Today I’m thrilled to share an interview with Janeen Ippolito!
Janeen is the founder of Uncommon Universes Press and a speculative fiction and non-fiction author – and I am also blessed to call her one of my dearest friends.
Tomorrow there is going to be an EPIC Facebook party to officially celebrate the launch of Uncommon Universes, as well as the release of Janeen’s world-building books, World-Building from the Inside Out and its accompanying workbook.
These books are fantastic resources for speculative fiction authors, and I am super excited for the party, especially the prizes they are planning to give away: art prints, ebooks, print books, jewelry, custom art, full manuscript reviews…the list goes on. I’m so there! 😀
(Click the image below, or this text HERE, to check out the party page.)
As part of the celebration for this release and the party, I’m interviewing Janeen here today.
So here we go!
Tell us a little bit about what you’re writing right now.
I’m currently finishing up a novella with the working title of Blood Mercy: Houses of the Dead. It’s first in a series of urban fantasy novellas based on the premise that vampirism is the rebellious actions of humans with an incurable form of anemia called the blood curse. These vampires, who choose to drink blood in order to scare and control other humans, are opposed by the Blood Kind, individuals with the blood curse who choose to take transfusions and oppose the vampire threat. Houses of the Dead focuses on Melrose Durante, the leader of the Blood Kind, who must unlock the mind of a tormented vampire to stop a city from destruction. The catch is the vampire is his estranged wife!
I’m also fleshing out the next book in my nonfiction helps series, Character-Building From the Inside Out. Another working title, because it sounds more like a self-help book, but I’m really excited to share the resources!
What’s been your writing journey? What’s influenced you and brought you to where you are presently?
I like to say I’ve been writing since before I could put pen to paper. I’m an avid observer of people, and I’ve always enjoyed imagining possibilities and making up stories. I’ve had great writing teachers, four years of obsessive play-by-post roleplaying online (basically group story-telling in various fandoms), and then more classes in college and at conferences. Writing is breathing and I can’t imagine not doing it, whether it is typing a blog post, a short story, a Tweet, or a chapter in a novel. I truly love communicating with readers through this medium, and I’m honored that people keep tuning in!
Major influences were actually a mixture of speculative fiction, historical fiction, and humor writers. I read avidly in each category growing up. Actually, in college I had to check my research papers and essays for too MUCH voice! Although I’m solidly a speculative fiction writer, my love of world-building comes in part from my love of history and cultures. As for the humor, it’s part of all my stories in some form or another!
When you get an idea for a new story, how does it tend to manifest and how do you go about exploring it and fleshing it out?
My ideas often come in collaboration with Julia Busko, an artist and close friend of mine. Our brains naturally ping-pong ideas off each other, and then she’ll draw concepts and I’ll write them out. We usually get ideas in scenes. We’ll think of some characters in a particular place or moment, dealing with a particular issue. Then we’ll tease out the world-building and potential plot lines. We also get a fair amount of inspiration from dreams and songs. Basically, anything can be inspiring! The idea part is easy. It’s nailing down the main story line and plot points that takes more work. We use Google Docs a lot and have learned to follow the story overall. Follow the story and the world-building will follow.
What are some of your favorite fictional worlds?
Middle Earth is one. I have to say, while Tolkien’s actual story-telling sometimes makes me a little impatient, I’m still in love with his fantasy world and the thought he put into it–especially elves! I’m also a huge fan of the fairy tale worlds Gail Carson Levine built in Ella Enchanted. Basic and effortlessly integrated into the plot. Last, the planet of Sphinx in David Weber’s Honor Harrington space opera series. He created this really interesting, biologically-sound world with one of the coolest creatures ever: six-legged telepathic treecats who have their own society and are addicted to celery. I’m allergic to cats, but I’ve always had a faint hope that I’m not allergic to treecats!
I know you’re a big Marvel fan, so I thought I’d ask…why Marvel over DC? 😀
Because abbreviations are lame.
Naaah, not true. Especially since a favorite character of mine is Professor X. I grew up with DC and Marvel superheroes, but Marvel has the X-Men and they are my favorite superheroes because they are ordinary people who have to work together. I always found it hard to relate to an alien from Krypton or an angsty guy in a batsuit, but a teenager who went to a mall and then got powers that made her combust a soda machine? That I could understand. If I suddenly got superpowers in a mall, I’m pretty sure I’d have to run out of there really quickly for everyone’s safety! Plus, Marvel seems to have more humor. Maybe it’s just the comics I choose to read, but between Ant-Man and the Fantastic Four, there are all of these jokes and every day moments. I enjoy that a lot.
What are your biggest goals as an author? What do you hope readers will take away from your work?
Sell more titles than J. K. Rowling, pay off my student loans in one day, and retire in Fiji because I can’t get enough of the epic square water bottles.
More realistically, I want to glorify God by writing and publishing excellent stories. That’s pretty much it. Another goal is turning a profit, both for myself and the authors I promote. A profit doesn’t just mean that we get paid for loads of work; it also means that readers are reading and enjoying the books, which is another major goal.
I hope my stories make readers see that even in the worst times, there’s always a reason to laugh. Life is full of hard times and sacrifices and even annoying chronic issues that never go away, but it doesn’t have to defeat you.
Bethany here, again!
I’m so glad to have an opportunity to promote my friend, her great books, and their new press – I’m really excited to see the things God will do through Uncommon Universes and Janeen’s work!
Don’t forget to visit the World-Building Launch Party, and I hope you’ll join in for the fun and prizes!
Some more information about Janeen Ippolito:
Janeen Ippolito is an English teacher by day, a sword-fighter by night and a writer by heart. She’s also the founder of Uncommon Universes Press and the author of World-Building From the Inside Out. She has a B.A. in Cross-Cultural Studies, Writing, and ESL and has a passion for using humor and cultures in speculative fiction. In her spare time she makes brownie batter, reads, and watches speculative television shows. One of her goals in life is to eat a fried tarantula.
Author Website: http://www.janeenippolito.com
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/janeenippolitowriter/