Hey everyone! Happy Sunday morning! Today, we’re hosting a new-to-me author Evangeline Jennings. It’s my pleasure to introduce her to the rest of y’all. She’s here to share her journey as a writer. It’s a bit windy and unique, which is why I love to hear these stories. No two authors travel the same path. There are so many ways to arrive at the same place.
Are We There Yet?
by Evangeline Jennings
My adventures in writing have taken me on a roundabout journey. Four years ago, I set off driving, pedal to the metal, in entirely the wrong direction. I went big. I banged out the first volume of a planned trilogy in no more than three months. One hundred and twenty-five thousand words of noir brutality, Puta was what Tarantino would call a roaring bloody rampage of revenge. I submitted it with confidence.
Harper Collins liked Puta enough to keep it for six months before asking me to rewrite it and turn my opening volume into two distinct stories. When I told them I already had a trilogy planned, their corporate jaw dropped and things went deathly quiet.
A reviewer at Publishers Weekly said Puta was ‘extreme and not for the fainthearted. However, her story is gripping and fast-paced, and keeps the reader rooting for her even when she’s at her very worst.’
So far so good. People liked my story and they thought I could write. But by this time I’d been living with Puta for a year and I could see each and every flaw. Rather than take the time to fix them all, which would have been hard, I decided to write something else. This went on for a while.
Three novels later, something had to change. I slammed on the brakes, turned the car around, and tried my hand at short fiction instead. My thinking was simple. A short story would be easier and quicker to write, and might also serve as a learning experience. So I wrote and placed a couple of short stories in collections and then I wrote Niagara, my first Kindle single.
A reviewer described Niagara as a ‘novel in 10,000 words’. It was also, she said, ‘grimly powerful, dark, distinctive, disturbing and impossible to put down’.
And ‘absolutely not for everyone’.
Writing and revising Niagara taught me a great deal about technique and subtlety. I also discovered who I might be as a writer and what it was I needed to talk about. Niagara asked important questions. Is violence passed through the generations? What influence can women have, and how can deprivation or education disrupt the cycle? How do we judge success in such circumstances?
I was very pleased with Niagara, but was I there yet? No. I continued writing short fiction. I wrote YA. I wrote pornography – mostly girl on girl, frequently BDSM. My next Kindle single was Valentina, a lesbian love story with a high body count, and then I wrote No Christmas, my third and final single.
A dystopian short story set a year from now, No Christmas talks about family values, healthcare, and abortion. It rages against the dying of the light in America. And goes out with a bang. I’m proud of the writing and prouder still of the story itself. Which, again, is ‘absolutely not for everyone’.
Each of my published short stories – eleven, so far – has been a significant step in my development as a writer. Piece by piece, I have become a stronger technician, a better story-teller, and more certain of my own identity.
It’s almost a commonplace that all aspiring writers should start with short fiction, but in my experience, most of us don’t. In my case that was a serious mistake.
My brand new book, Riding in Cars with Girls, is a themed crime fiction collection of interlinked short stories and novellas. Noir as fuck, mostly queer, and entirely feminist, it’s everything I would have wanted Puta to be.
Riding in Cars with Girls is also my last adventure in short fiction for a year. It’s time to open up Puta again and see what I can do with what I’ve learned. Maybe this time around, I can do my first story proud. And if not, we begin again. For writers, I believe, the road goes on forever.
Born and raised in Liverpool where they invented both football and popular music, Evangeline Jennings now lives in Austin, Texas. The black sheep of her family, she comes from a long line of Californian beauty queens on her mother’s side. Evangeline gets her looks from her father. Mostly Evangeline writes stories about girls. She believes in equality, so she writes about that. She also writes about gender, sexuality, and violence against women. Her characters often seek bloody satisfaction. Sometimes they find it.
Universal Buy Link for Riding in Cars with Girls – http://getbook.at/Evie
(99c on Kindle for the first two weeks)