This week I was able to interview mom and published author, Jennifer Millikin.
She is inspiring.
When I grow up as a writer I want to be just like her. She has two published books, a gorgeous site, and yet is a down-to-earth mom who doesn’t always have time to put on make up.
Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed, Jennifer!
- Let’s start with the best part. What’s your family like?
My family is full of personality. The moments are never dull. My kids have deep souls. My 6 year old son once described a sunrise we watched in our backyard as the sun grabbing onto the top of the mountain. My writer heart practically wept with happiness! My four-year-old daughter is full of joy and sass. She’s petite (she gets it from her mama!) and what she lacks in height she makes up for in moxie. She wants to be a scientist and a pop-star when she grows up. Both children carry around small notebooks to record their thoughts, events of the day, or scores to a football game they’ve watched. My husband works hard to take care of us, and he loves what he does. The kids adore him and I’m old news the second Dad gets home from work. We go on family hikes, have dance parties in the play room, and traverse the wash behind our house looking for desert wildlife.
2. You’ve published two books. Please, tell us about them.
The idea for my first book, Full of Fire, came to me in a dream. It was one of those vivid, was-that-actually-real dreams. I pantsed the writing of it until I ran out of story, then I went back and used a book on structure to help me fill in the holes. I have such fondness for Full of Fire because it was totally, completely made up. I joke that as a writer I’m actually a part-time liar. Full of Fire was me at my part-time liar job. And I love the protagonist and her sass. I based her off an adult version of my daughter. My second book, The Day He Went Away, is something I worked on for nine years before it was published. It’s fiction based on fact, and it was not easy to write.
Essentially, The Day He Went Away is the story of how my husband and I met. I’m told it’s a tearjerker. It’s a deeply personal story, but I decided to write it for a few reasons. First, it’s a unique story. It deserved telling. Second, it helped me shed my skin, so to speak. Writing it took away the layers I use to protect myself and left me bare, and I knew sharing it would mean I would show my scarred soul to the whole world. But something magical happened when I shed my skin. I stopped caring about protecting my scars and began to see them as beautiful. As a part of me. As something that shaped me and made me who I am now. I stopped feeling like a victim of fate. The other reason I wrote The Day He Went Away was to help people who are grieving. Showing them there is a lesson in all the pain, even when it takes you years to learn it, was important to me. Collect the experience, examine it, learn from it, let it mold you, and be happy.
3. How many hours a day do you write, and how do you manage that with children around?
I wish I could say I write more than I do. I aim for 500 words/day, and I have to be flexible. I’m child-free (thanks to pre-k and k) for 9 nine hours a week. And I’d be lying if I said I use those 9 hours to write. I have mouths to feed, a home to clean, and a body to exercise. Sometimes, those things take precedence. Sometimes, they don’t. I look at my schedule for the week, determine what’s needed of me, and then pencil in my writing time. It’s all a balancing act. I’ve also learned that all I need is 30 minutes, a specific story goal, and I can bang out 500 words. But that requires a good outline, or at least a solid scene goal, to happen.
4. What do you wish someone would ask you, but no one does?
I wish someone would ask me how I’m doing, be a writer too, and actually listen. I keep waiting for that magic person to appear, the one who is also an author in my genre and understands my woes and frustrations. The thing about writing is that it is a lonely job. The only person who knows all the people in my current work-in-progress is me. So when I’m not writing and I’m thinking about the characters, I can’t talk to anyone else about them!
5. What advice can you give to mothers who aspire to be a writer like you?
My advice? If you want to be a writer, be a writer. Do it. Period. I have so many mom friends who flounder, who feel they’ve lost themselves. The baby days go by quickly, the toddler days will be behind you before you know it, and they need you less and less. You have to make your passion a priority. Whatever you love doing, let your kids see you doing it. You already know they learn from watching you. You’re a person too, and letting them see Mom as a person who is more than their caretaker is a lesson every kid needs to learn. Also, there will always be another bottle to wash, a basket of laundry to fold, a meal to prep. But the words in your head? They will disappear if you don’t write them down.
Thank you again Jennifer. I had so much fun getting to know you.
You can find out more about Jennifer and buy her books Here
What author do you aspire to be like? Let us know in the comments!