Thursday, August 7, 2014

Q & A with Jennifer Farwell

Cassidy Jordan knows she'll die a few weeks after her eighteenth birthday, and she can't wait. This is her second time here, and she knows what's waiting for her in The Life-After — the place most mistakenly call "the afterlife." Getting back there is supposed to be easy: she just has to find nineteen-year-old Riley Davis and help him get his life on track. But doing that isn't easy at all.
By the time Cassidy finds Riley, she has only seven weeks to help him before her time is up. Riley will die too young if she fails, and she'll never see The Life-After or have another chance at life again. But no one told her helping Riley would mean dating him; she hasn't dated anyone since the love of her first life caused her death the last time she turned eighteen. And no one warned her she'd cross paths with Selena Jensen, her ex-best-friend who hasn't forgotten why their friendship ended and is protective of Riley. Then there's Cassidy's family, who thinks she's a normal girl headed to Harvard in the fall. When her aunt discovers that's not the plan, she shows up to try and drag Cassidy from L.A. to Boston.
Helping Riley is already hard with her aunt and Selena in the way. It's almost impossible when Cassidy realizes she's falling for him and is faced with a choice: give Riley the life he's meant for and leave when it's time, or give up eternity for the true love she's never had, knowing Riley will die the same way she did in her first life and that her entire existence could end at any time.

Blogger's note: My review will post later today. Internet problems running late into the night make it difficult to concentrate on writing a review, but I wanted a blog post to run on time. Be on the look out!

Check out an interview with the author!

tell me about yourself, and your writing.

Right now I describe myself on my Twitter bio as an author, coffee-worshipper, Canadian expat, LA girl, and book nerd, and would add Kundalini yogini to that. Not a true yogini by the definition of the word, just someone who loves Kundalini yoga and who has been practicing it for 11 years. Writing has always been a huge part of my life, whether it's been novels, short stories, academic papers, blog posts, or articles.

How long have you been writing? How many published books do you have, and what genres?

I've been writing for as long as I can remember. I remember telling stories to my parents and having them write them down before I knew how to write, and I definitely remember writing stories as early as first grade. I have two published books right now, which are Seven Weeks to Forever and Rock Star's Girl. Seven Weeks to Forever is young adult (YA) romance, and although it has some metaphysical elements, it's grounded in a contemporary setting. Rock Star's Girl is chick lit.

Do you write in multiple genres or just one? If just one, do you ever consider straying outside your genre?

I write in multiple genres. Seven Weeks to Forever was my first foray into the YA world, and Rock Star's Girl was chick lit. I'm finishing up a sequel to Rock Star's Girl right now that I'd started writing a while ago, but then put on the backburner while working on Seven Weeks to Forever. The sequel is also chick lit. There's another novel I began working on during NaNoWriMo last year and it was being written as YA, but some ideas have come to mind since then that are tempting me to scrap what I have and rewrite it as new adult.

Are you a plotter or do you write from the seat of your pants?

I'm a mix of both right now. I wrote Rock Star's Girl by the seat of my pants, and I also wrote most of the first draft of Seven Weeks to Forever that way. Most of the time, a novel idea first comes to me in short scenes and I'll write out those scenes in pieces, then go back and develop the story more. The big things I want to have in place before I really get going are main character development — where the main character is at when the novel begins, and where she or he is at when the novel ends. I look to see if the character has grown and developed in some way, and then how and where to show that growth as it happens throughout the novel. Then I try to look at subplot and how to weave that in. If there are certain events I know need to happen, or that I've already had ideas for, I look at where those should happen, too. I'm not married to exactly what I outline, since new ideas come to me while I'm writing. I just find that high-level plotting means writing fewer scenes that go nowhere or get axed later on.

What is a typical writing day like for you?

I'm most productive when I start writing first thing in the morning. On days where I need to be somewhere by early or mid-morning, I'll sometimes wake up at 4:30 a.m. and write for two hours, and then take my dog for a walk and get ready for the day. If I don't need to be somewhere, I'll wake up, take my dog for a walk, then grab my laptop and a cup of coffee and just write.

Who do you love to read? Favorite authors, favorite books?

I read all over the place. YA, new adult, chick lit, women's fiction, adult contemporary fiction, and non-fiction are all genres I read often. I've been a huge Michael Ondaatje fan for years, and recently, I really loved The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence, Hexed by Michelle Krys, Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid, and If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman. I'm reading After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid right now.

What is something you'd like to accomplish in your writing career next year?

My biggest writing goal is to be able to write novels full time, and there are a lot of little steps toward that. I plan on releasing Hiding Out in Hollywood, the sequel to Rock Star's Girl in a few months, and I'd like to finish writing a fourth novel.

If you could have one paranormal ability, what would it be?

The ability to read minds! I think this would help a lot in life, especially in a world where we tend to do a lot more communication that isn't face-to-face than we did ten or fifteen years ago, so we often don't have visual cues like body language or verbal cues like tone of voice to really get our message across when we communicate with one another.

If you could keep a mythical/ paranormal creature as a pet, what would you have?

Does Snuffleupagus from Sesame Street count as a mythical creature? If yes, then I'd totally have Snuffy as a pet, but only if my dog got along with him and was cool with it.

Tell us a little about your latest release.

Seven Weeks to Forever is a YA romance that explores the power of young love and the theme of love versus fear, and it puts a new spin on the afterlife (called The Life-After in this book) and what it really is, as well as this life (called The Before in this book) and what it really is. The main characters are Cassidy Jordan, who's about to turn eighteen at the start of the novel, and Riley Davis, a nineteen-year-old guy Cassidy needs to help. Cassidy has already had a turn in this life, cut short at eighteen years old for reasons you'll have to read the book to find out. She was forced to return to The Before as a “second-timer” to help Riley, which will help her evolve so she's ready to stay in The Life-After, which at the start of the book is the place where she really wants to be.

The problem? By the time Cassidy finds Riley, she has only seven weeks to help him, and she still doesn't know what he needs help with. When she figures it out, she realizes that helping him will mean having to date him, and dating is something she hasn't done since her last life for what she thinks are very good reasons. If Cassidy isn't able to complete her job in those seven weeks, she won't return to The Life-After. She also won't be able to stay in her current life or get another chance at life, and Riley will die too young. And when she finds herself falling for Riley against her will, things get even more complicated.

What is something that you absolutely can't live without? (Other than family members)

Music. I listen to music all the time, whether I'm writing, driving, working, or relaxing.

Could you ever co author a book with someone? If so, who would you choose, and what would you write?

I think I could! I co-wrote a story with one of my good friends when I was in high school and it was a really fun experience. I think I'd write with my friend again — her name is Kelly — and we'd probably write a young adult novel.

If you could spend a day with anyone from history, dead or alive, who would it be, and what would you do? What would you ask them?

Oprah Winfrey, because she's an incredibly fascinating person and because I think she shares some of the views I have about being grateful and thanking the Universe. I'd love to ask her about her experiences with transcendental meditation since I believe strongly in the power of meditation.

What are some of your other hobbies outside of writing?

Kundalini yoga, hiking, and astrology. I run an astrology site called Starry Kind of Girl that I started purely out of a love for astrology. My favorite place to hike in LA is Runyon Canyon, since there are amazing views of the city there! And Kundalini yoga is something I love. For me, it's exercise, relaxation, meditation, stretching, and life coaching all in one.

If you were on the staff to have a book adapted to movie, what would you pick?

As an author, of course I'm tempted to say one of my books! But if my books were off-limits, I'd choose Between the Lines by Tammara Webber. I loved teen movies like Can't Hardly Wait and Ten Things I Hate About You when I was in high school, and Between the Lines would be a perfect teen movie!

What is a talent you wish you had, but don't?

Serving a volleyball, since I live somewhere where a lot of beach volleyball happens. I'm not sure if that counts more as a talent or a skill, but I've never been great at it! It took me a long time to figure out that I should be serving right-handed even though I'm left-handed, although my serve still isn't spectacular!

Favorite color?


Weather: Hot or cold?

Hot! I grew up in Canada, and as many Canadians will attest, winter can get pretty cold and sometimes involve a lot of snow. It’s great for skiing and outdoor ice-skating, but other than that, winter and I... well, we didn't exactly have a love affair going on. That's probably an understatement. Although, you know, shoveling off your car and scraping ice off of your windshield for a few months of the year is a pretty good way to keep your arms toned. The weather is honestly one of the top reasons why I now live in L.A.

Favorite place to read?

If it's a sunny day, then poolside, flopped out in a comfy lounge chair. If it's raining or cold, then curled up in my bed while buried under blankets.

Favorite meal

Crunchy spicy tuna sushi from Sushi Roku in LA.

Favorite non-alcoholic drink.

Coffee. Someone posted on Twitter once that "water is just potential coffee" and this pretty much sums up every morning for me.

If you could travel anywhere and do anything, no limits or money holding you back, where would you go?

Hmm, this is a tough one. If there are no limits, then I'd say time travel. If I’m limited to a place in the present day, though, I'd spend a couple of months in the UK. I'd go sightseeing, and I'd also want to try and reconnect with a pen pal I had in East Yorkshire growing up and have her show me all the non-touristy places she likes to go.


Jennifer Farwell has been writing since the day she picked up a navy blue Crayola as a toddler and began scribbling on her parents' freshly painted white walls. She's the author of SEVEN WEEKS TO FOREVER (her most recent novel), as well as ROCK STAR'S GIRL and its forthcoming sequel, HIDING OUT IN HOLLYWOOD (2015). When not writing novels, she can often be found at a Kundalini yoga class, cheering on the L.A. Kings during hockey season, or curled up with a good book. She grew up in Thunder Bay, Canada, and now lives in Los Angeles with her dog, Pico.

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