Q. and A. Interview with the Authors (Jennae and Janneke)

 

#1  Q: How did you meet and become friends?

  A:

  Janneke:  When I was really young, I remember recognizing Jennae in passing at different school events.  One of the first steps of friendship occurred when we played together at Chuck E Cheese’s.  I can’t even remember how old we were.

  Jennae: I was around Janneke now and then growing up. I think we played together some, but were more acquaintances than friends. I think when we started to become close was at a basketball game where we randomly decided to stand together and talk. It turned out to be a really good heart to heart, and after that it was plain that we were friends.

 

#2  Q: How did your interest in writing start and what kind of writing experience do you have?

  A:

  Jennae: I don’t remember when I began to enjoy writing. It seems like it has always been a part of me. As a kid, I loved to read. I loved the world of the imaginary. I made up stories in my head. Writing them down became a way to remember them, and it gradually became my favorite hobby. The more I wrote, the more confidence I gained in my ability.

In 2010 I had the honor of spending a week at a writing camp hosted by John R. Erickson, author of the Hank the Cowdog series. This experience had a profound influence on my writing. It laid a good foundation and encouraged me tremendously.

Since then I have become the author of a children’s book titled Happy Birthday, Pink Dog. I enjoy writing for children, and I hope you will enjoy my work.

  Janneke:  I enjoyed writing stories when I was younger, about 13 years old, but I never had a clue to form storylines so I would always get tired of it and eventually stop.  After reading over some of my attempted works, I decided that I just wasn’t meant to be a writer.  But years later I half-heartedly joined a writing group my friends were putting together, and there my interest in writing was re-awakened and I began learning tips and points on writing.  I even placed 3rd in a writing contest the group held.

  As far as real experience, I took a writing course my senior year and learned an immense amount.  I wrote lots of reports, creative writing exercises, short stories, etc.  One of the things that came along with the reports was research – something I wasn’t all that motivated to do at first, but I soon became fascinated with it and good thing, too, because writing We Will Remember Paul has required a TON of research.

 

#3  Q: Why did you choose the Civil War era for the setting in We Will Remember Paul?

  A:

  Jennae: I don’t really remember!

  Janneke:  I think that came to be when Jennae was asking me what We Will Remember Paul was going to be about.  One of her questions was, “What year will it be set in?” and I said, “During the Civil War!”

 

#4  Q: How did you come up with the names for your two main characters?

  A:

  Janneke: I wrote out a few of my favorite ‘old-fashioned’ names to choose from, it but wasn’t very hard for me because I have always loved the name Amanda and it fit so well with the era.  I confess I cheated on her last name.  I knew that if I spent too much time mulling over finding the ‘perfect’ name, it would never sound right (because I would always be second-guessing).  So, for her last name, I picked up a book with information regarding the Civil War and chose the first option I laid eyes on…and my character was born: Amanda Mills.

Jennae: Lavinia is not a name you hear a lot, but I remember reading it in a school book and liking it. I wanted something a little out of the ordinary for my character. Sometimes I feel like I am just using the same names over and over, so it was nice to use something different.

 

#5  Q: What is your reason for choosing the particular states where Lavinia and Amanda live?

   A:

  Jennae: I think I chose Boston rather arbitrarily, but during the time period of our book, Boston was a center of anti-slavery sentiment, and that turned out to be an appropriate place to put the “northern cousin”.

  Janneke Well, everyone knows that Virginia played a huge role in the Civil War.  I’d read about Gordonsville and was intrigued by this small town.  Because railroads ran through it, the little place became quite the key location during the war.  It seemed to make sense for my southern character to live there.  I wanted her to live in a quiet spot yet someplace that was still very much affected as the war occurred.

 

#6  Q: So…there were two of you working on one story – was it difficult to do? 

  A:

  Jennae: I have always struggled with writing alongside other people, but to my surprise this was not difficult to do with Janneke. Part of it could be our personalities and the dynamics of our friendship, but I believe the main reason for this is because we each had control of our own character. We left each other free to do what we chose with our own characters and their lives. When there were crossover characters, it took a little more sorting out at times, but we managed this without a lot of trouble. There were a few times when we had different ideas about how things should happen, but we usually came up with a compromise that was better than either of our individual ideas.

  Janneke: It was not difficult.  We had the general plot and storyline decided on, but for the day to day letters between Amanda and Lavinia, we pretty much made it up as we went along.  Jennae would write a letter and email it to me; then I would respond to whatever was going on in ‘her’ life and add whatever was happening in ‘mine’. Everything fell into place and, very surprisingly, things which we simply threw in for fun ended up tying into the story and forming mini-plots that we hadn’t originally thought of.

 

 #7  Q:  What were the writing sessions like?

  A:

  Jennae: We took turns writing…

  Janneke: And when we actually got together to do a little session in person there was lots and lots of laughter and joking.  We got to know our characters really well through just talking about them.  And laughing about them.  And voicing completely random alternate endings which were hilarious only because we knew the character’s personalities.  Some of the most ingenious ideas for our story were created during those writing sessions.

 

#8  Q: Did you write about your characters based on who you are? 

  A:

  Janneke: Ha! No!  Well, I mean there are some ways they are like us, but overall they are quite different!  At times it was hard to write because often Amanda’s thoughts or feelings and observations were actually the opposite of mine.

  Jennae: We wrote what we knew, and I believe that in a sense our characters matured as we matured, but no, we did not base them on ourselves.

 

#9  Q: Are there any specific way they are like you then?

  A: 

  Jennae: Lavinia is a social butterfly. She thrives on being with people and loves to make new acquaintances, just as I do. We are both prone to lead, and we are loyal to our friends.

 Janneke Amanda’s personality is on the shy side and I tend to be that way, too, at least with people I don’t really know.  Amanda and I are more animated with our friends and acquaintances and we are eager to please people.  We both enjoy exploring in the woods and going to dances.

 

#10  Q: How are they unlike you?

  A:

  Jennae: Well…the more I think about it, the harder it is to find an answer to this one! I think it is mostly that she goes at life with more confidence. She has been raised at the top of society, so she has little fear and has no problem telling people how they should live or how she disagrees.

  Janneke: Well…Amanda does not look like me, but I don’t suppose that really counts as an answer.  Ummm…she is more even-tempered.  She also has a very small family (one brother) which is not at all like me.

 

#11  Q: Are any characters in We Will Remember Paul based on people you know?

  A:

  Janneke:  Yes!  Amanda has a friend, Juliet, who is based on Jennae’s sister, Julia.  

 

#12  Q: What is Paul’s favorite color?

  A:

  Janneke: Well, I do not know what it is for sure, but my little sister overheard this question and said, “I imagine his favorite color is orange…but I don’t know why I think that.”  I believe that’s as good a guess as any, don’t you?

  Jennae I believe it is blue because he was born near the sea side. Actually I just made that up, but since I am one of the authors it might as well be true, right? 

 

  Thank you so much for taking an interest in our interview!  If you have any further questions about us and our book/writing/history etc. please post them on the comments page!  We will do our best to answer them and add them to this interview. =)