This is Jenny. Let me introduce you to her. She is one of the most fantastic authoresses I know. I am proud to be hosting her interview on my blog, because, well, I’ve looked up to her and her writing for quite a while now. Actually being able to say “Oh yes, I know Jenny and Abigail” makes me feel rather well-off in the writing community. Jenny is lovely, friendly, and will make many tongue-in-cheek remarks. She loves tea (my kind of authoress, I can tell you now), is married to the man she loves, is a homeschool graduate who cannot write in cursive, and has had her historical fiction book the Shadow Things published and eagerly read by many (including myself. Signed copy, yes please.)
Grab a cup of tea, turn on some music, and enjoy the interview with Lady Jennifer Frietag!
How long did it take you to complete the Shadow Things?
I honestly do not remember; my best guess would be around two years. Given the size of the book you would probably not think it would take that long, but I confess I was not exactly diligent and at the time I was not actively considering publication. The Shadow Things was a story I worked on whenever it came to me.
Who was your favourite character to write?
Honestly, Indi was. Since day one, page one, with the pending storm and Thern and the beetle, I enjoyed writing Indi. Even in his worst, confused moments he was a familiar, safe sort of person to be around and work with. And I learned a lot from him, too. You can’t go through a story like that and watch a fellow hold up in the name of God and for the love of God under such provocations without all the doctrines and principles you hold becoming something more than just words to you.
Does your book have a song you’ve chosen as its theme?
Not really, but a song that fits it and that has impacted me since childhood is Rich Mullins’ “If I Stand.” Mullins knew how to give voice to the soul of a man longing for home.
And there’s a loyalty that’s deeper
Than mere sentiments
And a music higher than the songs
That I can sing
The stuff of Earth competes
For the allegiance
I owe only to the giver
Of all good things
So if I stand let me stand on the promise
That you will pull me through
And if I can’t, let me fall on the grace
That first brought me to You
And if I sing let me sing for the joy
That has born in me these songs
And if I weep let it be as a man
Who is longing for his home
Can you summarize the book in ten words or less?
“The world hates you…know it has hated Me before you.” (John 15:18)
If it were made into a movie, who would play the main characters?
I honestly don’t know, Mirriam! I cannot imagine this book ever being made into a movie: the thought has never seriously crossed my mind, and has never idly crossed my mind for more than a few seconds. It’s really not the sort of story I would choose to turn into a film and if someone did try to turn it into a film I would live in fear that they would not get the message. Because the message isn’t mine: I didn’t make it up. It is really a matter of me telling the world again that the Holy Spirit is living and active and strong to preserve the children of God through all refining and hateful torment this world will hurl against them. That isn’t my story. That’s His. And can you really make a movie of that?
Who would compose the music?
I’m afraid I’m not a music junkie so my knowledge of the people behind music is almost nonexistent. The best I could tell you is that the story would need someone with a clear, elemental touch in music—nothing heavy or epic.
(Jenny, I must interject – David Arkenstone. There you are).
Where would it be filmed?
The story takes place across southern Britain, but whether or not you could film it on location I don’t know. You would need a richly arable landscape that would allow you to give it a half-and-half image of slight wilderness neglect and remaining Roman civilization. Yes, an author does ask too much.
Out of all your characters in this book, who would you most like to have over for a week?
It’s a toss-up between Indi and the enigmatic Lord Bedwyr. I think Bedwyr would be a lot of fun to spend an evening with: he has definitely mellowed as he has grown older… But for a week, I would probably choose Indi.
Are you planning on writing more historical fiction in the future?
With Adamantine, Plenilune, and probably Between Earth and Sky ahead of me, I don’t know if I am capable of thinking that far into the future. I assume I will write more historical fiction, but I don’t have anything definitely planned yet. I’ll keep you posted.
(Thank you 🙂
Do you have any unusual habits when you write? (i.e. consuming inordinate amounts of tea and/or coffee, sitting in one position the whole time, etc.)
I think I have three odd habits that are probably characteristic of writers in general, though perhaps not the rest of the human race. I cannot sit still long. I have to get up and move about, a habit only exacerbated by highly tense scenes and/or awkward situations. The second habit, which was brought to my attention, is that I make faces. I think you can usually tell the atmosphere of the scene I am writing by what my face is doing. It’s mildly embarrassing to admit that. And the third habit is that I work a computer keyboard the way Beethoven played the piano. My husband worries I will break my keyboard in two with the violence of my typing—a habit which worsens the more charged the scene.
Did you feel elated or deflated when you finally completed the book?
I might have felt deflated if I hadn’t been neck-deep in another novel at the time. That is the advantage to having more than one piece in the works at once: you always have something to devote your attention to when one project is finished. I did feel a little cowed because, after The Shadow Things was finished, I was gearing toward publishing it—and publishing remains to this day a strange, scary ritual that I do not fully understand and wonder if I ever will.
Is there anything you wish you could go back and change?
Yes, but I won’t tell, and even if I was given the opportunity to go back and change it I probably wouldn’t. That, too, is probably characteristic of a lot of writers.
Was there ever a point where you got discouraged writing it, and what did you do?
My sister-in-law tells me that she had me practically rewrite the novel. I don’t remember this. She still feels badly about it, and she apologizes for it from time to time, but I still don’t remember it. I have some vague memory of getting to the end, going back, and overhauling it massively, but I don’t remember anyone telling me to do so. I do recall brief moments when I stared at the story as a whole and thought, “Someone needs to get the pooper-scooper for this thing.” But somehow I managed to turn it into something that even I like—and everyone else seems to like it too.
And last but not least, what is the nicest compliment you have ever received regarding your book? (Be honest, now, it isn’t bragging – I asked!)
I know a lot of people remark on how young I was when I wrote the novel. Apparently that is surprising. I never thought about it as surprising—I’ve always written stories and I never did it in relation to my physical age. Never let yourself be held back from being awesome by how many birthdays you have or have not had. But I think the biggest compliment I have received is the number of souls I have touched. It is one thing to write a good story and have people like it: it is another to see one’s plot, one’s characters, one’s words driving into the life-blood of a reader’s heart. I listen to OwlCity’s recent release “Gold”—“shout out to the dreams you’ll chase! shout out to the hearts you’ll break!”—and I know how that goes. The biggest compliment is to be called the Penslayer and to see the title in action.
Jenny, this was marvelous. To all my blog readers and friends – can you see why I like her so much? Thank you for taking the time to do this, Jenny – please hurry up and get Adamantine and Plenilune finished before I have to come over there and make you tea myself! *wink*
To contact the penslayer girl, scribble a writ to firstname.lastname@example.org. She would love to hear any feedback.