Author Spotlight Interview: Jennifer Ann Shore
Today’s interview is with bestselling indie author Jennifer Ann Shore. Jennifer writes romance novels ranging from dystopian to vampire to adult and young adult, and it was an absolute pleasure to get to know more about her writing style, life outside of writing and upcoming projects!
HG: How would you describe yourself to somebody who isn’t familiar with your writing yet?
JAS: I’m Jennifer Ann Shore! I write witty and plot-driven romance books that go a bit deeper than the standard tropes.
HG: Before you published your first book, you had a career in journalism and marketing. What inspired you to give fiction writing a go?
JAS: For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a writer.
In college, while studying journalism, I toyed with the idea of writing magazine features or possibly even working at a publishing house, but ultimately, after a few freelance jobs at newspapers and online publications, I kind of fell into marketing. And honestly, I loved it.
It’s odd to say this now, but at the time, social media was still so new and untapped, and I had just as much fun creating graphics and interacting with people online as I did writing content. It was also interesting to me to be in a field where technology was rapidly expanding, so I was never without the opportunity to learn or try something new—which I’ve definitely carried over into my book marketing. (I just created and released a book trailer last week, actually!)
As my career moved forward, while climbing the somewhat grueling corporate ladder in New York, I was a little desperate for a creative outlet. I never lost the love for writing—it just got put into a different box for a bit—and I regularly came up with story ideas that collected dust into a massive Google Sheet.
Inspiration that I couldn’t stop fixating on came about one Saturday morning when I woke up from a dream that was in a totally different world. I remembered random snippets of ships and islands and a love interest, and as I woke up, my mind raced and I had to get it out. So I grabbed my computer and sat on the couch for six hours and just dumped as much as I could into a document.
Eventually, that book became New Wave, the first book in my dystopian series. (Interestingly enough, the original scene I envisioned for the book won’t make an appearance until book three.)
I spent eighteen months working on the book—sending it to various editor friends for their thoughts and feedback—before ultimately deciding to self-publish it and put it out in the world. I didn’t even really feel comfortable calling myself an “author” at the time because I just saw it as something I did to share my writing.
It was my second book, The Extended Summer of Anna and Jeremy, a cute little novella, that changed everything for me. Without delving too deep into all the personal details, that book was really therapeutic and wonderful for me to write. It took about two months from ideation to publication—and it was my first Amazon bestseller!
That was really when I thought, “wow, this whole indie author thing is pretty cool, and I’m loving doing this…I wonder what it will take for me to make it all go.” Everything snowballed from there.
Fast forwarding to now, I’ve published ten books and have learned so much through research and making a ton of mistakes. I’m in love with the entire indie publishing process—everything from outlining and drafting to laying out the book design-wise and doing marketing for myself is a lot of fun. (And it also helps that I’m a little bit of a control freak!)
HG: What an awesome journey! Thank you for sharing that with us. You’ve written adult romance, young adult romance, dystopian and vampires. How do you switch gears between projects, genres? Do you have a favorite genre to write in or one that is easiest for you?
JAS: It’s an understatement to say I’ve learned a lot since publishing my first book. I was definitely a little ambitious coming right out with a dystopian novel and building out that entire world, but as I mentioned, it was just what called to me at that time. I didn’t know that it would ultimately be something I would want to build on as a series. (I was hopeful but not completely certain!)
And as far as the vampire series, this is actually an interesting tidbit I like to share with people: I’ve always loved vampire stories and have consumed as much content in the genre as I could, not to mention I once spent Halloween in New Orleans with Living Vampyres, and I also took a course in college that was, essentially, a study of vampire culture throughout the decades and how it mirrored human behavior…
I knew, eventually, I’d want to tell my own vampire story, and it came about with Metallic Red. I’ve read so many great “human falls in love with a vampire” stories, and I wanted to put my own spin on it with a vampire who wants to try a human life and spends a lot of time trying not to sink her fangs into her friends.
All that said, my absolute favorite thing to write at the moment is my standalone young adult romances. I love being able to tell sweet, coming of age romances with characters that are trying to find themselves, and I think some of my strongest writing to date is in those books.
From a strictly author/business standpoint, it probably is not in my best interest to keep switching genres, but I can’t help it. I hope that as long as I am passionate and can tell an interesting story, people will continue to enjoy them enough to let me have the creative freedom.
HG: That’s really cool. It must be fun to dabble in each of those areas. You tend to write books with uplifting strong women that don’t fall into the standard romance tropes. Tell us more about that and why it’s important to you.
JAS: Oh, yes! This is so important to me.
Frankly, it’s really hard for me to write characters that I myself wouldn’t want to be with. I don’t put up with bullshit or toxicity in my relationships or friendships, and I don’t think my protagonists should either.
I love reading a really dark and sexy romance story, but from a personal writing standpoint, I’ve been unable (and I have really tried, trust me) to write characters that inherently treat each other poorly or have unnecessary drama, which is why my books tend to have the big conflict outside of their relationship.
For example, In the Now is, at its core, an enemies to lovers story. Noah bullied Olivia endlessly in high school, and when she returns to her hometown after a decade, they bump into each other again and again. I wouldn’t have been able to put them together if he was still the arrogant prick he was when they were teenagers, but he makes a strong case for reformation and proves that he’s worth Olivia’s time now. To me, that’s a redeemable, lovable character who owns up to his mistakes, and they’re able to build toward something new together.
I carry that same mentality into my teen romances, and frankly, I think it’s even more important that I do so with this age group. Writing strong women who are passionate about their dreams, goals, and finding themselves is representative of teenagers today.
Also, on a personal note, all of my protagonists are just as passionate as I am about social and political issues as well as supporting LQBTQ+ and other communities that are discriminated against, which again, isn’t the standard you see in romance books.
HG: Wow. Yes. I love what you say about not writing characters you wouldn’t want to be with. Loving the message this sends! So, how do you come up with character names?
JAS: I have a running list of names I’ll hear randomly and jot down, and then when it comes to naming characters, I’ll visit the list or spend a lot of time randomly searching for lists of names on the internet and see if anything fits what I’m picturing.
The easiest character I’ve ever named was Mina from my vampire series—her name is an intentional nod to Mina Harker, a character in both Nosferatu and Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
HG: How fun! Your latest book Perfect Little Flaws is a young adult romance that just released in June. Can you tell us a little bit about the main characters and what readers will love about this story?
JAS: Maren Montgomery is a high school senior who, after the death of her brother, wants absolutely nothing to do with the sport he excelled at or the reputation he left behind. She spends most of her days hiding behind her camera or indulging in ice cream and listening to snarky comments courtesy of her best friend Andy (he/they). Maren is pretty content to coast until graduation and get away from all the sadness and reminders of who she has lost.
But everything changes when Vince Novak, a budding soccer star, transfers to her school. She gets a killer opportunity to photograph him for the biggest paper in the city, but it comes with a cost of facing her past demons head on and spending more time with Vince, who is intent on shattering her late brother’s records and getting to know her.
I hope that readers will love flawed characters who learn to be themselves and appreciate the things that aren’t “perfect” but make us no less worthy of anything we want in life—especially love.
HG: If Perfect Little Flaws was made into a movie, who would you cast?
JAS: I don’t know if this is an author thing or just specific to me, but when I’m writing, I’ll usually have one or two fancasts in mind and the rest of the people are kind of blurs with some of their defining traits.
For Perfect Little Flaws, I mentally pictured Eli Goree (from his days on The 100) as Vince, so if we have a time machine or don’t mind casting someone who is now in his late twenties as a teenager…that would work! Also, it’s fitting that I’ve been using songs from Olivia Rodrigo’s album to promote this book on TikTok because she is absolutely how I picture Maren and would be a great fit.
HG: I can see it! What feeling do you want to leave people with when they finish one of your novels? Does it differ from young adult to adult romance?
JAS: Although, as we’ve chatted about, I do switch genres, I hope that people generally enjoy the way I tell stories. I think regardless of whether someone picks up Metallic Red or In the Now, they can expect to read a story with complex and in-depth characters, witty dialogue, self-discovery, and a bit of love.
You know when you read a book you enjoy and you’re a little devastated to see it end? And when you finish you sigh in sadness and also in relief that it was so lovely to spend your time in that world? That’s what I aim for.
HG: Ahh, perfect. Switching gears, tell us a little bit about your actual writing process. Did it change during the pandemic? When and where do you write?
JAS: I’m such a nerd for process! I’d love to share more.
Right before the pandemic hit, I made the decision to double down into writing and actually quit my full-time marketing director job to do consulting work and free up my time for book stuff.
While my days can vary a bit, typically when drafting, I write between 3,000 and 5,000 words a day, and it will take me about three weeks to finish the first draft. After that, I’ll take a break from it while I get another project back from one of my editors or my proofreader (depending on where the other books are at in the process), and then I’ll have two weeks to edit the first draft and write the second, then it goes through the various stages of the process. (I use a copy/development editor, then an alpha/sensitivity reader, then a proofreader, then beta readers.)
My publishing schedule is pretty aggressive for the rest of 2021—I’ll be putting out a book every other month, and with that in mind, I have to work backward on deadlines to include all the steps of writing, editing, designing, proofreading, etc., in the process. Not to mention coordinating so many books at once! It’s a bit of an assembly line, but it works for me.
As far as my specific writing schedule when I’m sitting down at my desk, I’ll cue up my private Pinterest board of inspiration, my running document of cut scenes, my character guides, and whatever Spotify playlist fits the mood of what I’m writing, then I’ll go for it!
HG: Sounds like you have a great system in place. Speaking of Spotify, what’s on your playlist while you write?
JAS: Music is crucial to my writing. I know some authors see it as distracting, but it really helps put me in the right headspace for what tone I’m trying to set.
I’ve actually created/mentioned a few playlists that have been incorporated directly into my work:
- “Anna’s Alternative Playlist” from The Extended Summer of Anna and Jeremy
- “Eloise’s Fierce Women Playlist” from Metallic Red
- “French Indie Playlist” from The Stillness Before the Start
But more often than not, I’m listening to my personal favorite playlist I created called “The Perfect Emo-Indie Depression Mix.”
HG: Fantastic! Now, what would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
JAS: I had a reviewer recently say something that I think was supposed to be a negative, but I actually wholeheartedly agree and see it as just part of my style—and it’s that sometimes, I have a melancholy tone in my writing.
It’s an odd thing to happen in romance, but I think it’s because I tend to go “deeper” than most others do in the genre (not knocking them…I LOVE all types of romance books, honestly), and it probably also doesn’t help that, as I mentioned above, I continuously listen to sad music while I’m writing.
HG: What do you like to do when not writing?
JAS: When I’m not writing, I’m almost always reading, going out on dessert quests with my husband, or taking my dog to the park. I’m a little bit of a homebody, but I do like to go out on long walks and get a break from screen time when I can.
HG: Fun! If you could ask your author idol one question about their writing, writing process, or books, what would it be?
JAS: Back when I was a journalist, I actually got to interview a ton of writers—authors, poets, musicians—when they visited my college and when I worked as a literary reporter at a newspaper in New York. It was really fun and informative for me so early in my career to get to ask these types of questions and learn from them.
But when I look back, my all-time favorite interview was with my favorite poet, Stephen Dunn. He was so kind and gracious, and if you’ve ever read any of his work, it’s absolutely brilliant. I hype up his poetry fairly hard in my book In the Now because it’s so gut-wrenchingly beautiful. I can only hope to someday write something a fraction as good as he has.
HG: How fantastic! Before we wrap up, what can you tell us about any projects you have in the works?
JAS: I’ll be announcing my August release soon, which is going to be an adult rockstar romance! As I mentioned, I’ll be publishing every other month for the rest of the year, and it’ll be a mix of teen and adult books, but I also have been working on some fan fiction and a screenplay on the side, so I’m eager to see where that lands.
HG: Oooh, we’ll be on the lookout! Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us today! For readers that want to find out more about your stories and keep up with you, where should they go to connect or learn more?
JAS: Thank you so much for the opportunity! This was a lot of fun, and I really enjoyed it. I spend most of my time these days on Instagram (@shorely) and TikTok (@jenniferannshore), but I’m on all the major social channels. Additionally, my website and newsletter are great stops to learn more!
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