Novelspot: I recently had the pleasure to sit down with Jena' Galifany in my favorite virtual coffeehouse and we chatted away the evening. I love the hubbub of a coffee house, the sound of the steamer, the barista calling out orders, the rise and fall of conversations, and the fireplace with its comfy couches just calling out to our tired bodies to sit back and relax. First off…coffee or tea?
Jena': Herbal tea, preferably something with orange or spice. I love coffee as well, but it just doesn't love me any more.
Novelspot: Your name is so exotic sounding. Does it have a particular meaning? Is there a particular way to pronounce it?
Jena': It is pronounce Jen-A gal-I-fany. Jena' means "little bird". Jen was the male Gelfling in The Dark Crystal. Jena' is the feminine extension of Jen. So I was named after a Gelfling.
Novelspot: When did you first start writing? Do you remember your first piece? Tell us about it.
Jena': I began writing in eighth grade. My English teacher was very pleased with "The Mystery of Cascade Castle" that I wrote, and ask to hang on to it. Someone else apparently thought it was good, too, because they stole it from the classroom. I tried to rewrite it but it never came together like the first time. I set aside writing until I was around thirty. I was single again, and took a correspondence course for writing children's books. From there I only dabbled until I was introduced to the internet.
Once online, I joined a few fan groups for entertainers, bands, and actors. Now and then, I would write fan fiction. One group was trying to get Disney to give Guy Williams, of Zorro fame, legend status. To do this, we put together books of drawings and fan fiction that were done by the members to show Disney that Guy was still an influence on us. I wrote two pieces that were included in the two books we sent.
I also wrote a few fan-fics for other groups I was on. 80s singers and bands were a lot of fun to write about.
Novelspot: Where did the idea for the ShadowsForge series come from?
Jena': ShadowsForge follows with the 80s bands fan fictions. Fan fiction can be a lot of fun but not profitable for obvious reasons. In July 2002, I fell in my garden and messed up my arm. I type for a living (my night job) and was unable to work for most of the month of July. So I decided to spend the off time writing something.
Fan fiction was not going to get me anywhere, so I invented my own band and wrote about them. I named them ShadowsForge, one word, and I capitalize the F just to irritate my older sister who should have been an English teacher. (Hugs to you, Dee!)
ShadowsForge 1: Three Times a Hero began with three words, spoken by my favorite bass player, "I wrote it." He was on a VH1 show. I heard him say those words and my mind wrapped around them and ran with it. In one month, I took it from three words to over 53,000.
After I returned to work, I let some friends read it and they wanted to know what happened next. The series took off from there. I named Ty Synclair and Geoff Richards. Two of my readers named Jon Wiles and Jordan Cantrell, and my husband named Brian Cummings.
Novelspot: If ShadowsForge 1: Three Times a Hero were to make it to the silver screen, who can you imagine playing Ty and Alexis?
Jena': Alexis is easy. Angelina Jolie, with long black hair like she had in "Pushing Tin". Ty… hmm. Casper Van Dien, with lots of blond curly hair. He has the face and the eyes.
Novelspot: Did you learn anything about your self while writing this book? What?
Jena': Yes. I learned that I want to be groupie when I grow up! LOL! Seriously, I was surprised that I was able to write so many words. I'd never written anything that long before and I was pleased with what I ended up with. I was more surprised when it developed a following at work over the next couple of years. The ten readers convinced me to seek publication or I probably would not have tried it.
Novelspot: What drew you to writing in the contemporary romance genre?
Jena': I have read so many romances that I was disappointed in. Romance is not sex, but it seems to be that way in a lot of contemporary books. I am a believer in the "fade to black" bedroom scene. What is romantic to me may not be romantic to you. I hope there is a niche of readers that think that way, too. There are not enough books with that philosophy. So I want to add to the number.
Novelspot: What kind of writer are you? Do you get possessed by your characters? Do you plot carefully or write by the seat of your pants?
Jena': I know where I want the story to go, so I basically write backward. I say," this has to happen, so what would make it happen?" I have a basic outline but it is laid out from the end to the beginning. Then I start writing from the beginning to the end, with the occasional side trip if my readers ask about or mention something interesting.
I live with the band. My darling supportive husband tells me that they get more of my attention than he does, although, Steve has helped me out on several scenes in books two and three. He has been a roadie, and shares technical insights with me.
The band is foremost in my mind now but others keep creeping in and trying to get me to tell their stories. I have about six story lines waiting for me to finish the ShadowsForge series so I can get to them.
Novelspot: Favorite authors? Favorite books? Favorite color?
Jena': In the older books, I love Victoria Holt. Her romance mysteries have just enough of each genre to keep me interested. I enjoy many different authors. As a reviewer, I have a different favorite from week to week.
Favorite book: The Bible and The Secret Woman by Victoria Holt.
Favorite color: Black and various shades of lavender.
Novelspot: Tell us the BEST writing advice you've received. Then tell us the WORST. What writing advice do you give others?
Jena': The best was to keep writing, every day, and to study the craft continually. I don't think I've been given any bad advice. If I was, it apparently didn't stick. The advice I give to others is the best that was given to me. Study the craft. You never know it all. There is a multitude of free articles online by some of the best writers of today. Read them. They are a wealth of knowledge and can only improve your writing. Network with other successful writers and "listen".
Novelspot: What's next after the ShadowsForge series is complete? Will you stay in this genre or try out something else?
Jena': ShadowsForge will have six novels. I have contracts with Whiskey Creek Press on ShadowsForge 1: Three Times a Hero, ShadowsForge 2: Trials on Tour, and ShadowsForge 3: Retaking America. I am working on ShadowsForge 4: The Long Way Home. ShadowsForge 5: Jon's Way is bumping around in my head, trying to get out, and ShadowsForge 6: Sharon's Song is finished but needs to be fleshed out a bit more. After I finish book four, though, I want to set the band aside for a while and do something else.
I have an idea for an inspirational that I'd like to try. It is set a bit in the future and I will need a lot of "tech" stuff from Steve for it. I also have psychological thriller in mind as well. I believe that what ever I do will involve romance, whether it is sweet, or dark.
I have a contract for a dark romance that I hope will be out by the end of this year or early next. I don't have a release date as yet. How Could She Know? took sixteen years to complete. I was thrilled when Chippewa Publishing LLC were interested in it. We should start the editing process at the end of June.
Novelspot: What motivates you to write? Why do you do it?
Jena': I write to escape. I have a very unromantic life, not to speak ill of my husband. He works days and I work nights. We have a fourteen year old daughter who is ADHD and is very into electronics, robotics, and writes her own stories. We just don't have time for romance and travel. With writing, I travel all over the world. My research takes me to places that I could never physically go, and allows me to do things I'd never dare to do. I want to leave something behind when I go. A well-written book that makes someone's heartstrings go "Ah!" would be just the thing.
Novelspot: Is there anything else you'd like to tell us? Is there a question that interviewers tend to miss?
Jena': Would I like a million dollar advance for my writing? The answer would be no. I don't want that kind of pressure to make the sales to cover that kind of advance. I don't write to create more pressure in my life. I write to relieve pressure--and fulfill a desire for things to go my way, for once. LOL!
Thanks for the tea and company. Both were wonderful!
Novelspot: Thanks for taking the time out of your busy day to chat. Stop by again sometime!
Interviewed by Susan June 2006