Jenna Black Talks To Us: When Dreams Come True

Being a published author has been a dream for me ever since I was a little girl. Books have always been my passion, transporting me away from it all when the real world gets to be too much and letting me have fabulous adventures I would never really want to have. I also feel like books give me some insight into how other people think, give me a chance to take a surreptitious peek into the mind of someone who isn’t exactly like me.

With books having so prominent a role in my life, it’s no surprise that I turned to writing at a young age. I wrote my first book at the tender age of ten. It was an autobiography, complete with crayon illustrations and a construction paper cover. From then on, there was no stopping me.

I should have known it was my destiny to be a writer when I first stepped into my high school English class and discovered that it was taught by a man named Mr. Shakespeare. (Edward, not William, sorry to say.) He was the first person to encourage me to write fiction, and by the end of high school, I had completed what I considered to be my first novel. (In reality, it was a novella, but I knew nothing about manuscript lengths at the time.)

College saw the completion of my first real, full-length novel, and the beginning of an inkling that I might actually want to try to get my writing published. I dithered for a few years; then, in 1989, I decided I was going to get serious about my writing and try to become a professional. So started my sixteen-year journey toward publication.

Perhaps a sensible person would have quit sometime during those sixteen years. I mean seriously, how much rejection can one person stand? And how arrogant do you have to be to imagine that all those editors and agents who rejected your work were wrong? But, as is the case with many published authors, I couldn’t quit. This was my dream I was chasing, and every time I thought about quitting, I thought about lying on my deathbed someday and asking myself if I really did everything I possibly could to make my dream come true. I couldn’t stand the idea that the answer might be “no.” And so, I kept writing, and I kept submitting, and I kept hoping.

Ever since I sold Watchers in the Night, about eighteen months ago, I’ve had moments of hardly believing this was real. I had imagined the moment, had dreamed about it for so long, that somehow it was firmly ingrained in my mind as fantasy. (I say this in past tense, though I still have moments when I think I’m going to wake up from the dream.) For a while after the sale, I half-expected my editor to call and tell me there’d been some kind of mix-up, that it wasn’t really my book she’d wanted to buy, but someone else’s. Of course, that never happened, and I have since sold five more books to two different publishing houses–a feat that exceeds even the dreams I’d once had.

At the time of this posting, I have only a few more days to wait until my first book hits the shelves. I wonder if October 31st will be the day I finally believe my dream has come true? I suppose it would be nice to have that confident certainty. But then again, as long as I sometimes feel like it might be nothing but a dream, I have the continuous joy of waking up to discover it’s all for real after all!

Jenna Black
Watchers in the Night, coming October 31, 2006;
Secrets in the Shadows, 5/07; Shadows on the Soul, 9/’07
The Devil Inside (Bantam/Spectra urban fantasy), Fall ’07

She’ll be here to take comments and questions, people! (My bad, I forgot to add this)

5 Responses to “Jenna Black Talks To Us: When Dreams Come True”

  1. October 27, 2006 at 2:04 pm

    Can you share anything about The Devil Inside, Jenna?

  2. October 27, 2006 at 5:29 pm

    The Devil Inside is about Morgan Kingsley, a kick-ass exorcist who finds herself possessed by the king of the demons, who is embroiled in a war over the succession to the throne of the Demon Realm. I’m working on a more detailed, back-cover-style blurb about it, but I haven’t gotten it perfected yet.

  3. October 27, 2006 at 5:44 pm

    I can’t wait! It sounds absolutely wonderful!

  4. October 27, 2006 at 6:15 pm

    Sometimes I believe that someday I will be a published writer, which has been a goal on my “life list” for so many years I have lost count. Some days I feel as if that is a pipe dream that is left for someone that doesn’t have the busy life I have, and I should be happy with being a professional Technical Writer. I say face it, life doesn’t get slower when you are in your late 20’s, early 30’s, right? I look at the goal of seeing my stories on the shelves and sometimes I can *just* touch it, other times its faded. Is it still in mesh with who I am now?

    I have so many books I have started to write, then left them… my writing comes in spurts. I wonder if I am in love with the idea of being a writer, instead of just being a writer… and I get discouraged when I wrestle with that.

    I know every writer goes through this self-discouragement, and the ones that write through it are the ones who succeed. No matter how many times I re-read my dog-eared Pen on Fire or Wild Mind, sometimes it just doesn’t come. I understand the creative process is a fickle mistress (or mister *wink*) and so far, I have let it ebb and flow with my life. I don’t have a choice really. I want to force it, but when I force it, I feel like I write rubbish. Argh…

    Oi, the whining is so loud, I need to go get cheese *grin* I guess what I am trying to say is kudos to you for working through all the muck that is a writers brain when discouragement and rejection is rife… you did it! You came out the other side!

  5. October 28, 2006 at 3:28 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story, Jenna! 🙂

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