Author Jennifer Arntson is a dreamer first, a writer second, and a sworn enemy of Caillou forever. Please give her a warm welcome to No Wasted Ink.
A typical day for me starts like any other: I rush kids off to school, feed the dog, and the such, but what happens after that can be just as random to me as it is for anyone else. Sure, I’ve got a laundry list of tasks to be completed, but there are times that list goes untouched because of rain, feral pigs, or the local wandering domesticated dog pack we call ‘the puppy squad.’ Why? Well, I live on 160-acre ranch in southern Texas. Did I start here? Nope. This summer I moved from the Pacific Northwest (Go Hawks!) to follow my dreams. As such, I hunt pecans, pigs, invasive species vegetation, and shade in the triple digit weather.
When and why did you begin writing?
Like so many other authors, I had a dream I couldn’t shake. I never thought it would turn into anything, honestly. Because I’m a list person, I thought if I wrote my ideas down I’d be able to forget about them and go on with my day. As I did, the story flowed from my mind, down my fingers, and into page after page on my computer. My mom called me one afternoon and asked what I was doing, and when I told her, she asked to read it. It wasn’t done of course, but I sent it to her anyway. She called a few hours later and asked, “Where’s the rest of it?” There was no more, though. “Then I’m hanging up. Go write more.” So, I guess you can say my mother made me do it.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Oh…the day I held my book in my hands. I still remember the smell of it. You know, that new book smell? It was like that only better. My name on the cover made my head spin. In fact, my husband recorded the moment I opened the proof copy (and posted it online, ergh) and I said, “It’s real.” That’s when I knew. Looking back on the whole experience, I realize I was a writer long before that. The moment I sat down at my computer was when I became a writer. Silly how we need proof.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
My new release is the fourth book in the Scavenger Girl Series. Each of the novels follows a Scavenger named Una for a single season. She and her family have been convicted by the Authority and forced to live in the fringes of society, and as things change…so does she. When asked to describe the series I tell people it’s as if Twilight and Hunger Games had a baby delivered by Christian Grey, in a hospital run by Quentin Tarantino. While you won’t find vampires, shapeshifters, or child assassins, you will find a world that breaks the boundaries of traditional genres. Full of suspense and mystery, Una’s world is shrouded with classic dystopian elements and of course a bit of romance!
What inspired you to write this book?
At first, I wanted to get it out of my head. Now, it’s as if the characters themselves want their story told. They won’t let me be until I do.
Do you have a specific writing style?
No, not really. My writing style is thinking things up and writing them down. I know I should have something eloquent about which author has inspired me, but that’s like saying which dish made me like the taste of food. All of it, none of it. Honestly, I write what I like to read. Perhaps that’s why it’s so hard to stay within a single genre.
How did you come up with the title of this book?
Here’s a secret: This wasn’t the original title! My initial beta readers kept referring to Una as ‘that Scavenger Girl’ and it stuck. Since each book is about a season, we added that. In an effort for people to know what order to read them in, we put roman numerals on the cover and the rest fell together easily.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Many people say a person’s future is what they make of it, but that’s not always true. It’s also not the most important thing. Family, honesty, friendships…these are the true treasures worth pursuing.
Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Much of what you’ll read from any author is an amalgamation of their experiences, worldview, and assessment of things happening around them. While Scavenger Girl isn’t about a specific person or place, it is about the spirit and strength that we all share, and the parts of us we try so desperately to hide. I believe what we see in others is a product of their experiences and we judge it through a filter we’ve spent our whole lives creating. Perspective and grace go a long way.
What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?
I’m a huge fan of fantasy, though I sometimes get bogged down in the details. In the last five years or so I’ve discovered some extremely talented indie authors that dance in multiple genres. They are the ones that gave me a long leash to explore. My love of reading flourished once I started writing. I started eating, breathing and sleeping books. I think the stories that took me out of my daily grind were best. Our world touched with a bit of magic…that’s what I like. Still, I’m looking for fairies (even though I’ve learned they are trouble!)
If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?
I consider everyone I read to be a mentor. It’s funny…when you’re a writer, you’re not reading only to be entertained or to find an avenue for escape. When I read, I’m actively learning. What do I devour? What makes me wince? Is a turn of phrase they use to provide an essence I find missing in my work? Oh, that word is perfect; I’m going to use it. It is said that art inspires art. I now understand what that means.
Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
My husband and I did. We have backgrounds in graphic art and prefer simple statements in creative communication. The standalones that are coming out this year have a bit of a different look, though.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Keep writing. Don’t listen to your doubt. Pay for a good proofreader.
I’ve been lucky to have a huge on-line support group of highly talented people. That has been the best gift, really. Early on I realized there are a lot of people out there willing to take advantage of new writers and the seasoned professionals I met through Facebook groups and the like, made all the difference.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I have nothing but gratitude for everyone who has invested in my work. As an author I know I’m asking for two of your most valuable resources: your time and your hard earned money. Because of that, I promise I will always provide you with my very best, and I will never forget that it is because of you that Una lives. Thank you for taking this journey with me!
San Antonio, TX
Scavenger Girl: Season of Atchem