Jenelle Schmidt Interview for Second Son
I am delighted to welcome Jenelle Schmidt onto the site today. She is the author of King’s Warrior and the soon to be released, Second Son. In fact, this interview is part of her big, cover reveal, which is being done across multiple other web sites today. You can find the brand new cover at the bottom of this post.
Jenelle is one of those authors that I heartily recommend to anyone because she is one of the few authors I know who really writes stories that are worth her readers time. While her books are entertaining and she has a light, playful side to her writing at times, but her characters are also people you really want to root for, true heroes, struggling to face the evils of their world with dignity and nobility.
I do hope you’ll consider looking into her work. And now, let’s get to the interview!
So before we get in to talking about your books and in particular Second Son, tell me a little bit about yourself as a writer. How did you get started?
I think I’ve always been writing. Even before I could actually sit down and write out my ideas, my favorite thing to do was play make-believe and create these elaborate adventures for myself and my siblings or my cousins to participate in. As soon as I began writing, I was writing stories. In junior high, I wrote a really ridiculous “book” for a friend of mine’s birthday. It was pretty long for a 6th grade endeavor, and revolved around two orphans who somehow ended up in the woods living off the land and they found a wild horse, tamed him, built a house and stable (I clearly recall writing about them going into town to buy lumber and supplies… my dad was a builder, so those details were important!) and then they trained the horse and won the Triple Crown. Like I said… ridiculous.
Later in junior high, a friend and I created a really hilarious email novel that we titled “Really Cheesy Dramas that Make No Sense and Would Make Anyone but You Become Scared of Me.” I still have those, and they still make me laugh.
I got more serious about writing in high school, when my best friend and I co-authored a sci-fi novel. It needs a lot of polish, but I am convinced that the premise is sound. Someday, maybe.
It wasn’t until college when I really buckled down and tried to write something by myself in a short period of time. My dad challenged me to write an entire novel the summer after my Freshman year. I took the challenge and handed him ten pages every night, which he would read out loud for the family. That summer was one of the best and most challenging summers of my life – and still one of my fondest memories.
Woah, ten pages a night! I wish I could write that many…Well, I know different authors write for different reasons. What motivates you as a writer and what do you hope readers take away from your books?
Motivation… where can that be found? Just kidding. I know a lot of writers say they’d write even if nobody read their books. I’m not like that. I really need feedback to keep me going. I think that’s why I was able to finish that first book so quickly, I got instant feedback from the audience I cared most about in the world. So, mostly, I write for them: my family. If nobody ELSE read my books, fine. But as long as my family is clamoring for more, that’s the thing that motivates me the most.
What do I hope readers take away from my books? I hope that they close the book wanting more. I hope they feel the satisfaction of having read a good story and that something about it inspired their imagination or touched them in some way. I write about courage in the midst of fear and perseverance despite insurmountable odds – partially because those are fun things to write about and make for great adventures, but also because we all face those feelings in every day life. We may not be surrounded by an army of Dark Warriors or facing the King of the Dragons… but we all experience real fear and worry, we feel like giving up when things get hard, and I hope that my books help people press on when they are discouraged or afraid.
Now I know you’re also a big reader as most writers are. What are some of your favorite books?
This is always such a hard question to answer, but at least you used the word “some.” I’ll give you a list:
The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Chronicles of Narnia; Screwtape Letters; and Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
Lilith; The Light Princess; The Fisherman’s Lady; The Marquis’ Secret; and The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald
The Death Gate Cycle by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
The Pendragon Cycle by Stephen R. Lawhead
The Icarus Hunt by Timothy Zahn (and any of his Star Wars books… okay, most of his books)
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
He Whistles for the Cricket by Gwen Walker
Lad: A Dog; Wolf; Gray Dawn; Treve; and Bruce by Albert Payson Terhun
The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede
Mountain Madness by Robert Birkby
And… yeah, I have to include the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Yes, I know that’s long. I kept it to the bare essentials, I promise!
I must say, you have great taste in books. I imagine most of those books have had some influence on your own writing. If you could pick one or two authors, living or dead, as mentors, who would they be?
I think I’d have to go with Tolkien and Zahn. I love the depth and detail that Tolkien uses in his books. I love how he crafts his characters and allows them to be extremely three-dimensional and how they just jump off the page and into your heart. And with Zahn, I am just constantly impressed by how he creates a whole new world or universe for every story: sometimes just for a single book! I love that he has written so many different series and could be well-known for any of them. It’s very rare and I find it inspiring. It’s a standard I’d love to live up to.
All right. We’ve talked a bit about you as a writer. What about you as a person. What do you do in your spare time (if you have any!) ? What do you like to do for fun?
I have two daughters ages 5 and almost-2, so spare time isn’t really something I understand. We do like to watch a lot of movies and we “netflix” a lot of television shows. (I love that “netflix” has become a verb). We spend a lot of time at our church – in class, Bible studies, and my husband volunteers on the media team. We like to have friends over to play board games (we really enjoy Euro-gaming – so when we find people who enjoy that as well we try really hard to keep them as friends!) Let’s see, what else? I love hiking and just being outside. I love going skiing, though I don’t get to do that nearly often enough. Love going to baseball games (we don’t have a major league team here in North Carolina, boo, but we do have some great farm teams that are fun to watch). I love biking, throwing a frisbee around, and playing soccer.
Wow, those all sound like a lot of fun-especially the board games! Ok, back to the writing. Tell me a little bit about King’s Warrior.
Is it sad that I never feel like I know how to answer this question? King’s Warrior is a story about a kingdom that is about to be invaded. King Arnaud knows the attack is coming, and he wants to protect his daughter and send her away from the battle, but he also knows she will resist being “sent away” and so he gives her a mission: to find the man who once held the title of “King’s Warrior” (a man named Brant) and request his aid.
Kamarie accepts the challenge (much as I accepted the one my own father gave me when he asked me to write this book) and sets off with just a squire (who is rather miffed at being assigned a babysitting job) and her maid. They travel across the mountains, but finding Brant proves to be only the very beginning of their adventures.
So King’s Warrior is the first book in the Minstrel’s Song series, but Second Son is coming out next. What’s that book about?
I’ll just share the back-of-the-book text for this one:
In an attempt to manipulate the future, a family and a nation are forced to decide between two brothers. Guided by a prophecy spoken hundreds of years before, the King and Queen of Llycaelon have set their course. Their goal: to fulfill the prophecy and save their nation from a dire fate.
Rhoyan has always understood and accepted his own role as second born and perpetual prince. He looks forward to the day when he will be a warrior in his older brother’s guard. When Rhoyan is sent on a quest filled with unimaginable danger, nobody anticipates the greater repercussions.
As Rhoyan journeys far across the seas on his appointed trial, he will battle creatures of legend, suffer shipwreck, endure captivity, and lay claim to a fallen star. When tragedy strikes, Rhoyan must struggle to return home believing his quest has failed. However, the home he left no longer awaits him and the true test of his strength and character has only just begun.
Long before Aom-igh needed a champion, Llycaelon had a Second Son.
And what was your thinking behind going back in time for the second book, writing, in effect, the prequel to King’s Warrior?
Well, Brant sort of became the main character of King’s Warrior by accident. He was just going to be a tertiary character in the first chapter, but my family loved him so much they demanded that he stay in the story. His role just grew and expanded and he was so mysterious (annoyingly so, most of the time). As I wrote the first draft of the story, I had no idea what his back-story was, why the Dark Warriors were trying to kill him, or the answers to any of the questions that the other characters asked him. Then, in the last couple of chapters, it came together and suddenly everything was clear and made sense. The “big” question, as it were, got answered. But there were so many other questions left over, that I knew I had an entire novel’s worth of information just to tell Brant’s back-story – so that’s why the second book is chronologically out of order.
Cool, I’m so excited for you with this new book. Care to share with us what other projects you’re working on as we head out the door?
Well, this year I am working hard on editing books 3 and 4 of The Minstrel’s Song quadrilogy (quartet?)
This past August I finished a book called “The Orb and the Airship” which will be the first in a new series that is sort of a blend of fantasy and sci-fi, though far more on the fantasy side of things – so I have to work on the sequel eventually, but there’s a lot of editing that needs to happen first.
Right now I’m working on another book in a completely different series that is going to be futuristic sci-fi/mystery/crime drama. It is very different for me, and I’m excited to try my hand at it.
Awesome! Thanks so much for stopping by, Jenelle. And all the best to you with the launch of Second Son!
Thank you so much for having me!
Cover for Second Son
And finally, here it is, the new cover for Second Son:
Pretty cool, huh? And it really fits in well with the cover from the first book, King’s Warrior. I think the painting gives you a pretty clear idea that this story is with swords and knights and maybe a little family conflict? And check out that castle. I’d love to go exploring there. If you’d like to explore Jenelle’s world for yourself, be sure to pick up a copy of one of her books when you get the chance.
I’ll post about where you can get the book as soon as it is released. Until then, you can find out more about Jenelle and her work on her website if you’re interested. For now, thanks for stopping by and participating in Jenlle’s Cover reveal event.