Author Interview with Jenny Knipfer

When did you begin writing? What inspired you to start?

I've written since I could hold a pencil. I lived and breathed in story form as a girl. I voraciously read. I scripted and scribbled my little stories away in my head, heart, and diaries.

As an adult, my writing became a way for me to process life. I recorded its ups and downs. The process was and is therapeutic. It helped me through some dark days with depression, and in recent years writing has given me a place of freedom.

I live with multiple sclerosis. The disease has left its literal scars on me, not just on my physical body, but on my soul as well. Writing gave me purpose when I had to quit my job last year because of my increasing disability. I remember looking around my house the day after I quit and asking myself, "What the heck am I gonna do now?" A sudden inspiration to finish the novel I'd started 18 years prior took hold in my heart, and so I did. Despite the challenges of numb fingers, chronic pain in my arms and legs, and fatigue, I forged ahead.

What author inspired you the most?

Call me old school. I don't mind. L.M. Montgomery filled my head with her fanciful and florid Anne Shirley. I read George MacDonald during my early teen years and found his tales thought provoking and curious.

What book inspired you the most?

I thoroughly enjoy old-fashioned Gothic fiction. Jane Eyre is my favorite book. To me it encompasses the essential facets of a good story:  romance, mystery, and moral dilemmas.  For a modern day example, The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield has a favored spot on my bookshelf.

What was your first story? What was it about, and when did you write it?

I've written so many little stories. I wrote several children's stories years ago when I was a young mom and children's librarian. The first story outlined the curious relationship I had with our chickens at the time. The second highlighted my favorite places on the farm I grew up on. Those stories remain dear to my heart, but my novel, Ruby Moon, constitutes my first major story.

Share a 'turning point' in your life as a writer.

I think in life a person should be constantly learning. I search for new ideas and new ways to be a better writer all the time. However, I think my 'turning point' came at one of the lowest points in my life.

My disease manifested itself in such a way at the time that I could hardly even look at a computer or table screen; migraines were a daily occurrence. My hand could no longer grasp a pen or a pencil efficiently enough to write legibly, so writing by hand was not an option. I despaired of ever being able to write again. The thoughts vying for attention in my mind almost made me crazy, for I had no way to free them from my soul.

Gradually, my health improved enough to be able to use my tablet, and so I started to write. I have not stopped.

What projects are you working on now?

I finished my first novel in my historical fiction series:  By the Light of the Moon. I am writing the fourth in the series. The second and third novels are in various stages of editing. I hope to release Blue Moon (about a set of identical twins), this summer and Silver Moon (set during WWI) this fall.

Ruby Moon revolves around the story of Jenay and how she copes with causing a horrific accident. It is set in Ontario by the shores of Lake Superior in the 1890's. Her heritage--French/Canadian and Ojibwe--plays a role in how she processes through her trials. Ruby Moon embodies a tale of grief, guilt, and greed with a bit of romance and suspense thrown in.

Jenay must find where her strength lies in order to face the challenges life brings her or be washed away like driftwood on the tumultuous shores of Lake Superior. Life's richest dramas play out under the banner of two ruby colored moons and become the hidden gems which forge Jenay into a mature strong woman. Jenay realizes God is by her side, using even the  harsh events of life to create something precious in her.

That last sentence is what I want people to take away the most from Ruby Moon:

 God's presence and love is with us even in the harshest of times.

What character (from any project) was the most fun to write, and why?

My favorite character from Ruby Moon is Jenay's Ojibwe aunt--Maang-ikwe. Her wisdom helps Jenay time and time again and gives her a base for making some hard decisions.

Maang-ikwe challenged me. I'm part Native American, but quite a ways back. My heritage has always intrigued me. Although I have Sioux blood in my veins, the region I chose to write about historically hosted more Anishinaabe or Ojibwe.

I delved into researching the Ojibwe culture and came up with the character of Maang-ikwe--a wise medicine woman but also a Christian who had a sorrowful past, which shaped her strong.

Do you have any tips for your fellow writers?

Write everything down entering your noggin. I rarely stare at a blank screen. Don't search for the perfect word or worry about editing when you write. Just write. Edit later. Observing this method has given my mind the freedom to let it all come out. So far, I've not experienced writer's block. Here's hoping I won't . . .

Also, practice. Any craft or skill requires the need to be honed. Read books on writing. Follow writing blogs. Keep learning. Barbara Baig has written several excellent books on growing as a writer. I highly recommend them.

Thanks for interviewing with me today!

Thank you so much, Lauren, for interviewing me!

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