Featured Author: Jennifer S. Alderson
Q: In one sentence, tell me something that describes you as a person?
A: I try to focus on the fun, quirky and adventurous side of life as a way of keeping sane.
Q: How many books have you written? How many of those are published?
A: Both of my full-length novels, Down and Out in Kathmandu (2015) and The Lover’s Portrait (2016), have been published.
Q: Do you have an upcoming release? If yes, tell me the title and impending release date.
A: I’m currently writing the first draft of my third novel. Set in present-day Amsterdam and Papua New Guinea in the 1950s and 1960s, this yet-to-be-named novel will be another art-related mystery, this time about Bispoles (religious objects akin to totem poles), American anthropologists, and Dutch missionaries. I’m planning on releasing it in the summer of 2017.
Q: If you could “create” your own genre of what you write, what would you call your books?
A: ‘Culturally-inspired mysteries’ or ‘travel-oriented art mysteries’.
Q: Without quoting your back cover synopsis, tell me about the last book you published.
A: The Lover’s Portrait is a mystery set in present day and wartime Amsterdam which uses the context of an art exhibition to examine issues surrounding the restitution of looted art and the intrinsic worth of artwork, as well as core values such as integrity, perseverance and sacrifice.
Q: Tell me something about yourself that is separate from writing.
A: I’m absolutely addicted to traveling to, and learning about, other countries and cultures. Before my son was born, I spent seven years living out of a backpack, traveling through more than thirty fascinating lands. I was born in San Francisco and grew up in Seattle, but have lived in the Netherlands since 2004. Since my son’s birth, our travels have been limited to European destinations and trips back to the Pacific Northwest to visit my family.
Q: Who is your favorite Author?
A: That is an extremely difficult question to answer! I have a very eclectic taste and like to read a bit of everything, though my favorite genres are thrillers and mysteries. Right now I’m in the middle of Chris Pavone’s The Travelers and just realized he’s one of the few authors of which I’ve read all (three) of his books.
Q: What is the last book that you read? (Not counting anything you wrote)
Q: When writing, do you have a system or something you plan, or do you just write?
A: Without a concise outline, I’m lost! My favorite part of the writing process is planning out then reworking the major and minor plot points before I set out the write the first draft. At this stage, anything is possible! However, once I begin to write out the individual chapters and dialogue, I allow myself to listen to the story and follow the path it takes me on, even if that means veering away from my outline.
Q: Why do you write?
A: Because I can’t help myself! I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember as a way of processing the world around me. My father, an avid reader, also encouraged me to write creatively, to the point where we would work out possible storylines together, then I would go off and write out the chapters in an attempt to create a plausible story. Afterwards, he would read and critique it before we re-wrote it together. It was a lot of fun and a great way for us to connect.
In my younger years I wrote poetry and short stories before majoring in Journalism at university and starting my career as an investigative journalist – probably the best job I ever had.
Q: Any final thoughts that you want to give to your fans or even future authors?
A: Dare to say ‘yes’ more often. Whenever I return from a trip, no matter how long the journey or destination, the most common comment I hear is, ‘I could never do that’. Of course you can! Life is an incredible ride, if you’re open to it. In my experience, choosing the unknown path has often turned out to be the best decision I could have ever made. And from what I’ve learned since hitting the road is that home won’t change as much as you fear. You can always go back if things don’t work out. And as an author, I’ve found the more dramatic experiences provide the most inspiration.