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Author Megg JensenI’d like to welcome USA Today best selling fantasy author Megg Jensen to the blog today.  Megg is the author of the Dragonlands series and the Song of Eloh Saga, which includes The Cloud Prophet Trilogy and The Swarm Trilogy.

Hank: Megg, what is your first memory of wanting to be a writer?

Megg: I began reading, voraciously, at the age of four. When I was seven, I penned a story about a unicorn. I typed stories on my parents’ ancient typewriter, cut the pages to paperback size, and stitched them together. I wrote for the local newspaper by ten and won a national writing award the same year. I spent high school writing terrible poetry and song lyrics. By college, my poetry mirrored the dark angst of the 90’s grunge era. It wasn’t until I graduated college that I decided to become a full-time writer. I sold a few short stories here and there, corresponded with some of my favorite authors via snail mail. Took creative writing classes. Then life intervened, forcing me down a path in parenting journalism. It wasn’t until 2008 that I took novel writing seriously.

I know you asked for my first memory, but writing has been an integral part of me since I was very small. To me, writing is life and can’t be truncated into one memory.

Hidden by Megg JensenHank: Your Dragonlands books have been very successful. Have you always been a fan of fantasy?

What do you like about writing in the genre?
Megg: Fantasy and science fiction have always been my favorite genres. There’s something about escaping everyday life, whether by reading or writing, that appeals to me. Real life can be so monotonous. It’s fun to take a mental vacation every day.

Hank: Do you have a particular process when planning a novel or series?

Do you consider yourself a plotter, Pantser, or some hybrid of the two?

Megg: My process is messy. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

Usually, I come up with an idea. I let it fester for months in the back of my mind. Once it’s taken some kind of solid shape, I research other books, to make sure it hasn’t been done. Occasionally, i’ll happen upon a book with a plot exactly like the one I dreamed up. Then it’s back to the muse.
When I have an idea that I comfortably feel is original, I start writing. Within two or three chapters, everything changes. Dramatically. Happens every time. I keep writing, and I begin to journal. I ask myself questions about the plot and the characters. I also follow basic plot guidelines to be sure I’m hitting the proper beats – rising action, tension, conflict, climax, etc. Once I’m doing writing the first draft, I usually re-write the entire first quarter of the book.
Like I said, it’s a bit of a mess, but it works for me.
For a long time I considered myself a pure pantser. Since I began working with plot charts, I guess I’m a hybrid.
Hank: Do you have a daily writing ritual? Do you aim for a certain word count, or have daily/weekly milestones that you shoot for?

Anathema by Megg JensenMegg: I have a basic daily ritual. Get kids off to school, exercise, then work. My specific goals change all the time. Sometimes it’s editing. Sometimes it’s writing. Sometimes it’s both. Other days, I slack off and play video games.

My word count goals are directly related to my deadlines. I will go weeks without writing if I’m editing, and vice versa.

Hank: Do you try to maintain a rigid release schedule?

You are a very prolific author. Do you have any advice for authors that want to be more productive?

Megg: I do try to maintain a rigid release schedule. Part of that includes writing one or two books ahead. My last release was in April, and I won’t release the first book of my next series until the second is edited. That way, I can get books in a series out to the reader faster.

I’m prolific because I’m full time. I have hours every day to write, and I try to take advantage of the time I’m given. Before I was full time, I worked everywhere. My first novel, Anathema, was written almost exclusively while my daughter was in swimming lessons or while my son napped. If you don’t have the flexibility to write full time, then sneak in words wherever you can.
Hank: Can you tell us a little bit about your next series?

Megg: Sure, I can tell you a little. My next series is the Forsaken Stars Saga. It’s not your typical space opera. Instead, this series leans closer to the science fantasy genre. I like to say it has a bit of scifi, a bit of fantasy, a bit of pew-pew-pew, and a bit of mystery. If you want to compare it to something familiar, you could say it’s Dune meets Flash Gordon.

The first book will release before 2015 is finished (though I don’t have a date yet). My plan is to release a new novel every 90 days. I hope I can keep up with that, barring life emergencies.

Hank: That’s really epic sounding!  Did you listen to the Flash Gordon soundtrack while writing?  Speaking of that, do you listen to music when you wrote or do you prefer silence?

What piece of advice would you give to a new writer/publisher that you wish someone would have given to you?

Megg: I am a HUGE Queen fan, so I listen to the music from Flash Gordon on a regular basis. It’s also one of my favorite movies, and I’ve managed to convince my children they love it, too.

I always listen to music while write. I typically listen to bands like The Birthday Massacre and Nightwish. Lindsey Stirling is another favorite. Occasionally, I’ll listen to these random epic soundtracks on You Tube.
I would tell a new writer be humble and listen to those who’ve come before you. I thought I knew it all before I was published. Now I realize I knew nothing, and I’m willing to learn something new every day.

Hank:I think that’s great advice. If someone is not familiar with your work, where should they jump in?

Thanks for stopping by the blog. Any parting thoughts?

Megg: Well, if a reader prefers young adult fantasy with romance, they should try Anathema, which is free everywhere. If they prefer a more mature fantasy read, then Hidden, also free, is the entry point to my Dragonlands series.

Thank you so much for having me, Hank! 🙂

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Dragonlands, Books 1 – 3: Hidden, Hunted, and Retribution

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The Song of Eloh Saga

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Interview with fantasy author Megg Jensen

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