Saturday, October 8, 2011

Interview with Author Jolene B. Perry

Tell us a little about yourself.

 I grew up in Wasilla, Alaska. I went to college at Southern Utah University where I got a degree in political science and French, which I used to teach math to middle schoolers. My husband and I have been married for fifteen years, and lived in four different states before coming back to Alaska. I have two kids – Emma and Jack (8 and nearly 5), and we spend as much time outside as possible.

At what point did you decide you wanted to become a writer, and why:

I didn’t decide, really. Mike (my husband) and I were driving, and he asked me what I was thinking about. I took him through my random train of thought, and he said that I had such a crazy imagination and should start writing stuff, just for fun. So I did, and now I can’t stop.

How do you write: outline or seat of your pants, and why?

I have what I call a puke page, and then I go running or walking and find music that my characters would listen to so I can get in their mindset. I’ve tried outlining, and it doesn’t work. Not for me. I feel stifled, and then I get bored because I already know what’s coming up. The only time I outlined was while doing a joint project with a good friend. That was still fun because I’d wait for a few days to get a chapter from her so I could jump in and do my next chapter.

How would you describe your book in 11 words or less?

Leigh learns the meaning of independence and love.

Now the long version: Tell us about your book:

After a year fighting cancer, being watched by doctors, by her parents, by everyone, Leigh’s desperate for a clean slate and independence, and follows her brother, Jaron, to BYU. She has this great grasp on big life and death concepts, but is clueless when it comes to guys. She has a great relationship with her brother, which then turns into a great relationship with her brother’s roommate. She finally tells her roommates and new friends that she had cancer the year before, and realizes it’s not a big deal for people to know about her.

Once Leigh stops fighting so hard against love, she’s faced with two guys – one who is perfect on paper, but may not be the best match for her, and one who’s a disaster on paper, but really, knows her better than anyone.

What was your inspiration for The Next Door Boys:

It started out as a comedy about a girl who is completely disdainful of the girls who run off to college and get married (which I totally did, lol). Her whole goal is to NOT be one of those people. Then I wondered WHY she was against it. WHY did she want that independence so desperately? A good friend of mine in Vegas got a really aggressive cancer at the age of (about) 24, and I wondered how an experience like that would change someone just out of high school. So, Leigh became this cancer survivor determined to do things on her own.

Is there a message or theme that you wanted to convey in this novel?

That allowing the people around us to love and help us, does not undermine who we are, or what we accomplish on our own. Also, that the best loves can sometimes come from best friends.

Do you see writing as a career?

I didn’t used to. But with so many projects in the works, on sub, and coming out – I’m definitely on the beginning point of a writing career. SO exciting :D

What are your hobbies outside of writing?

Reading. Hiking, climbing, rafting, sewing (working on a Napoleonic era captain’s uniform for the hubs right now), web design (I’m not great at this), golf (not great at this either, but husband loves it, so I love doing it with him), art with my kids, gardening . . . I make sure that I try something new every year. Some things stick, some don’t. But it’s definitely opened me up to a lot of new experiences.

State a random fact about yourself that could surprise your readers:

I drew up plans and built two houses. I didn’t WATCH them being built. I was hauling lumber, cutting boards, and using the power nailers. We lived in the first house for two years, sold it and then built house number two. Along with this – I once nailed my finger to a wall inside our house, and it took three tries with a crowbar to get my finger off the nail. I know, you all just cringed a little, didn’t you? I can still see the mark on the pad of my finger, but the white spot under my nail has disappeared.

My blog – dedicated to whatever I happen to be rambling about that day: Jolene's Been Writing

My Group Blog – dedicated to all things YA Contemporary: For the Love of Contemporary

My book on Amazon


  1. Cindy this is great! I'm so glad you were doing this so I could find your blog. I love Jolene and her book. I am so impressed with her sewing skills - I could never make a costumes like that. Great interview with Jolene!

  2. Abby - I'm glad you found me, too! :o)

    I love Jolene also. She always makes me smile. I'm not much of a sewer either, and always admire those who seem to do it so effortlessly, and so well. It's a definite talent.

  3. Great interview. And another Utah connection. SUU, no less. I probably know this person... or at least saw her at some point.

    Anyway, I agree on the outlining (and character sketches for that matter) on being too confining. I usually have a rough idea of how things are going to get started and an even rougher idea of how they're going to end (even if it doesn't end that way) and then plot my way along.

    And only 11 words for the story description? You're tough, Cindy :)

    Paul D. Dail A horror writer's not necessarily horrific blog

  4. Paul - I thought 11 words was generous! lol