By Jennifer Ward
Recently, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by author and fellow MFA graduate student Faith Harris at Southern New Hampshire University. Read on to learn more about recent projects I’ve worked on, and what inspired me to write contemporary fiction.
FH: Let’s talk about process. Starting with, where do you write? How do you find the time?
JW: I have a habit of bringing my laptop everywhere with me just in case I have some free time. I’ve written in hotel rooms, on subways, and during breaks at work (before I became a teacher). These days, I mostly write at my desk by the window in my NYC apartment. Lately, much of my time is devoted to my teaching job and graduate school. I try to get a lot of writing done during the summer, other school vacations, and the weekends.
FH: What made you want to start writing?
JW: I’ve been writing in some form since I was very young. I kept a diary since the age of six, and when I was in the fourth grade, I wrote a small collection of one-page stories about summer vacations my family and I went on. Writing has always been enjoyable and therapeutic for me. I wrote a bit in college and afterward, here and there. I’ve had different careers in healthcare and education, but writing has never left my life.
FH: What is your chosen genre and what led you to write in this genre?
JW: I write contemporary fiction. The thing that draws me to this genre is how relatable the characters and scenarios can be. I think fiction can help us make sense of the world around us, and I try to do that with my stories. I once heard someone refer to contemporary fiction as “a slice of life,” and it really is.
FH: Can you please give us a brief overview of the project you are currently working on, if any?
JW: Currently, I’m working on a few things. I recently wrote a short story about two sisters who are reunited by their father’s death. There is a lot of conflict and tension between them since he didn’t make his last wishes known. Many of my stories deal with family relationships. I also wrote a nonfiction story for Chicken Soup for the Soul I’m going to submit for publication. My story is about my experience teaching in a densely populated school in Brooklyn during the pandemic, watching my students and colleagues get sick, and eventually getting sick myself. It sounds sad, but it’s uplifting and all about thinking positively. Finally, I’ve written some character sketches and scenes for my debut novel, which is still very much a work in progress.
FH: What advice would you give a young aspiring writer?
JW: I’m still in the process of building my own career as an author, but to a young writer, I would say go where you are valued and appreciated. Try to let go of any doubt or negativity others might project onto you. If writing is your dream, go for it.