Today, I am talking with Jenny Keller Ford. For anyone who has been following this blog for any length of time, her name will sound familiar, I’m sure. Last year, she launched a story in J. Taylor Publishing‘s anthology, Make Believe. At that time, she took over my blog and, for those who haven’t read it or have forgotten what she talked about, you can go back here and read (or re-read) it. She was also one of the first people I interviewed when I started blogging at the beginning of last year. You can find her interview here. Anyway, interviewing her this time was like chatting with a long-time friend.
Hi, Jenny! I am so glad you’ve dropped by, again.
May I offer you a cup of coffee or tea? Black, cream, sugar?
Oooo, thank you. I’d love some coffee please, with a little cream and sugar.
How about a little banana bread or a homemade chocolate chip cookie?
Oh, chocolate chip cookies please. From the glorious smell in the house, you must have just brought them out of the oven, didn’t you? Mmmmm, nothing better than a warm, gooey chocolate chip cookie.
Would you prefer to do the interview at the dining table or in the living room where the couch & chairs are a little softer?
If you don’t mind, I’d rather sit in the living room. It’s much more informal and cozy don’t you think?
Now, let’s get down to business. A little bird told me you’ve written another story for J. Taylor Publishing for their anthology One More Day. Please tell us a little about your main character.
Amanda Jenkins is a 17-year-old book nerd extraordinaire. She’s also an acrophobic, meaning she’s absolutely terrified of heights.
I think I’m getting a sense of what the story might be about but have to ask, what is her predicament?
Amanda likes this guy, Dean McCall. I would, too, if he really existed and I was her age. So hot. Anyway, she’s had a crush on him for years and she never thought he’d ever ask her out. But on Grad Night at Granbury Park (the local theme park), Dean corners her by the popcorn stand and asks her to ride the tallest roller coaster in the park, Dragon Flight, with him. Her insides tell her no, but it’s Dean McCall, right? What else can she say but yes. It doesn’t take her long to question that decision when her biggest fear happens. Time halts, I mean, it literally freezes, with Dragon Flight stranded at the top of the first hill, 300 feet in the air and her in the front row. As she is the only one who is not frozen in time, she has to figure out a way to get down from the beast and restart time.
As much as I love the thrill of a coaster ride, I, myself, am afraid of heights, so I would find that terrifying, too!
Did Amanda whisper in your ear about her problem or did the story line come to you first because of the publisher’s prompt?
I have to admit, I never really thought about this until I read the prompt. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t going to submit anything, but then this story came to me in a dream and I had one of those ‘ah ha!’ moments and had to go with it. I tossed it off my teen son one morning before school and he gave me one of those ‘Yeah, okay, Mom’ looks, but I had to go for it. At that point, I HAD to write the story as it wouldn’t leave me alone.
Ah, the muse that cannot be silenced.
Why did you decide on this particular setting for the story?
I love theme parks and I love roller coasters. My biggest fear is getting stranded on one. As I could relate to Amber Jenkins (because she is a lot like me), I thought the theme park idea would be perfect. Also, what teen doesn’t like theme parks, especially on Grad Night?
I know you have a penchant for dragons, will we be seeing any in this story?
Only in name. When I thought about what kind of coaster would freak me out, it would be one like Dragon Flight. One that flies high and then dives low and twists and turns and corkscrews. When the story came to me, I was a bit baffled that it didn’t have a dragon in it because almost all of my stories do, but then I realized the coaster WAS my dragon. It was a feared beast that needed to be conquered, and Amanda Jenkins was just the perfect knight to save the day.
Back in 2000, our family visited Florida. One of the kids’ favourite ride was one called Dueling Dragons at Universal Studios. Is the coaster in your story based on one that really exists or is it your fantasy coaster?
Ohh, Dueling Dragons, now Dragon Challenge in the Wonderful World of Harry Potter, was one of my favorite coasters, but not the basis for my coaster. Dragon Flight would be more like Millennium Force at Cedar Point, fused with Kumba and Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida: tall, fast, twisting, with lots of corkscrews.
Sounds like one I’d like to ride!
Okay, final question: What is the title of your story?
Of course! lol Well, I guess that’s it, for now. Good luck with your story. ‘Talk’ to you soon!
Thank you so much for inviting me in your home, Susan. The coffee was perfect and the company even better. Oh, and you should market those cookies. Fantastic!
For those of you who want to learn a little more about this exciting new anthology from J. Taylor Publishing, here’s the blurb about the premise for One More Day:
What if today never ends?
What if everything about life—everything anyone hoped to be, to do, to experience—never happens?
Whether sitting in a chair, driving down the road, in surgery, jumping off a cliff or flying … that’s where you’d be … forever.
How do we restart time?
How do we make everything go back to normal?
The answers, in whatever the world—human, alien, medieval, fantasy or fairytale—could, maybe, happen today.
What would you do if this happened … to you?
J. Keller Ford is a quirky mother of four, grand-mother and scribbler of young adult fantasy tales. She has an insatiable appetite for magic, dragons, knights and faeries, and weaves at least one into every story she conceives. Her muse is a cranky old meadow gnome that follows her everywhere she goes and talks incessantly, feeding her ideas for stories 24/7.
When she’s not writing or blogging, the former Corporate Paralegal enjoys listening to smooth jazz, collecting seashells, swimming, bowling, riding roller coasters and reading. Jenny lives minutes from the beaches of the west coast of Florida with her husband of twenty years, her two sons and a pair of wacky cats and three silly dogs. The pets have trained her well.
If you hurry up and head over to Jenny’s website, you might still be able to take part in the J. Taylor Publishing Christmas Cracker Scavenger Hunt, which ends at midnight today. Good luck!