Jaimie: Today we welcome Jennifer Duffey, one third of Willow Bend Publishing Group, to the blog. Jennifer is a classic movie buff, a mother, writer, and an accomplished formatter. Jennifer, out of your many published works, which project has been your favorite to work on?
Jennifer: I’d have to say my novel, The Face in the Mirror, was my favorite project to work on. It definitely holds a special place for me. I set out to tell a very specific story and I feel like I accomplished exactly what I wanted to with that book.
Jaimie: Your novels are all set in the south and generally involve the element of romantic love. Do you ever think you will branch into another genre? Poetry perhaps?
Jennifer: I’m currently looking at several other genres including a dystopian trilogy and an action/adventure novel. Unfortunately, I’m not much of a poet so I don’t see branching into that arena any time soon.
Jaimie: We have both been writers for as long as we can remember. Do you remember the first thing you wrote either as a child or an adult where you realized that you could make a career out of writing?
Jennifer: I remember writing a story in the 3rd grade. It was during some free time for the day and many of the other kids were playing or talking, but there I was writing. I can remember one of my classmates also wrote a story and the teacher decided to read them both. She then proclaimed his was better which was wrong because mine clearly was. I think I’ve known since that time that one day I would be a writer.
Jaimie: Your novel Beneath the Mulberry Tree holds a special place in your heart. Can you tell us more about the history behind it.
Jennifer: Beneath the Mulberry Tree is based on my parents and my dad’s fight against cancer. It’s a story of the love that they shared in one of the most difficult times for our family. I always knew that I wanted to tell that story, but it honestly took over a decade before I was emotionally ready to delve into it thoroughly. It will always be the most emotional one for me.
Jaimie: How long did it take you to write that novel?
Jennifer: I actually finished Beneath the Mulberry Tree very quickly. From start to finish, it took about two months for everything. I was on a bit of a time crunch because it was a Christmas present for my mom.
Jaimie: How did it feel to see it in print?
Jennifer: Seeing my first book in print was a bit of a surreal experience. It was both terrifying and exciting. I suppose many authors go through that when they finally get their novel in their hands.
Jaimie: Your collection of short stories, Speak to the Heart, has been available for almost four years. How has it been received?
Jennifer: The feedback has been very positive. Short stories are always fun to write. I hope to complete another collection within the next few years.
Jaimie: Mental health is a topic that I am passionate about and incorporate into a lot of my work. Is there a particular topic that you find yourself writing about a lot?
Jennifer: The primary theme that runs through all of my works to date is love. Whether it’s the love of your spouse, the love for yourself, or the pain of lost love, that is a very important force that I enjoy exploring in my books.
Jaimie: Speaking of love, your latest novel, Til the Stars Stop Shining, is a love story. What was the hardest thing about writing this novel?
Jennifer: I would have to say that the medical aspect of that story was extremely difficult for me. Not being the most scientifically minded person, I initially had quite a few plot holes in the first draft that had to be addressed. Thank God for a good editor who really helped me tie everything together and create a story that I can be proud of.
Jaimie: Thank you! I appreciate the compliments. When will your next novel be released?
Jennifer: My goal is to have a novel out by mid summer.
Jaimie: Besides being an author, you are an accomplished formatter for fellow writers. What is that process like and how do you think it helps a writer to have proper formatting in their published works?
Jennifer: I really enjoy working with other authors and creating a well formatted book. My overall process is fairly straightforward. After the book has been thoroughly edited, I get to work. I work with the author and determine what exactly they’re looking for with their project. Once I have an idea of what they want, I layout the interior of the book for either print ready or in an e-book format. Both versions have their own unique requirements. For me, it is vitally important to have a professional book interior. It’s one of the first things, besides a cover, that can set you apart as an amateur or a professional. I often catch myself scanning books in the bookstores to look for new trends.
Jaimie: It is definitely true that many readers judge a book by its cover. I know I appreciate the work you put into my books and the projects our clients trust us with. Thank you for joining me today to introduce yourself and answer a few questions.
Founded in July of 2017, Southern Willow Publishing provides a comprehensive selection of services for today’s independent author.