PNR: Can you tell
us a little about how you started writing; was it something
you have always wanted to do?
Jennah S.: I’ve always
had the tendency to write down stories from the time I could
hold a pencil. When I was a teen, I focused primarily on
poetry, as most teens who write do, but loved my creative
writing courses. It wasn’t until I was married and on a
camping trip that I thought I might try a novel. I’d read
so many books and kept thinking, I could do that. I had
many requests from editors for the manuscript but no one
bit. I self-published that one just so I could have it in
my hands. When I published with Cobblestone a year ago, I
jumped at the chance to create more stories and haven’t
PNR: Could you
tell us about your writing routine, how do you balance
writing and personal time? What do you enjoy doing when you
are not writing?
Jennah S.: This is the
trickiest part about writing because my kids are still so
young. Every other day, I have both of them in school and
that’s when I try to write. It’s much harder to find time
in the summer. I find I write best in the evenings and so I
save my promotions and email for the mornings. I’m not sure
I have a great routine down yet, but I’m working on it.
not writing I love alpine skiing in the winter, swimming in
our lake in the summer, camping, playing with the kids and
of course, reading.
PNR: Who or what
has been your biggest influence as a writer? Who or what has
been your biggest support?
Jennah S.: My biggest
influence has to be Rosamunde Pilcher. I adore her
descriptive style and her characters. She wrote The Shell
Seekers among many other novels.
biggest support has been and always will be my husband. He
doesn’t read what I write but he knows it’s my dream and I
think his ulterior motive is that he wants to be a kept man.
He has a long wait ahead of him ;)
PNR: Your writing
is very popular with readers and reviewers. How does it feel
to have such positive recognition for your work?
Jennah S.: Wow. I
hadn’t really thought of it that way. Thank you. I love
reading good reviews on my work. They validate my craft and
keep me writing but I’m always on edge waiting for the next
PNR: What do you
consider to be the key elements of a great story?
Jennah S.: I would say
characters with flaws, a setting to help the reader escape,
believable conflict. I love a hero who isn’t the perfect
ideal of a man and a heroine who I can relate to. There
are so many elements to a great story that it’s hard to
narrow it down.
Congratulations on the March 2007 release of THE OCEAN’S
SHADOW from Samhain Publishing. Could you give us a peek at
this fascinating world you have created? Are you planning
additional stories in this setting?
Jennah S.: I love this
story too and I had a blast writing it. It flowed so
smoothly and the cover by Anne Cain is perfect. The Ocean’s
Shadow is set in a fictional, slightly historical setting.
I say “slightly” because I don’t want to date the story.
It’s set in a time when mer people where not just myth.
They existed, caused trouble, fought their fears and loved.
and Claire are very special to me. I would love to write
more stories in this setting and I know readers would like
that too, but I have a few more characters vying for
attention. It’s up in the air right now. I’d be interested
in hearing from readers who’d like more in this setting.
PNR: STORM SURGE,
released October 2006 from Cobblestone Press has been a
reader and reviewer favorite. Could you tell us a little
about Mia and Tydon’s story; what was your inspiration and
do you have plans to visit Utopia Camping in future books?
Jennah S.: Thank you.
I’m very proud of Storm Surge. It’s about a coming together
of souls who are meant for each other, as most of my stories
are. It’s set in a small village on a fictional island but
is based on the town of Cabarete in the Dominican Republic.
Cabarete is known for it’s windsurfing and if you’ve read
Storm Surge and been to Cabarete, you’d recognize the
Mia is a
cryptozoologist, which means she studies and searches for
beings that don’t exist to others and as such, she’s never
really fits in with society. Mermen fall into the category
she studies. When she hears of a possible sighting, she
journeys to this island and stays at Utopia Camping, a small
settlement on the beach.
a merman able to shift to human form. He interacts with the
locals, trying to learn more about who might be out to
capture his kind. When he meets Mia, he’s instantly
attracted to her and must resist telling her his secret.
PNR: Can you tell
us about the challenges you face in world building and
making it work with the ideas you have in mind for the
progression of your characters and their story? Do you write
your characters to fit the world you have created or vice
Jennah S.: To be
honest, the characters seem to evolve along with the world
building. They’re intertwined too much to say one comes
before the other. They compliment each other. There is
always a bit of the contemporary in the stories so that
makes it easier. The other worlds aren’t too difficult to
build, especially when I’m innately drawn to the sea and
have always had a fascination with mythology.
PNR: Do you feel
your writing is character driven or plot driven? How do you
balance these two elements?
Jennah S.: I’d have to
say it’s primarily plot driven although I strive to create
real, full characters who are facing the challenges of
loving one another. I think that’s what balances it out.
You have to have strong, great characters even for a plot
driven story. Her Handyman, is my most character driven
book to date. It’s available at Total E-Bound Publishing, a
new company in Britain.
very important to me when I’m reading. Stories that are
strongly character driven don’t hold my attention as well.
PNR: You have
been complimented for writing strong heroines and sexy
heroes. Could you tell us a little about how you develop
your characters? Who has been your favorite character to
write? The most challenging?
Jennah S.: Many of my
characters come to me almost complete. I come up with the
setting first and then think of what happens there. Who it
happens to comes next. Why are they there, what do they
need, why can’t they achieve it? Those are all questions
that help build a character. From there, it’s all in the
favourite character has to be Sera from Along the Hibiscus
Path. The decisions in her life were ones that I would
probably have made in similar circumstances and she was
probably the easiest to write. Her story is close to my
difficult is a toss up between Ailfinn from The Ocean’s
Shadow and Daerek Sawyer from The Rift (just released).
These two heroes didn’t want to share their secrets. They’re
stubborn and a little dark at times. It was like uprooting
dandelions getting their stories from them.
PNR: The heat
level in your writing is quite high; do you find it
difficult to write love/sex scenes? How do you approach
writing the love/sex scenes?
Jennah S.: It was
difficult at first. When I decided I was going to write
explicitly, I practiced. I would just write out sex scenes
until the internal embarrassment disappeared. It didn’t
take long and now I don’t stop writing if a love scene is
coming up. It has to have a natural flow. All I do is keep
the bedroom door open and write down what happens next. If
I stop writing before a love scene, it’s much harder to pick
it up again because I need to remember the emotions of the
scene before. Does that make sense?
reading, I always feel cheated when I’m so involved with the
characters lives and emotions and can’t see the culmination
of what the story has been leading up to. I try not to cheat
PNR: Mythology of
the mer and selkie has long captured the imagination of
readers. Why do you feel mythology in general, and mer and
selkie specifically, is such a popular theme with readers?
As a writer, what is it about this genre that captures your
Jennah S.: I think it’s
both the allure of the sea and the mystery that captures my
imagination. I’ve always lived on water and couldn’t do
without seeing it every morning. I even chose my university
based (not solely) on that fact that a river ran through the
center of campus. I think water calls to many of us and the
idea that a partially human being could live there is
is known about mythological beings. That provides writers
like myself with a gold mine of story ideas and the ability
to expand and build on what is already there.
PNR: You have
written in many genres including fantasy, paranormal,
erotic, contemporary, and historical. Is there a genre you
haven’t written but would like to try?
Jennah S.: I think I’m
finally settling into my niche. I prefer to write
fantasy/paranormal with a touch of the erotic. I might like
to try futuristic sometime. We’ll see.
PNR: Please tell
us about the projects you are currently working on; what can
readers expect to see in the coming months? Do you have any
new series in the works? Single titles?
Jennah S.: I have a new
series just beginning with Cobblestone Press that I’m really
excited about. Shifting Sideways Book 1: The Rift was
released in July and is the first in a series of three.
These are contemporary/fantasy novellas.
Lost in a land she knows nothing about, Charlotte clings to
the one thing she feels a connection with...Daerek Sawyer, a
man trying to save his land from a mysterious threat. A
mere brush of his lips on hers forces her to choose between
the life she left behind or the man she'd die for.
As far as
single titles, I’m working on two full-length books. Both
have paranormal elements. The first is tentatively titled
Empath, the second is The Forbidden Gypsy. I hope to have
them both completed before Christmas.
have a short Frontier Heatsheet coming out with Phaze in
September and will hopefully have more out with Total
E-Bound and Cobblestone this Fall.
PNR: Thank you,
Jennah, for taking time out to speak with us. Where can
readers find out what's new and how can they contact you?
Jennah S.: Thank you so
much for inviting me. I love it when readers contact me. I
have a sneak peek page on my website for my upcoming books
along with a newsletter. If readers sign up, they receive
all the news before anyone else and are in line for special
benefits and prizes. Contests are happening all the time.
everyone will drop by my site at
also find me hanging out at the following places:
www.cobblestone-press.com (mainstreet forum)