Interview with J. Lynn Else
When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
Writing has always been a part of my life. In middle school, one of my friends gave me a hard-cover blank book on my birthday--that’s how much I talked about books and writing my own stories. As a teen, I participated in writing clubs. When Star Trek: The Next Generation was on TV, I remember hearing they accepted unsolicited scripts from writers. I thought, ‘Yes! I read, watch, and breathe Star Trek!’ (Pardon my nerd) While a full script never came to fruition (I had a lot of short stories though!), I did also tinker with an X-Files script and participated in scriptwriting classes in college.
When I was a young mom, I wrote and illustrated my own children’s books. The submission process for publishing houses in the early 2000s was a very long process. Since then, self-publishing has presented tremendous opportunities for new authors. It can be hard to find the right publisher or agent. But if you have the drive to invest in marketing, develop a social presence, fund an editor, and fund a quality cover artist, it’s an exciting thing. After self-publishing my first novel, I would think, ‘I’m holding my book in hand, and I can place it on the shelf next to Harry Potter.’ Now that’s a unique feeling.
What inspires you to write?
I had lots of pen pals growing up. My letters were, like, three to four pages about what was going on, hopes and dreams for the future, and other things pre-teen girls talk about. That helped me to learn how to write from the heart. I’ve always been good at free writing, which is writing without stopping or editing or overthinking. Just writing.
I like reading and writing about women from antiquity. Studying and imagining what their lives would have been like despite societal constraints fascinates me. I went to a great exhibit at the Minnesota Science Museum about King Tut. While there’s a lot known about King Tut, very little is known about his wife. I began researching and found a fascinating story I wanted to give life to. Bringing stories like hers forward motivates me. The result of this was my first book, “The Forgotten: Aten’s Last Queen.”
What advice can you give to a young writer?
First, read the genre you’re writing in. What do you feel works? What doesn’t work and why? What plot elements did you find predictable? Learn from what you read. If something excites you, how can you recreate that feeling in your stories?
Second, I’ve found a lot of benefit being a part of writing groups. A group I’m very active in is the Rochester Fantastical Women. They’re friends who read early drafts of my stories, a listening ear I can vent to when I’m frustrated, or cheerleaders when I’m feeling down. They’ve helped support me during events by spreading the word or helping with sales. Your writing voice is something you need to develop on your own, but having supportive people around you is empowering. My writing friends help make me a better, more confident writer.
Do you have any good online resources to share?
Because it's about Star Trek and writing…
4 Things Star Trek Can Teach Us About Writing: https://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/there-are-no-rules/4-things-star-trek-can-teach-us-about-writing?et_mid=626972&rid=233468666
Jeffrey Carver‘s Advice for Writers: https://www.starrigger.net/on-writing/writing-advice/advice/
4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Publishing Your First Novel: https://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/01/advice-on-writing-and-publishing-your-first-novel/?utm_source=BBeNews&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=BB1311