Like most of the other writers I adore today, I first met Jen Kirchner on social media in 2011. We hit it off… talking about writing, pop culture, and sharing general life experiences with each other.
Besides the fact that we have both worked as Executive Assistants and were both looking to venture into the world of indie publishing in 2012 for the first time, we really didn’t have that much in common. Take her love of science fiction and gaming for instance. These two worlds might as well be written in a language lost centuries ago as far as I’m concerned; but she’s teaching me and making me look smarter to my guy, since he too is an avid sci-fi lover and gamer.
But our differences have never mattered. Jen’s one of the funniest people I know, and this humor carries over into her writing. But most importantly, her heart is about as warm and inviting as a winter fire burning and candlelight. She’s not a casual acquaintance, but a dear friend who helps me when I most need it. We’ve grown so close over the last year and a half that it seems almost impossible that we’ve never met in person.
I cannot express how much Jen means to me. There have been days where I have wanted to bang my head against the wall, throw my laptop out the window, and quit writing altogether. In these moments, Jen jumps in and talks me down off the ledge, sharing her words of wisdom and a virtual hug. One day, we will meet face to face. And, when we do, I will hug her like there’s no tomorrow. Heck, I hope she’s a hugger…
For those who are unfamiliar with Jen, here is a brief bio:
Jen Kirchner is an Executive Assistant by day and a writer by night. Jen just published her first novel, The Fourth Channel, about the world’s worst necromancer and a set of deranged, talking knives.
Before we jump into the interview, check out Jen’s blurb for her debut fantasy novel, The Fourth Channel.
The Fourth Channel:
For years, Kari Hunter’s fooled the world into thinking she’s just an everyday girl. Sure, she’s the lead singer of world-renowned band Vis Viva, but outside of that, she recycles religiously, is an avid supporter of the environment, and she’s a certifiable coffee addict. But Kari has a secret she keeps from her family, friends, and fans.
Kari Hunter is a necromancer.
The rarest and most powerful of all magic-born, necromancers are notorious for leaving a trail of sacrifices in their wake. But Kari isn’t interested in hurting anyone. She works hard at being as un-necromancer-like as possible: everyone she stabs gets a bandage and a lollipop, and whenever her sacrificial knives get too excited by the prospect of violence, she puts them in time-out… in her lingerie drawer.
But when an agent of voodoo master Ruairí O’Bryne catches Kari using her powers, her secret’s out. And if Ruairí finds out who Kari is, he’ll stop at nothing to make her his next sacrifice.
She had me at sacrificial knives… oh, and they talk!
When you were a little girl, did you dream of one day writing a bestseller, or did you have something else in mind?
I really didn’t! My childhood revolved around music. I was classically trained as a vocalist, participated in competitions and competitive choirs, performed more times than I can count, and I played piano. On the weekends, I was involved in the worship ministry in church. I always thought—or perhaps, hoped—that my path would be music. But I guess it wasn’t meant to be. As it turns out, I’m not big on the spotlight anyway. I’m much better hiding behind my computer!
Where do you find the inspiration for your stories?
I look for inspiration everywhere—I even find it in things I hate. That’s actually how I came up with a lot of ideas for The Fourth Channel: I was thinking about a lot of elements in modern fantasy that bothered me, and I wanted to do my own spin on them. If I were to tell you all of them, you’d be mighty surprised. Actually, I’d better not point them out because then people would take back their claims of how original my story is. Hah!
Who are a few of your favorite authors?
I don’t really have favorite authors. Most authors aren’t like rock stars, living some hyped-up, glamorous life—like Nathan Fillion in Castle. Maybe that’s what appeals to me about being an author: it’s an unassuming profession. Most writers don’t worry about getting mobbed by fans when they walk down the street. Our characters are more famous than we are. And I’m fine with that.
The cover art for your book is amazing. Did you design it yourself?
Thank you so much! My cover was designed by Amber Shah at Book Beautiful. I really didn’t know what I wanted for a cover, and when she sent me the mock up for the current cover, I was blown away. She’s a very talented gal and amazing to work with. I can’t recommend her services enough.
Many writers imagine a celebrity or familiar face when developing their characters. Did you have anyone particular in mind when writing Kari and why?
I didn’t have a single person in mind, though I did borrow features from different people. Mostly, I wanted someone who looked a bit different from me because I didn’t want my friends accusing me of writing myself into a story! And in case you’re wondering, it didn’t work. My friends still ask me if I’m Kari. The answer is no!
Speaking of celebrities, who are you thinking of at this very moment?
I am thinking of a Dutch singer named Charlotte Wessels because her band, Delain, is playing on my speakers right now. Funny, because Charlotte’s very long hair (that she likes to headbang with) inspired Kari’s very long hair.
I wouldn’t be myself without asking about television – what’s your favorite television program?
Ooh, that’s a good one. I am a huge Red Dwarf fan. It’s a British sci-fi comedy about the last human being alive, a hologram of his dead boss, a humanoid creature who evolved from the ship’s cat, and a mechanoid. They recently released the latest episodes on DVD for the US. When the DVDs arrived, we had a big party at my house and watched them.
How about films… what is your favorite movie of all-time?
I’m going to have to say The Great Race with Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, Natalie Wood, and Peter Faulk. It’s an oldie but a goody. The dashing hero, The Great Leslie (who wears all-white and makes the girls go crazy) races his arch-nemesis Professor Fate (who wears all-black and has a hilariously dastardly mustache) in old-style automobiles from New York to Paris. No airplanes. No boats. But they get there in the end. I won’t spoil it by telling you how. The movie contains a very famous sword fight, as well as a famous large-scale pie fight. The Great Race embraces everything that I like to put in a story: action, danger, comedy, headstrong heroines, and a splash of romance. If you watch this movie, you will understand my writing aesthetic.
What snacks do you order when at a movie theater?
Don’t look down on me when I say this but I’m too cheap to pay for theater snacks! Concession stand prices are unbelievable so my husband and I smuggle in whatever we can fit into my purse. Since we don’t usually keep candy in the house, we grab whatever we can find–Fig Newtons, trail mix, you name it. The funny part is, I don’t even know why we grab snacks since we never eat them anyway!
Lastly, you are what I like to call a science fiction enthusiast. Who are a few of your favorite characters within this genre (books, TV, movies, games) and why?
Great question! Every month on my website, I write a tongue-in-cheek feature called “Sci-Fi Pinups.” Each post highlights one male and one female from the sci-fi/fantasy universe. The funny thing about the pinups is that each month I have an even tougher time finding women to feature. Considering how I’ve only featured fourteen women, that probably sounds strange. But, finding strong female role models in this genre is a lot harder than it sounds. The majority of sci-fi/fantasy women are overly emotional, I.Q. deficient, and oversexed. Many tough women are portrayed as gun-toting men with breasts. It’s tough finding the Princess Leias, Colonel Wilma Deerings, and Wonder Womans of the bunch. I’d love to see better role models in this category, as would most geek women like me. I think that’s why I wrote the main character of The Fourth Channel, Kari Hunter, the way I did. She has her own quirks, strengths, and weaknesses, and doesn’t need to rely on big guns or sex. Not that there’s anything wrong with guns and sex, I just wanted to show that women can be strong and not have to pop a cap while falling out of their tight, low-cut sweaters to prove it.
Isn’t Jen amazing AND adorable?
Do you have a question for Jen? Have you read The Fourth Channel yet? Who’s your favorite sci-fi character (male and female) and why? We’d love to hear from you!