Interview With Author Jennifer L. Soucy

# Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!

Hello! I’m Jennifer Soucy, and I love stories. My greatest passion is dark fiction, particularly horror and fantasy books, movies/tv, and more. I officially became a writer again three years ago, and my books reflect the type of stories I love. I’m a big fan of the concept of writing the stories you’d want to read.

So far, I’ve published 4 novels, and more are coming: DEMON IN ME, an adult contemporary dark fantasy/horror; THE NIGHT SHE FELL, an adult contemporary horror/dark fantasy/paranormal romance; CLEMENTINE’S AWAKENING, a southern gothic/horror/ghost story; and THE MOTHER WE SHARE, a contemporary young adult dark fantasy/horror.

# What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?

My books definitely include tidbits from my real life and prior experiences, though as a disclaimer, they are still wholly works of fiction.

For THE MOTHER WE SHARE, I include the origin of this story in the acknowledgments. I come from a horror-loving family, and my sister had this awesome, scary story she’d tell her kids: The Green-Eyed Girl. I hate to give away spoilers, but safe to say it was absolutely the seed for my novel—the first one I wrote back in 2018, which happens to be my most recently published. I set it in New England—where I was born and raised—and included aspects of Irish folklore, but everything beyond that is make-believe.

In DEMON IN ME, I wrote about a drummer recovering from years of trauma in Las Vegas, but she has to return to her childhood home in Connecticut because her mother is dying of cancer. This was more personal, for sure. Though Layla and I are completely different people with our own unique experiences, we’ve both survived trauma, lived in the same areas, and dealt with a serious illness in the family. At the time I began writing, my mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Thankfully she recovered, but it certainly brought out a lot of emotions during the story’s creation. Side note: I’m also a huge fan of drumming, as it’s the only instrument I came even close to learning.

For THE NIGHT SHE FELL and CLEMENTINE’S AWAKENING, I would say both share one massive similarity with my background. Both stories involve restaurant life, which was my job for almost 25 years. My work experiences absolutely inspired these stories, though the characters and their plot beats were completely fictional…except for some of the customers and workers. In the restaurant industry, truth really is stranger than fiction which made it perfect for these twisted tales.

# What inspires/inspired your creativity?

Everything and everyone I encounter feeds into my creativity in some way, whether or not it’s intentional. One of my biggest inspirations is the content of my dreams and nightmares which often reflect people and events from my current reality.

We moved a lot when I was a kid, and I’ve moved quite a bit as an adult too. Plus, I worked in industries where I meet new people every day from every imaginable culture and background. That would shape anyone, especially someone like me, who’s already observant, analytical, and far too curious for my own good.

# How do you deal with creative block?

Creative blocks can be a pain, but I think of them also as a sort of warning system. It’s like any chore in life; if you do too much, too fast, then your body will find a way to tap the brakes. When a block hits me, it’s usually temporary—a couple of hours or days. I used to get frustrated, wanting to accomplish more on a story that day, but sometimes I can’t. If the block hits, then I get up and do something physically active—take a walk, clean, whatever will get the blood pumping again to my brain.

Sometimes the block happens differently. A couple of times after finishing a big project, I may go through a few days of fatigue where I can’t think of what to work on next. When that happens, I just chill. I catch up on my TBR pile, which is massive, or I watch something on tv. Eventually, the creativity well refills, and I get that little tingle in my brain. Often it happens during the most inopportune moment, like in the car or grocery shopping, so I write a quick note on my phone.

The trick with creative blocks is to give yourself a break—literally! It happens to everyone from time to time, and it’s no reflection on your inherent talents or overall worth. Take a rest, have some fun, live a little, then I promise inspiration will wiggle its way back into your head.

# What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?

This can be a tricky question, and I’m sure every person has a handful of opinions—some valid, and some based on personal pet peeves. For me, there’s only one mistake you can make in a book: not being authentic or true to your vision.

You go to a place like the Twitter Writing Community, for instance, and you can find dozens of helpful and supportive people. You’ll also meet dozens of know-it-all jackasses; many have never published yet seemingly have an answer, suggestion, or gripe about everything. A new writer can easily get turned around between them all.

Beyond all the “rules” of writing, you have to be willing to own your final product. The characters, plot, and themes have to convey the exact message you intended. If it moves you, feels real to you, gets your heart pumping, then it will do the same for others. You won’t please everyone, of course—nor should you aim to, as that likely means you’re compromising some essential factor—but your passion will inspire others, and that’s how you’ll build a following.

# How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?

As I said above, you can’t please everyone, and that is just as it should be. You will get bad reviews and negative feedback. Everyone does. Look up your favorite author on Goodreads or Amazon and see for yourself.

It sucks, of course. No one wants to have their art torn to pieces. So much of ourselves goes into each of our stories, and we love them as much as if they were real beings. But just because we love them doesn’t mean they’re perfect. Ask any parent about their children, and you’ll get an earful about their peccadillos while also being assured they love their babies beyond reason.

The key to feedback is realizing constructive criticism isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s an absolute treasure when it comes from the proper source, an expert or simply someone whose opinion you respect. If my editor says they have a problem with a certain scene or character, and their case makes sense, that helps me immensely. Of course, that same editor may not like something else that I feel is important. I’ll give their advice full consideration and weigh multiple options, but if I believe it’s what the story needs then I’ll probably still keep it in some form. The point is, without that feedback I might never have even realized something doesn’t work (or maybe the idea works, but I could do it in a better/clearer way).

Bad reviews… Ugh, be careful. Again, some may be constructive and some may just come from a miserable person who loves demeaning others. If you do read your reviews—not everyone does, by the way—it’s possible you’ll find valid examples of your strengths or weaknesses (again, assuming the sources are objective). Ignore the trolls, just as you would regarding any other topic on the internet, and salvage the helpful parts.

Any of us can learn from negative feedback. We can use it to grow stronger or hone a certain skill or technique, which might help on the next project. Whatever you do, do not let negativity beat you down. If you can’t learn something from the feedback, or change in a positive way, then the only thing to do is let it go and move on.

# Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?

I mentioned this a bit above, but I write the stories I want to read. So yes, a huge part of my motivation is writing a story for myself. As a fangirl of multiple creative authors and franchises, I respect my readers. I try to balance what I want with what they might enjoy, but I admit to still putting my interests first.

That’s part of how I keep writing, though, so I don’t consider that a fault. If I’m bored by the story or characters, how am I supposed to slog through hours, days, and weeks of writing sessions? I promise, if I’m bored by the writing then the readers will be doubly bored. Not everyone will adore my stories as much as I do, and I can accept that. But I truly hope my enthusiasm shines through, that even the harshest critics can appreciate my passion even if they decide my story’s not for them.

# Do you have any creativity tricks?

As far as storytelling, I’m not sure what I might do that constitutes a trick or shortcut. I just try to let the story flow, only interfering when it’s absolutely necessary. Most times when I’m writing, and I’m on a good run, it’s like the story writes itself—which is a pretty awesome and kinda spooky sensation, but it’s what keeps me going.

One example that feels like a tip is the use of music in my writing. Part of my worldbuilding includes making a playlist inspired by my characters, plot beats, the setting, and more. I play it while writing—loud enough to distract my conscious mind, but not too loud or I’d spend my writing session singing along! When I get into the zone, and the music’s working its magic, then my subconscious can really let go.

This is a hotly debated topic among writers. Listening to music while working isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. The important thing is to find whatever tricks work for you and use them as needed.

# What are your plans for future books?

Two of my books are part of a series, so I’ll have sequels coming for them over the next couple of years (THE MOTHER WE SHARE and THE NIGHT SHE FELL). I’m also working on some new books for Silver Shamrock Publishing, but I can’t really share much about those yet. Safe to say, it’s more dark fiction with a few cool twists and turns. I’ve also started submitting some short stories to anthologies, so hopefully I’ll have news about those soon. Short stories are new to me—as a writer, anyway, not a reader—and I’m still finessing my technique. They’re definitely fun, and I can’t wait to write more.

# Tell us some quirky facts about yourself

I say often that I’m a nerd, but for people who don’t know me, I really doubt they understand how true this is. I loved school, for example—maybe not middle school, but all the rest. Learning has always been something I loved, especially when it’s a topic I’m truly interested in exploring. I sometimes even have nostalgic dreams about high school where I’m young again, having a total blast with my friends as we go through a normal day.

I mentioned I’m a fangirl for certain works or genres. I’ve adored horror since childhood, whether it was movies, tv, books, or music. A part of the horror community I love is that I’ve met people who know far about the genre than me, which is awesome. You can find out so much from your fellow fans about what works or authors to try, and so often they’re right on the money. As for movie adaptations of books, watch out… I can either be the most fun viewing partner ever or the most annoying. I can handle some changes between the versions, but some are just horrible. I tend to rant just a wee bit, but the frustration comes from a place of love, I swear!

Cooking is something I’ve enjoyed since childhood, coming from a line of talented cooks on both sides of my family. I do a lot of baking, as well, which is always in demand for the family parties. But back to being a nerd, I’ve also been known to create themed food. Check out my Facebook for pictures of my dishes for several Game of Thrones finale parties—Dornish Dragon Skewers, Broken Crown Pastries, Meereenese snack platters, and more. When I worked as a bartender, I made Game of Thrones themed cocktails based on my favorite characters (The Mad Queen was my favorite!).

I could probably go on, but best to leave it here. All I can say is, nerds were far from popular when I was a kid, but the world has changed. If any of you ever feel too nerdy about something, don’t let that keep you from expressing yourself. You’d be amazed at how many people are just like you, or have been looking for a friend like you. The best advice I’ve ever received—Be Yourself—may be a cliche, but it’s truly helped me, personally and professionally. Stick with that, have some genuine confidence in your skills and abilities, and life will be a much more enjoyable ride.

Links:

Website: https://www.jenniferlsoucy.com/

Linktree: https://linktr.ee/therealjenwah