Monday, April 21, 2014

Author Interview: Jenny Cutler Lopez: Who I Am: American Scar Stories

She loves to write about people from all walks of life. She has lived across Canada, the U.S., and England, moving thirty-seven times in as many years. Through all of it, she discovered fact is truly stranger than fiction and there is no better story than one of truth and insight. She now lives in Virginia with her husband, two kids, and three black cats. Her current book project: Who I Am: American Scar Stories awakens the reader to the struggles and triumphs of 12 people with noticeable scars using full-page portraits and inspirational short stories. The book launches 2 June 2014.

 A very warm welcome to Jenny Cutler Lopez.

Your real name and pen name?

My real name is Jenny Cutler Lopez

Please share some of the best memories of your childhood:
I lived in Newfoundland until I was 10. My best memories there are sitting in a row boat way off the coast watching my grandfather fish for cod and halibut and I also loved picking buckets of blueberries every September. After that I moved to England where I used to love walking in the countryside and eating wild blackberries.
Peg, Jacques, and Jenny six months before Peg’s death

About your education:
I have a M.A. in International Development Studies from Saint Mary's University in Halifax and I completed the coursework for a PhD in Public Policy before I dropped the program to move to the United States in 2006.

What career did you plan during your education days
- Policy Analyst and Researcher for a large International Development governmental organization like the U.N., CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) or IDRC (International Development Research Center)

What languages you can speak and write?
I can speak a bit of French and Spanish. But I only fluent in one language - this one!

What is your biggest source of inspiration in life?
The people I write about.

What hurts you most in this world?
The unjust treatment of the weakest such as children and the elderly.
Jenny and bethann
What is the biggest challenge you have faced? How did you overcome it?
Placing a child for adoption when I was 20. You can read that story here.

What is your favorite genre and why?
Creative nonfiction. I love a good story and I become more invested if I know the main character actually existed. There are incredibly compelling true life stories out there.
tim and jenny in chicago
When did you start writing? What is the purpose of your writing?
The first time I shared my writing I was eight and I was asked to read a scary story I wrote out loud to my school. I've always loved to write. In the years I haven't actively written, I'm at least keeping journals. The purpose of my writing right now is to share everyday people's stories while at the same time finding satisfaction in crafting those stories in a way that appeals to a reader.

Which of your work has been published so far?
I'm an indie publisher which means right now I think I can be more successful writing and marketing my own books rather than relying on a publishing house. I published Backstory: First Time Tales by the Stranger Next Door in 2008 and Who I Am: American Scar Stories launches 2 June 2014.
What are your forthcoming writings?
Who I Am: American Scar Stories. My goal after that is to release four other books: each a collection of creative nonfiction short stories

What are your future plans?
To keep writing. To keep learning. To hone the craft of creative nonfiction storytelling and complete my goal of visiting all 50 states - I have 8 states left to go. My other travel goal is to visit a new country each year.

What four top most things you take care of while writing a book?
1. Non-negotiable scheduled time to write
2. Make sure I get plenty of sleep so I can think straight while writing
3. Close the door on the world literally and figuratively. I close my door to avoid interruptions and I mentally close the door to not invite my internal editor to look over my shoulder. When I'm ready I'll invite her in.
4. Get outside every day to clear my head and think about ideas and direction

Is high level of imagination important to have for an Author?

Writing cnf - no. Writing fiction - absolutely
Contagious Optimism
Your dream destination on Earth?
Cornwall, England

Your origin of birth and other countries you have visited/ stayed. What best things you liked in these countries around the globe?
I was born in Newfoundland, Canada. I've visited or lived in the U.S., Dominican Republic, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Bermuda, Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, Morocco, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand.  The little differences are my favorite thing about these countries. Triangle potholes in Bermuda, street stand pupusas in El Salvador, the birds in Guatemala. Each place has something unique and memorable about it. And I usually meet some great people in each place.

Your favorite time of the day?
First thing in the morning

Your zodiac/ sunsign?
First Time Tales by the Stranger Next Door
Your favorite book and why?
Gone with the Wind. I read it 10 years ago and I still think about it. The characters, the love story, the insight into the Civil War from a southern perspective, the tension, the symbolism, the loss and the growth of Scarlett. I couldn't put it down and I recommend it to everyone.

Relevant web links:

Twitter handle: @jcutlerlopez

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