So today I have a super special treat for y'all. Last year I won a book that I fell in love with on the spot. I read it in one sitting, with all of its spookiness, mystery, and fabulous characters. Not only that, the author of the book is now one of my favorite people and a friend. Today, we have the author of that book here with us. Jennifer Archer has shared some super awesome insides by answering a few questions! Let's take a walk!
The last place Tansy Piper wants to be is stuck in Cedar Canyon, Texas, in the middle of nowhere, with a bunch of small-town kids. But when her mother decides to move to the desolate West Texas town, Tansy has no choice but to go along. Once there, Tansy is immediately drawn to the turret of their rickety old house, a place she soon learns has a disturbing history. But it's the strange artifacts she finds in the cellar—a pocket watch, a journal of poetry, and a tiny crystal—that have the most chilling impact on her.
Tansy soon finds that through the lens of her camera, she can become part of a surreal black-and-white world where her life is intertwined with that of mysterious, troubled Henry, who lived in the same house and died decades earlier. It seems their lives are linked by fate and the artifacts she found, but as Tansy begins spending more and more time in the past, her present world starts to fade away. Tansy must untangle herself from Henry's dangerous reality—before she loses touch with her own life forever.
(By the way,
On Through Her Eyes:
What inspired the whole spooky aspect of the story? I can't pinpoint one specific thing or event that inspired the scarier parts of THROUGH HER EYES. For as long as I can remember, I've really loved books and movies with eerie themes. I'm sure those movies and books as a whole played into that aspect of my story. Also, as crazy as it sounds, the wind inspired the eerie tone of the book to a certain degree. I live in the the Texas Panhandle and my hometown of Amarillo was recently named as the second windiest city in the nation! Forty and fifty mph gusts are common here! Sometimes when the wind starts howling and rattling the rooftops, the sound can really be unsettling.
Who was the most fun character to write and why? Bethyl Ann Pugh was definitely the most fun to write! Although Bethyl Ann is a junior in high school, she is a few years younger than her classmates. Because of her high I.Q. she's skipped a couple of grades. Bethyl Ann is a bit of an oddball -- a Shakespeare-spouting geek with a big heart who doesn't care what anyone thinks of her. She is comfortable being herself, even if that means other kids make fun of her. And she's a loyal friend to Tansy, the main character in the story. What was really fun about Bethyl Ann was that I didn't plan her as a part of the story! She just showed up on her own in an early scene and took me by surprise! I love Bethyl Ann's sense of humor and her no-nonsense way of dealing with everything.
Who was the hardest character to write and why? Henry was the most difficult character to write. He is a complicated guy! Because he's so warped in his way of thinking, Henry is hard to warm up to. But I wanted readers to at least have compassion for him. When people in real life become really troubled, the reasons why aren't always clear. That's one reason that I didn't explain everything that had happened to Henry during his life that led to his distraught state of mind. I attempted to write him in such a way that readers would sense his lonliness, confusion, and feelings of isolation and draw their own conclusions about his upbringing and his past.
How much research did you have to do for the story? Since the main character, Tansy, is a photographer and I'm not, I had to do a bit of research on photography terminology, as well as on how to set up a darkroom and develop photographs in one. It was also necessary to research the clothing, music and teenage slang of the 1930's for the scenes that take place during Henry's lifetime. To help me develop the small Texas town of Cedar Canyon, I drove to two different towns nearby where I live that have roughly the same population as the fictional town in THROUGH HER EYES (just over 2000). In one of those towns -- Panhandle, Texas -- I sat in on classes at the high school, which was a lot of fun!
Check out this fabulous trailer:
What inspired you in writing YA? I had written and published several novels for adults when I conceived the idea for THROUGH HER EYES. I was substitute teaching at the time, and one day at one of the schools where I was working I saw a copy of the classic novel A WRINKLE IN TIME in the classroom. During a break, I picked it up and started reading. I'd read the book when I was a lot younger but had forgotten how much I loved it -- and how much I loved YA fiction! A couple of days later, I mentioned that to my literary agent while talking to her on the phone, and she said she thought my "writer's voice" was well-suited to writing YA. That must've really inspired me, because I went to bed that night thinking about what she'd said and woke up the next morning with the character of Tansy in my head, as well as the bare bones plotline for THROUGH HER EYES. I thought, "What if a girl who takes pictures begins to see images from the past through her camera's viewfinder? And what if her photographs become a bridge into that past? And what if the more times she goes back, the more vivid the past becomes while her real life starts to fade away?"
One thing you wish you knew before becoming a writer. I wish I'd known how much time writers spend waiting! We wait to hear from agents and editors about book proposals we've sent. Then after the book sells we wait to do revisions. Once we've finished our part, we continue to wait while the publisher does everything they have to do to turn a manuscript into a book -- editing, layout, designing the cover, and more. We wait to see the cover art -- which is always SO exciting!Then the book is released and we wait for reviews, readers' reactions, and royalty checks!
Favorite part of being an author. Two things, actually. I love it when I'm so in the zone that the story seems to be writing itself. That doesn't happen often enough, but when it does it's like magic! And I love hearing from readers who have enjoyed my stories. Nothing's more satisfying than hearing that something I've written has had a positive effect on someone's life, even if only in a very small way.
On Random Stuff:
If you had a time machine, where would you go? I'd love to go back to when I was in high school and have a talk with my teenaged self! I'd like to tell her to worry less, enjoy life more, and take more chances. I'd tell her to follow her own heart instead of doing what she thinks others want her to do. I'd tell her to always trust her intuition, be confident, and never try to be someone she's not or alter her beliefs just to please someone else. "Work hard at something you love," I'd tell her. Finally, I'd say that time passes really quickly, so enjoy every second of her high school and college years!
If you were a superhero, what power would you wish to have? Wow, that's a tough one! I think it would be cool to be able to put thoughts in other people's minds. That probably makes me sound like a control freak, but I promise my intentions are noble! (For the most part!) I could motivate people who need a little push. Give a boost of confidence to someone who's doubting herself. And, yeah, maybe I would do one selfish thing -- like implant the thought in a lot of readers's minds that they should read my books!
If you could meet one person (dead or alive) who would it be? It's difficult to only choose one, but since you insist . . . I'll choose an author. :) I would love to meet Mary Shelley, who wrote FRANKENSTEIN in 1818. She was married to Percy Bysshe Shelley, who is one of my favorite poets. In fact, a quote by Percy Bysshe Shelley is in my novel THROUGH HER EYES and I also included one of his poems in my next young adult novel, THE SHADOW GIRL, that will be released next year by Harper Teen. FRANKENSTEIN was Mary Shelley's first novel, and I've read different accounts as to how it found a publisher. One claimed that her husband told his publisher he had written it, presumably with his wife's blessing. Another said that Percy shopped it around for his wife, telling publishers it was written by "a friend." When the book was finally published, it was done so anonymously. All this leads me to believe that women authors were not well received, so Mary Shelley was willing to allow people to believe that someone other than herself (a man, perhaps even her husband) had written her now classic masterpiece. It would be so interesting to sit down with Mary Shelley and talk about her experience as a female author during her time. I would also enjoy learning about her writing process and her inspiration for FRANKENSTEIN, as well as her other novels.
Jennifer's website - www.jenniferarcher.net
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I loved reading this story and I hope you take the time to enjoy it as well! Thank you Jennifer for sharing with us!!!