I’ve been a huge fan of Fire in the Woods for quite a while now and I was lucky enough to be able to interview Jennifer! So here’s the questions I hope you enjoy reading the answers just as much as I did.
What gave you the idea for Fire in the Woods?
I wrote the original story a few years ago. I was in the middle of writing a very long, sweeping space opera when a friend told me about an open call for an anthology. I’d never written anything short, but decided to give it a go. I needed something that could fit inside a short time span of 10,000 words, so I decided to write a story about a spaceship crashing in a girl’s backyard, and having her help the alien get home (within seven days). 70,000 words later, I had Fire in the Woods (And I had to write something different for that anthology).
Is there any book in particular that made you want to start writing?
I can’t really think of a particular book, but I’ve always had a very over-active imagination. Even when I was really young I had all these really elaborate stories in my head. It wasn’t until I was a teenager and I discovered I loved English and language arts when I realized I could put all those crazy ideas to work for me. I wrote my fist book in high school, one chapter a night and my friends read and passed it around in the morning. It was kind of like Wattpad on paper passed around the school.
In Fire in the Woods we see Jess’s love for photography. Is that something you love to do?
I do love to take pictures. My husband finds it terribly annoying. “Oh there she is taking a picture of a butterfly again. Is there anything wrong with the dozen pictures you already have?” But I do like to squeeze into small places and find the beauty in things that others may not see. I guess that is why it was easy for me to slip into Jess’s shoes. We are a lot alike.
What would you have done if you’d found David in the woods?
This is where Jess and I differ. I have always been overly cautious. Yes, I would have helped him, but it would have been more like: “Stay right here. I will call an ambulance. No, sorry I don’t care that you are an alien. You are an alien I’ve never met, and I can’t trust you.” Sad to say, I wouldn’t have had the grand adventure that she had.
What was the funniest part of the series to write?
Hands-down, the first kiss scene. That was one of the few scenes that got very little editing. I had a crystal clear image of David’s reaction, and the look on his face, and how embarrassed Jess would be, and how David would react to her reaction. I imagined being stuck inside a pinball machine and having things just get worse and worse. That scene still brings a smile to my face, and so many people call it out in reviews and commentary. It will probably always be a favourite.
Did writing a sequel feel different to writing the first book?
Writing a sequel was unbelievably different! First of all, the problem was that I never intended to write a second book. In my mind, the story was over, and ended really the only way it could end (without being cheesy.) I had to think of how to get these characters back together again, and what could possibly happen to them to make them have to run for their lives one more time. In the end, I am thrilled with the story that developed, and I think in many ways it is even better than Fire in the Woods.
What advice do you have for anyone who is writing their own story?
Keep writing. It doesn’t really matter what you write, but as long as you write a little bit every day, you will become a better writer. I read stuff I’ve written only a year ago, and I am stunned by how much I can improve that writing in a few simple edits. Now, I am writing my first drafts with techniques that encompass all the tricks that I used to do while editing. In effect, my first draft now equals what used to be my fifth draft. The trick is to just keep writing, and hold on to your dream. There is no greater joy that putting your heart into a book for a year, and then seeing people rave about your story on social media. Knowing you could make someone else smile is worth all the effort.
That’s all the questions! I hope you enjoyed reading. If you haven’t read Fire in the Woods and are wondering what it’s about here’s the synopsis and where you can purchase a copy is below.
Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Jess’s dream is to graduate High School and get away from her dull military-brat existence. But racing for her life across New Jersey with a boy she hardly knows is not quite what she had in mind. David is alone, injured, and lost in the woods. When a young girl stumbles across him, he places his trust, and his life, in her hands. Will she lead him to safety, or right into the hands of the men he is hiding from?
Need a copy of Fire in the Woods now? Here are the links!
Jennifer M Eaton
Jennifer M. Eaton hails from the eastern shore of the North American Continent on planet Earth. Yes, regrettably, she is human, but please don’t hold that against her.
While not traipsing through the galaxy looking for specimens for her space moth collection, she lives with her wonderfully supportive husband and three energetic offspring. (And a poodle who runs the spaceport when she’s not around.)
During infrequent excursions to her home planet of Earth, Jennifer enjoys long hikes in the woods, bicycling, swimming, snorkeling, and snuggling up by the fire with a great book; but great adventures are only a short shuttle ride away.
Who knows where we’ll end up next?