Today I am very happy to present an interview with Jennifer Bradbury, author of Shift, and Class of 2k8 member. On Friday, I will be reviewing Jennifer’s debut at Guys Lit Wire. Thanks for being here Jennifer!
At the center of Shift is a life-changing adventure. What adventure has most changed your life so far?
Wow. That’s a great question. I’d say parenting, but that’s sort of an easy one. Possibly working at a summer camp. I know that sounds terribly ordinary, but it represented a big risk for me to work at Camp Rockmont in Black Mountain, NC. I was one of very few women on staff, my responsibilities (working with the climbing and backpacking program) were things I had NO experience in, and I knew almost no one. There were also bears and industrial dishwashers. But very quickly, that summer became the most influential one of my life so far—and when I add up all the adventures and ways my life and outlook have been shaped by my time there, there really isn’t another experience that comes close.
Describe where you write.
I write in our bonus room (which we call the Rumpus, because that’s what the old lady we bought the house from called it). I can write anywhere, but it’s the furthest from where my daughter naps (in case I, you know, type too loudly). The chair I camp out in is sort of on the border between our office corner and the greater playroom, where all the toys and dolls and fake kitchen stuff are strewn about. And that feels like a good metaphor for my writing—when things are firing I’m sort of straddling the line between work and play.
Tell us about your writing process. Are you a planner / dedicated outliner, or do you tend to discover the story as you go along?
I’m a dedicated, regimented planner. I spend as much time outlining a first draft as I do in writing it. And there are plenty of surprises along the way, but I like to know where I’m going and if something has legs before I commit.
How is writing like going on a long bike trip? How is it different? (Aside from the fact that you don’t write in a helmet… we hope).
I quit wearing the helmet a while ago—it was handy for beating my head against the wall on frustrating days, though. But there are a lot of ways a trip and writing are similar. Primarily, despite all the encouragement–even if you have a partner–you’re still the one who has to push through to the end. And the major difference? Which body parts get sore. Thumbs versus . . . you know.
Writing Shift meant getting a teenage boy’s head. How did you do that? (I won’t ask you why you did it).
It was surprisingly easy, given the fact that I really wrestled with the choice to write from a male POV before starting. I guess I’ve spent enough time working with boys (both at the camp I mentioned earlier) and at the school where I taught to have a pretty decent sense of whether or not I was representing them accurately. Plus I was always the one of my three sisters who asked for He-Man or Transformers instead of Barbie. But in the end, I think what the book was really about—friendship, identity, independence—are human concerns and not tied to a gender. And for some reason, realizing that freed me a bit.
What’s the best writing advice you’ve given, and the best advice you’ve received?
I don’t think I give particularly good advice. Maybe I haven’t really been at this long enough to move beyond the basics: read everything, write as much as you can, and be satisfied with the telling of stories rather than the publishing of them. Come to think of it, those are the best pieces of advice I’ve received as well. Continue reading