Born and raised among the rolling cornfields of Iowa, Jed Quinn spends his days as a professor of history, volunteering as a school board member, keeping up with his five thoroughly enjoyable and oftentimes punctual children, caring for his charming yet demanding shi-tzu Benji, and stepping into random wardrobes trying to find his way into Narnia. He has traveled the globe extensively in search of wild adventures, ideas for his books, and exotic and frightening things to eat. Oh, and he'll totally crush you at Uno, so bring it!
Quinn is the author of Orchard, a YA novel about a woman who awakens to learn she is part of a small band of vampires tasked with protecting our world. The sequel, Cove, was released in 2016 and the third novel, Violet, comes out summer 2019. He is co-author, with Michael Koogler and Jaren Riley, of The Krypteia Conspiracy, about a secret organization attempting to hijack the end times and overthrow God.
1. Will you tell us about your most recent published work?
I’m working on a series called Orchard. My last published book was Cove, which was the sequel. I’m currently working on the final book in the series, Violet. Fingers crossed it comes out soon!
2. What personal challenges do you face as a writer?
Where to start? There’s a question later that gets to this as well, but my biggest problem is that I run into a situation in a book I can’t resolve so I move on to another of my brilliant ideas. Time is another problem. And it takes me a long time to work out plot points. So yeah, the fact that I’ve ever finished anything is sort of a small miracle.
3. What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Probably pushing through when writer’s block hits. The daily grind. I get ideas constantly, so trying to find one that I can finish is always the most important. If I can’t work out how it will end and the main points within the beginning of the process I just have to let it go. It’s SO important to know your limitations.
4. What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
The easy answer is poverty. Realistically, I’d give up my hope of writing the perfect novel. That book that is all things to all people. That thing that completes me. Maybe I’ll get there, but I think I spend way too much time taking something that is pretty good and trying to polish it until it shines brilliantly. I need to let some of that perfectionist streak go so I could get some more books finished!
5. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
It made it real. I always just wrote for myself, with this pipe dream that I would publish something. I didn’t think I’d ever actually do it, though. So, when it happened, it was like the fairy tale suddenly became true. And that put some pressure on me early on to keep that going, to build on that and sell more books. I’ve enjoyed getting to a middle point where both the harsh realities of the publishing business and the fairy tale of having books out there are both real.
6. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Will you tell us about them?
A million. I have a collection of short stories about people who have had horrible experiences in their lives. A book about a family who has a shared vision of them entering a green portal. A book called the Family Samurai about a family who struggle to work through suddenly becoming wealthy and famous. Wow. I never realized how important family is in my books, but most of my books center around families. So, I just learned something in this interview about myself and my books. Sweet!
7. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Yes! All of them! Good and bad. Good ones make you feel great, and bad ones either hurt or don’t. When you get a bad review that complains about how the book isn’t what they wanted, you can let that go. I got one complaining about how they really didn’t like my take on vampires, and I was like, then go read something else. Not in a bad way, just that everyone gets to like what they like, and if mine doesn’t do it for you that’s just fine. The ones that complain about your plot or call out flaws can be painful, but if you use that to get better, then sometimes those can be the best ones!
8. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Oh yes! I’m a historian during the day, and I pack so many little references in my book. You wouldn’t know it unless I told you, which I suppose I am, but the main plot point of Cove is based on Henry VIII and Ann Boleyn. I love adding bits of knowledge about locations and historical events, even if its buried pretty deep!
9. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
So many! We have such a vibrant community here in Iowa. I’m not going to list any, as there is no way I could include all of them. I’ve written a series of books about the end times called The Krypteia Conspiracy with my friends Mike Koogler and Jaren Riley. That was fun writing with other authors, but you have to have the right group. I’ll tell you this, though, writing is a solitary endeavor and its difficult to finish a project so any support you can get is so important. Lean on your friends and let them lean on you. It’s the only way any of us get through this!
10. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
To just go for it. Don’t wait. Don’t listen to people who say you can’t do it. Be bold! Of course, me today could handle hearing that advice still!
11. What are common traps for aspiring writers?
I’ve touched on this, but taking on too many projects, thinking every word has to be perfect, and thinking you can do it alone. Pick something you’re passionate about, do your best, and enjoy the process!
12. What’s the best way to market your books?
I’m still working on this! Just hustling! Getting to book fairs, engaging on social media, and perhaps most importantly you have to keep producing. Nothing sells your old books like getting a new one out there.
13. What is your favorite childhood book?
The Chronicles of Narnia. It’s always been Aslan for me. The first book I ever wrote was fan fiction about the mouse Reepicheep. If I could write something like that, well, that would be amazing.