she reacted to the unexpected, not to mention how strong she is when it comes to sticking to her laurels. But the romance is my favorite part of the book, and I 100% loved falling in love for the first time with her. Fleshing Ruby out as a wholly independent person in relation to the males in her life, and in the context of her eventual romance, was, and still is, my absolute favorite part of developing her character.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I’ve written numerous books and short stories, and in more than half of them I’ve really fallen for my characters. But if we’re talking Between Wild and Ruin, then oh my gosh, I’d LOVE to introduce Ezra to any number of Christina Lauren’s characters. I think one of the reasons the love story in Between Wild and Ruin works so well for people, is because the writer (me!) is absolutely smitten with Ezra. But because Ezra is confined to a young adult world, I’m less at liberty to flesh him out in ways I might in a ‘grown up’ love story. I love almost all of Christina Lauren’s female and male protagonists from across the spectrum because they’re usually smart, savvy, self-sufficient badasses who have their #$@! together, so it’d be hard to pick just one character from just one book. But if I were to pair Ezra with any one of them, aside from relishing seeing Ezra in what I’ll just nicely say are more ‘adult’ situations, I’d love to see how they’d all react and relate to a flawed and enigmatic, but equally strong male like Ezra.

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
You are good enough. Trust yourself. And remember, you’re the best friend you’ll ever have. Don’t ever take advantage of that relationship.

Best date you've ever had?
Hmmmm . . . I’ve been lucky enough to have gone on a lot of great dates, so this one is harder to answer. Also, my husband will probably read this so in the interest of marital harmony, I should probably answer smartly. So — a couple months after I started dating my husband, he took me up to Northern Minnesota to visit an inactive mine where he was working with the University of Minnesota’s physics department on a neutrino experiment deep underground. After we toured the mine, we spent the weekend with one of his friends at a log cabin compound in the woods by a lake. It was a beautiful but crisp Spring weekend, and my then boyfriend now husband (who’s brain I’d become entirely smitten with that weekend), and I, slept in an open-air cabin under a zillion blankets that made us feel like we were roughing it in the tundra. One night we were outside around a bonfire, and in-between talking physics and the universe, my now-husband leaned over the campfire and mouthed that he loved me. It was the first time he said it, so I wondered if I imagined it. But when I asked him later that night, he confirmed he did. That night, but the whole weekend really, was pretty magical.

What's the worst summer job you've ever had?
Probably being a hostess at a coffee shop called Pages in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley that’s now long gone. It sucked! I waited on a lot of famous people who were total monsters. On the flip side, the coffee shop was also the setting for a couple of scenes in Brett Easton Ellis’ novel Less Than Zero, which had been released a few years prior, and some of the graffiti Ellis mentions in the book was actually still there on the bathroom walls. I was really into the book at the time, so my teenaged brain was really dazzled by it.

If you could go back in time to one point in your life, where would you go?
I tend to think that all the things I’ve gone through taught me something or another, and that going back or doing something differently would sort of be like looking a gift horse in the mouth. Theoretically, there are a lot of things in my life I’d change or do differently, but in actuality I’d probably never risk losing the things I have now that I love. So rather than plunge the depths of my would-have should-have arsenal — and trust me it’s there — I’ll just pick one of my various trips abroad. Narrowing it down, I might go with my last trip to Tokyo. I was in kind of funk last time I visited Japan, and I’d love to go back, hit reset, and knock myself into a better mood so I could appreciate the city more in that moment, then in hindsight.

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before?

True love. Every time. I’m a sucker for love and equally unapologetic about how much of a sniveling baby I am when it doesn’t work out. What’s the saying? “It’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.” Yep, I’m all about that.

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today?
I was a super difficult teenager. As in, really x a thousand difficult. I was also uber sensitive in this very lonely ‘who am I, what’s the meaning of life’ way. Because of that, I spent way too much time looking for ‘answers’ and ignoring consequences. There’s this quote by Albert Camus that goes: “You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” Though I take it with a grain of salt, getting older and looking back at what felt so permanent at the time but wasn’t, has better enabled me to take ideas like this to heart. So though I still spend a good amount of time thinking about meaning, perspective has been a lifesaver. Still, the stuff that’s lingered . . . I know as well today as I did back then, that those feelings are not only part of the human condition, but a condition (maybe rightfully) endemic to teenagers everywhere. I still feel it, and it’s really informed everything I write. It’s also partly why I love writing in the YA genre. Most adults don’t give kids and teens enough credit for being the smart, savvy, sensitive, and super creative people they truly are. I acknowledge that, and I like writing stories that both resonates with them AND respects those feelings.

What’s the most ridiculous fact you know?
Volume-wise, all the matter that makes up the human race could fit into a lump of silly putty. In other words, an atom’s nucleus is relatively empty; it’s made of 99.9999999999999 percent empty space. So if you reduced every human on Earth to their most basic components, and then squished all those components into a blob, you’d end up for real with a smaller than palm-sized lump of material. Weird. Ridiculous. Mind blown.

TEN FAVORITE READS EVER
(P.S. This one is super hard because I have A LOT of favorites, so I’m taking liberties here and making it a baker’s dozen J)
  • 1. The Plague — Albert Camus
  • 2. An American Tragedy — Theodore Dreiser
  • 3. American Pastoral — Phillip Roth
  • 4. American Psycho — Brett Easton Ellis
  • 5. Tie between Invitation to a Beheading and Bend Sinister — Vladimir Nabokov
  • 6. Pride and Prejudice — Jane Austen
  • 7. Weathering Heights — Emily Bronte
  • 8. Beautiful Bastard — Christina Lauren
  • 9. Tie between The Bean Trees and Animal Dreams— Barbara Kingsolver
  • 10. All the Bright Places — Jennifer Niven
  • 11. Where She Went (The sequel to If I Stay) — Gayle Foreman
  • 12. Outlander — Diana Gabaldon
  • 13. I Was Amelia Earhart — Jane Mendelsohn

Truth, like love, isn't always obvious.

Seventeen-year-old Ruby Brooks has never had a boyfriend. After moving to small-town La Luna, New Mexico following her mother’s untimely death, boys aren’t even on her radar. Ruby just wants to forget the last horrible year and blend in. But when she discovers an ancient pueblo ruin in the forest behind her house, and meets Ezra, a bitter recluse whose once-perfect face was destroyed in an accident he won’t talk about; Angel, La Luna’s handsome sheriff’s deputy, and Leo, a stranger who only appears near the ruin, Ruby finds herself teetering between love, mystery, and other worlds. What happened to Ezra’s face? And why is she so attracted to the one boy in town everyone despises? As Ruby unravels her own connections to both Ezra and the pueblo ruin, she’ll learn surfaces are deceiving. Especially in the heart of New Mexico, where spirits and legends aren’t always just campfire stories.

 

Set against a Northern New Mexico backdrop, Between Wild and Ruin is a young adult coming-of-age story that captures the wild and whimsical pulse of New Mexico through the eyes of teens Ruby Brooks, Angel Ruiz, and Ezra Lucero. The first book in the Wild and Ruin series, Between Wild and Ruin explores the time-tested credo ‘never judge a book by its cover’ through a paranormal lens, weaving Puebloan and Hispanic folklore and Southwest cultural narratives into tightly written, high-concept fiction ‘brimming with mystery, intrigue,’ and as Kirkus Reviews puts it, an “intriguing historical drama and an over-the top quadrangle romance.”

You can purchase Between Wild & Ruin at the following Retailers:
        

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you JENNIFER G. EDELSON for making this giveaway possible.

1 Winner will receive an Exclusive Swag Bag from Jennifer G. Edelson.
WEEK ONE - INTERVIEWS/GUEST POSTS
DECEMBER 2nd MONDAY BookHounds YA INTERVIEW 
DECEMBER 3rd TUESDAY Wishful Endings INTERVIEW 
DECEMBER 4th WEDNESDAY JeanBookNerd INTERVIEW 
DECEMBER 5th THURSDAY A Dream Within A Dream EXCERPT
DECEMBER 5th THURSDAY Stephanie's Life of Determination REVIEW & GUEST POST
DECEMBER 6th FRIDAY Gwendalyn's Books REVIEW

WEEK TWO - REVIEWS
DECEMBER 9th MONDAY Insane About Books REVIEW 
DECEMBER 10th TUESDAY Book Queen Reviews REVIEW
DECEMBER 11th WEDNESDAY TTC Books and More REVIEW
DECEMBER 12th THURSDAY Casia's Corner REVIEW
DECEMBER 12th THURSDAY Crossroad Reviews REVIEW
DECEMBER 13th FRIDAY Movies, Shows, & Books REVIEW

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