Friday, January 25, 2013

My Interview with Jena Leigh, Author of Revival

I loved Revival so much that I had to interview author Jena Leigh. Thankfully she agreed and she is here today at I Blog, You Read. I’ll admit I want to know every detail from the next book in her Variant series. But I shall remain patient until then. Can I just say that I love it when I get my hands on a self-published book like this? It proves that there is so much more out there in the world of books that goes beyond the shelves in stores. It’s like finding a secret that you can actually tell everyone you know. So let’s shed some light on this awesome author and welcome Jena Leigh. 


Author Bio:

Born and raised in Tampa, Florida, Jena Leigh spent ten years in the mountains of North Carolina before returning home to the lightning capital of North America. A shameless geek, she loves bad sci-fi movies, Skittles, writing rambling e-mails to friends and taking shenanigan-filled road trips to faraway concerts. She has a degree in English from Appalachian State University. REVIVAL is her first novel.

Hi, Celine! Thank you so much for having me!

My pleasure! First off, how in the world did you manage to keep your cast of characters straight? There are so many that have great solid stories with abilities that intertwine.

It was definitely a challenge, but one that I very much enjoyed. It helped that, for nearly two years, Revival had my undivided attention. Aside from the occasional short story and rambling letters to friends, I only had that piece to focus on. When you bury yourself in the world of your characters like that, it becomes easier to keep their various storylines and abilities straight in your head.

I loved Alex and Declan but you have me curious about Cassie and Aiden. In your next book which characters were you anxious to write for again?

Nathaniel and Aiden! I’ve been having a blast writing those two lately. In book two, you’ll be seeing a lot more of Alex, Nate and Aiden. (And before anyone panics—Declan will be there, too! I promise.) In fact, all of the characters will be back for round two, but those three are going to be receiving quite a lot of attention. And while I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, I can say that Nathaniel’s mysterious past and his connection to Alex will finally be explained. And it’s a mind-bender, to be sure!

The cover for Revival is beautiful. How did you come up with the clean concept of it and do you have a cover reveal planned for your next book?

Thank you! I spent months studying other YA novel covers, trying to figure out what design elements worked and what didn’t, and then tried to decide what might work for Revival. It took another full month of creating design after design before I settled on that one. I think the one I went with was actually the eighth one I created! As for book two—there are already a few drafts of the cover in progress. I hope to be doing a cover real for the next book sometime in early April.

Revival is written extremely well and professional. Can you describe your journey in self-publishing and why you chose to do so?

That’s quite the compliment! Thank you! My journey in self-publishing started out like most do—I had a book nobody wanted to publish. After the pile of rejection letters rolled in from the sea of agents politely declining my book, I was pretty heartbroken. Okay, more than that… Devastated might be a better word.

So I went back to the manuscript. Put it through yet another round of edits. Polished it to the point that I was certain that—although it still wasn’t perfect—it was as good as I could possibly make it... And during that time, I did my homework. I researched the process. I tried to absorb every pointer and every helpful recommendation that I could. I designed a cover. I planned. I created every social media account I could think of, to help promote the series and myself as an author.

And then I published.

And then the work began. Honestly, that’s one thing nobody tells you… Self-publishing is more than just a hard road. If you want to succeed, it’s a full-time job! But I’ll tell you a secret… This gig might just be the best job around. I’m living my dreams and loving every minute of it!

Let’s talk music! I set up a playlist when I want to write something, let my imagination take me where it may, then write. What are you listening to now that is currently influencing book 2 in your Variant series?

I love music.

Like… love it. To the point that, if there’s not something playing constantly in the background, I have absolutely no idea what to do with myself. Even as I write this, OneRepublic is belting out “Feel Again” through my laptop speakers.

Music helps me think. It picks me up and gets me moving—and typing. Which is crucial when I’m writing.

Here’s a short list of some of the songs I’m listening to while working on book two. And yes, more than a few of them line up perfectly with the plot of the second book... But I’m going to be mean and keep you guessing as to which ones actually fit! ;-)

Carbon Leaf – On Any Given Day
Ingrid Michaelson – In the Sea
Band of Horses – No One’s Gonna Love You
Neon Trees – Everybody Talks
Bright Eyes – Shell Games
The Black Keys – Sinister Kid
Breathe Carolina ­– Hit and Run
Hurt – Got Jealous
Shinedown – Adrenaline
Avenged Sevenfold – Welcome to the Family

My all time favorite comic book character is Superman, but my all time favorite comic book couple is Rogue and Gambit from X-men. Do you have any favorite comic book characters?

I do! And you win the prize for best interview question ever… I absolutely adore Neil Gaiman’s writing in the comic book series The Sandman. Dream is definitely my all-time favorite comic book character! And I’m with you—Rogue and Gambit win for best couple. I wanted to cry when they released the first (and the second, and the third…) X-Men movie and Gambit was nowhere to be found. He’s definitely in my top five favorite comic book characters, and being forced to wait until the Wolverine movie to see him on the big screen almost killed me. That said, Taylor Kitsch was my inspiration for Aiden (or for his physical appearance, anyway) so when he showed up as Remy Lebeau, I very nearly died of joy. Even if his Cajun accent was a little screwy at times.

What book are you crazy excited about right now?

It changes with the weather, I swear, but right now I’m completely fangirling over Libba Bray’s The Diviners. I finished it last week and I’m still thinking about it. I even said something was “jake” the other day, before I could stop myself… I’m such a dork. But the book was amazing! I highly recommend checking it out, if you haven’t already!

I just want to thank you so much for this interview and sharing Revival with me. I am now a certified fan. Do you have anything you want to share with readers about Revival or what’s next for Alex and the Variants?

And thank you so much for having me and for reading the book! As for news… Revival is currently available in paperback and as an e-book from, but starting on Valentine’s Day (February 14th) you’ll be able to find it a host of other places, including the Nook Book Store and the iTunes store! Also, Alex’s second adventure in the Variant Series is scheduled to be out in late spring of 2013, so stay tuned! 

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