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Interview with Jennifer Tempest

She lives in Alberta, Canada with her boyfriend and a large cat. She loves writing fantasy books and will read anything recommended to her, especially if it involves dragons. She loves spending time playing board games with her friends and being active in fun activities such as aerial hoops.

Q.1 Tell us something about yourself not many people know?
So while people know I love escape rooms, not everyone knows I have currently done 72 (with 2 more planned on December 30). I have done many of them in Alberta but have also done escape rooms in Florida and Manchester, England. I also plan to attempt one in Italy when I hopefully travel there next year with my boyfriend.

Q.2 Are we going to read more from you in the near future? Any new project you’re working on?
I hope so! I am currently working on a new story that takes place in the same Empire as The Cardinal War but has a different main set of characters, although there will be one original character that makes it into the new story! I’ve really enjoyed my writings so far in this new story and I further develop the world I have created and the history.

Q.3 What inspired you to write The Cardinal War?
I started writing The Cardinal War when I was around twenty-two and then let it sit for many years as I considered publishing it. One of the main elements of the story is the fact the characters all have wings, and this element was inspired by a story I had just finished reading at the time where the characters also had wings. As soon as I situated the city with four manors surrounding it, I knew the title would be The Cardinal War and the rest just formed from there.

Q.4 What is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
I would say just understanding how they potentially think/view the world. Especially when it came to my two main characters, Daithi and Eileen, I did not want to assume their thoughts would be the same when I wrote about each of them from the other's perspective. I tried to focus on the character traits themselves and not let myself get stuck on the fact I was now writing from a male perspective.

Q.5 How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
As organized as I love to be, this does not follow through in my writing style, at least how it would appear from the outside. I do not have any set formula but rather let the world dictate who is in it. 

For example, in my current story, I am working on, I thought I had the cast of characters figured out but when I started writing a later chapter, two new characters emerged, and I like one of them so much already that she may even get her own story in the future. But I did not plan to have her as a focus or even exist by name originally.

I do write the ending first to help me develop my plot and estimate how many chapters I may want to have with a sentence or two of what will be covered. This is not set in stone but helps allow the plot to flow better.

Q.6 Do you believe in writer’s block? If yes, how do you deal with it?
I do believe a writer can get stuck on a particular idea or plot point but I feel that there are ways around it. I write with an outline so I have a few sentences of what I want to address in each chapter. However, I do not write in order with the ending usually being written first and then whatever chapter I am feeling inspired to write about. 

For example, I may feel when I sit down I want to write about some action-heavy scenes versus dialogue-heavy ones. I will then write till my inspiration runs out and then either switch to another section of the story or take a break. Sometimes I will also find myself in review days where I re-read what I have written so far so I can add or adjust sentences to make the story flow.

Q.7 What was the hardest part of writing this book?
I would say the hardest part is making sure details make sense for those readers who pick up on the small elements. It was more simple to create an overarching story but I wanted to ensure there were small things to pick up on as well as allow me to expand the characters, Empire or the world in general. 

I also strived to make the characters likable but realistic as well. With that, I had to ensure that the characters' interactions with the world made sense, mostly in regards to flight and their wings as a whole. So the difficulty came in having the rain affect elements accurately and consistently.

Q.8 Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I think if I no longer was able to write I would try and tell stories in a different way, even if it was not my story. I have dabbled in acting previously but I think this would become more of a focus in my life to share the art of others’ stories. I think film and stage is an excellent ways to experience the creator's world and vision so I would love to be a part of that.

Q.9 If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead role?
I would pick Alexandra Daddario for the main role of Eileen. If you include Daithi as the main character as well, which I do, I would say Dave Franco for him.

Q.10 Is it vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing, tell us about your marketing campaign?
My focus originally was getting my story out there and focusing on gathering my friends and family into my world. I did Facebook posts and a book signing event to create this core group. From there I have done interviews to expand my audience as well as done some giveaways to help gain reviews and have other eyes read my story. 

On my website, I also have a blog where I post every month to engage with my readers and share more about myself along with the world I have created. I also reached out to small local stores and I have some physical copies in at least one store in my home city.

Q.11 If you could be a member of any fantasy race, which would you choose and why?
Elves. Part of this is because some of my favorite characters from books have been from this fantasy race but also because near the beginning of my relationship with my boyfriend, we played Dungeons and Dragons together and my character was an Elf. I found that the experience drew us together and I loved my character, so Elves have a soft spot in my heart now.

Q.12 What is one stereotype about fantasy writers is absolutely wrong? What one stereotype is dead on?
One stereotype that I believe is incorrect is that Fantasy writers write trilogies at the very least, if not epic series. I think standalone novels, while still doing character and world-building can be effective as well. 

On the flip side, the stereotype that fantasy writers focus on world-building more than say other fiction writers is very true. I think it’s needed in order to create a world for characters to grow and change.

Q.13 If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Write with your heart and don’t be afraid of the unknown. I waited for years to publish The Cardinal War, and while I believe the timing of it was for a reason, I only waited because I was afraid of how it would be received even though I loved it.

Q.14 Among all the supporting characters in your book, who is dear to you and why?
I would say, Driskell, Daithi’s elder brother. I chose to make The Cardinal War about Daithi and his evolving relationship with Eileen but I think Driskell has his own story to tell.

Q.15 Who designed your book cover? How do you select him/her?
I published through Tellwell publishing so when it came to the cover they have a set group of people who do the designs. I completed a questionnaire so I could share visions I had for the book and then the individual who selected my book made my vision come to life!

Q.16 How do you select the name of your characters?
All of the names from The Cardinal War are from my Celtic book of names I have on my shelf for some reason. I choose names that are meaningful to the character in some way. For example, Eileen means radiant and beautiful, and she is certainly that. Some are based on personality while others are based on physical features.

Q.17 Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with good or bad ones?
I do read my book reviews as with well-written reviews I can always learn something, whether they are good or bad. Some of my reviews have been verbal which I appreciate as I can ask follow-up questions. I have learned a lot already about people’s experience with The Cardinal War and I hope to learn more about how people view and experience my world.

Q.18 Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
Not necessarily famous per se but the first person that came to mind was my favorite author, Mercedes Lackey. I would love to hear her talk about the worlds she creates and ask how she can write so many books in a year while still maintaining great quality for the stories. I would ask how she creates different series at the same time as well and keep all her ideas organized.

Q.19 What is your favorite book from other authors and why?
Brightly Burning by Mercedes Lackey for sure because it was my first book in her Valdemar universe and it sucked me in. I now own all of her books in that world and it really got me into fantasy. The books from that series, especially Brightly Burning, are some of the few books I re-read on a consistent basis.

Q.20 Share the experience of your journey so far?
The experience has been an amazing journey so far. From the experience of going through the publishing steps; creating my cover to editing, all the way to being a part of interviews now, the journey has been a blast. In doing a book signing event I got to interact with friends and family as well as friends of friends who were interested in my story. 

I got wonderful promotional photos from that day as well and many people asked about future works. The interviews have been enjoyable to talk about my experiences as well as my book to encourage others to be a part of my world. I can’t wait to do more to draw people in.

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