Today, I’m so excited to have my dear friend Jenni Sauer on the blog today! You will absolutely fall in love with this wonderful woman and her heart for story, as well as her latest novel — Rook Di Goo! Read on…
Hi Jenni! It’s so nice to have you on the blog today!
J: Thank you so much for having me! I’m thrilled to have been “invited”!
When did you first decide you wanted to write? Was it your first career choice or were you planning on doing something else?
J: I’ve been telling stories since I could talk. It used to drive my mom crazy that I’d completely embellish those “write about what happened at the apple farm” exercises they’d make us do in school. I liked to spice things up.
I didn’t actually consider writing as a career though until later— before that I wanted to own a bookstore or a mobile library (I say now as a 26 yr. old who doesn’t have her license). It wasn’t until I was about 12 or 13 when I suddenly made the connection that the authors of the books I loved were normal people. Something just shifted and I realized it was something I could do too. And that’s when I knew it’s what I wanted to do.
When did you first publish? Did you enjoy your self-publishing experience or wish you had done something different starting off?
J: I first published 9 years ago! I was 15 and had no idea what I was doing. I got signed on by a small press and the experience was amazing but I was so ill-prepared that nothing much came of it. That book’s no longer available but it still holds a very special place in my heart as my first.
And then I tried again a few years later— again, before I was ready— and it went a little better but there was still a lot I didn’t know. Those two are still available on Kindle, but I plan to rewrite them someday with a setting shift.
This is a hard question to answer because I would definitely recommend young writers do things differently— namely do a LOT more research and make sure they actually know what they’re getting into. But no, I don’t wish I’d done anything differently. My books and I both weren’t ready but all three releases were part of my journey and I learned a lot through them.
Tell me about your latest novel, Rook Di Goo! What is it about?
J: The short pitch is that Rook Di Goo is a science fantasy story that reimagines Cinderella as a space cadet deserting from the military.
At its heart, it’s my love letter to broken girls— the ones who don’t know where they fit in the world, the ones who wonder if they’re worthy of redemption, the ones clinging to a hope they don’t fully understand. It’s a character driven adventure story so we get fun banter, found family, and a lot of scenes with the main character taking charge as she fights to save the day.
Is Rook Di Goo a standalone or part of a series? How many books are going to be involved?
J: It’s part of a series! Rook Di Goo is the first book in the “War on Taras” trilogy. You can also be on the lookout for a trilogy of standalone spinoffs about some favorite characters from this book.
There’s also a whole expanded universe, but I’m just focusing on the six books right now.
Can you give us any insider scoops about what the next book in the series is going to be about?
J: The next book published will be the first standalone, Yesterday or Long Ago. It’s a genderbent Aladdin retelling about a girl who wants to read books and find out who her dad is. Except things get complicated when she meets a cute librarian who turns out to not be a librarian at all… In this book we’ll get to see Gibbs and Prince Tov from Rook Di Goo.
The second book in the War on Taras trilogy is about the Princess of Taras and we’ll get to see more answers to the “what happened on Taras?” questions we started asking in Rook Di Goo.
What made you decide to write a series? What’s an aspect you love and an aspect you find hard about writing a series?
J: My brain usually goes “Oh, hey, this side character is cool and their story never really got closure. We should write a book about them.” I’m also just a practical person— if I’m going to all the trouble to create a story world, I’m going to set as many books as I can in it. I often get story ideas and let them float around until I’m working on a series— then I start pulling from my backlog of ideas and see which ones will fit in this world.
My favorite aspect is the familiarity. I know what I’m getting into, the rules are already established, and I can just mold my story from there. I also love getting to continue storylines and play with how the same events shape different characters in different ways.
The hardest part is also the familiarity of it. Having to make what I already established fit into what I’m doing in later books. Also, timelines. I start to get confused with “wait, how old was this character? How old are they now? Does it even make sense for them to be here in this scene?” Making sure all the info from all the books doesn’t contradict itself is a puzzle, to be sure.
What inspires you to write?
J: An unbridled imagination that drives me crazy if I don’t tell the stories I have to tell. If I don’t get them out, all the characters talking in my head starts to get to be a bit too much. It’s like an itch that will drive me mad if I don’t scratch it.
Also, lest people think I’m some saint, I’ll be honest— anger and spite are huge motivators for me. When people tell me I can’t achieve something, that I don’t belong in the writer space (which hasn’t happened in a while, thankfully) I will work my tail off to prove them wrong. Or just when someone says something to make me mad— like when someone says “do we need more Cinderella retellings?” and I go “heck yeah we do, I’mma write three more just because I can”). There’s nothing quite like pounding out words fueled by nothing but tea and rage.
I’m a firm believer that success is the best revenge.
Who are some authors that inspire you to become a better writer?
J: Dickens with his masterful way of weaving themes, characters, and plotlines. Shakespeare’s ability to connect with human emotions. Wilde’s ridiculous sense of humor (I’ve only read The Importance of Being Earnest). Austen’s healthy romance.
But again, the whole spite thing— nothing makes me want to be a better writer than seeing something I don’t like. Mental health glossed over, a retelling where the author clearly hates the original source material, good stories that pay no respect to its characters and their humanity, abusive relationships portrayed as romantic, they get me every time. And they make me want to write better books that treat people with respect and portray good, healthy people in healthy relationships.
Do you have a favorite character you’ve written thus far? What’s your favorite thing about them?
J: I have literally thousands of characters so this is hard. There’s a lot of them that hold my heart (okay, all of them do xD).
But as much as this might baffle new readers, I think I’d have to say Gibbs. I often say I feel less like I’m creating my characters and more like they’re already fully formed and I’m just getting to know them. And Gibbs was a ride to get to know. It was fun watching him grow from a character that was annoying and punchable into who he becomes over this course of this series.
What is the hardest part about writing for you?
I am notorious for chasing new story ideas when I should be working on something else. I’ll be halfway through a draft and all of a sudden that new side character is like “Hey, write a prequel about me!” and my heart is like “What a marvelous idea!”
I’m learning to balance focusing on the projects I need to get done while also taking breaks from time to time to play around with new ideas.
How would you describe your writing style?
J: Deep point-of-view. I write in third person (“she said” instead of “I said”) but I like to get as deep into my character’s heads as possible so that the line between narration and thought is a little bit blurred.
Do you have a favorite snack or drink you enjoy while writing?
J: Tea is a must. As for snacks, I’m a notorious muncher so dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, marshmallows, graham cookies, and/or these natural rice crispy type bars my mom buys for me because I’m spoiled.
Just because I’d like to include it for readers’ purposes, what would you say your target audience is for your book? Is there any content I should warn readers about?
J: It’s a New Adult story, though that has more to do with character ages (18-28-ish) than content. I’d rate it G for sexual content, PG for violence, and PG-13 for thematic elements. A major point of the story is El’s PTSD and things she’s done while fighting a war and, while I never get into major details, the themes are still there.
What is some advice you can give aspiring authors out there that you wish you had known when you began your writing and publishing journey?
J: It doesn’t get easier/nothing changes. You’re always going to have doubts, negative feedback always sucks, and making Pinterest boards will always be more fun that actual writing.
Which isn’t meant to discourage anyone— I’m saying it to tell you to enjoy every single messy, inconvenient second of it. Learn to love the process and the highs and lows of creativity because while there are definitely things that will shift for you as you move from “aspiring author” to “author” it’s still work. There’s not some magical moment when writing gets easier or you no longer doubt yourself. So learn to push through it; learn to own your process and your writing style and the stories you tell; learn the balance between kicking your butt into gear to get the words written and also giving yourself space to have fun and to breathe.
I think I thought I’d feel different after this book was published but I’m still me. In the thirteen or so years I’ve been writing I’ve grown so much. But in a lot of ways I’m still that 13 yr. old girl scribbling away in a notebook, obsessing over her characters and dreaming of all the lives this story is going to change— as long as everyone doesn’t hate it.
What do you consider your definition of success, as an author? Have you reached it yet or are you still in the process of obtaining it?
J: Eh-hehe… I am becoming more and more aware of my workaholic tendencies. I also have a lot of stories I want to write and publish. So I’m actually in a place where I’m trying to reassess what success looks like for me and celebrate the small victories as they come instead of focusing on all the things I haven’t gotten to achieved yet.
So I’m not entirely sure what my overall definition of success is anymore but I published a book this year without any major hiccups, so I’m celebrating that!
Finally, what is your favorite kind of tea? Very important question!
J: I have a weakness for anything fruity. Raspberry, blueberry, pomegranate, etc. will be a yes for me every time. Chai is also always a good option. When writing it’s often simply English Breakfast with honey.
Thank you so much, Jenni, for letting me interview you! I can’t wait to see how far you go. <3 If you’re interested in learning more about Jenni and her latest novel, check out the bio and buy links below!
Jenni Sauer is a 20-something city girl from New York (but no, not The City). A pragmatic optimist, she writes fairy tale retellings woven with realism and laced with hope, striving to offer light that shines in, rather than denies the darkness. She’s been telling stories since before she could even hold a pencil and hasn’t slowed down since.
When not writing she spends her time nannying, overanalyzing stories, buying too many candles, and investing in her friends and the #bookstagram and writing communities on Instagram.
Social media: https://www.instagram.com/ivorypalaceprincess/
Book link: https://ivorypalacepress.com/rook-di-goo/