Saturday, 9 March 2013

Interview: Jenn J McLeod

Today, I have the pleasure of a visit from debut author, Jenn J McLeod, whose novel, House for all Seasons, has just been released with Simon and Schuster. :) Jenn interviewed me last year on her blog and this year, I have the pleasure of returning the favour.

Welcome Jenn and congrats on your fabulous release! I hope they are selling out in stores all over. :)

First, Whitney, can I send major cyber hugs to you on your book contract. I am soooo pleased. You have been such a generous supporter of others. (You see? Karma rules!)
Sorry, I digress. Carry on...
Haha, no problem, Jenn. I'd like to think I've saved up some karma for the release :) Now let's talk about your story. A curiosity of mine, but I'd love to know when your journey to become an author began? What inspired the creation of your series?
Whitney, an aging mind mashed milestones together so I can’t tell you when or where exactly. I can tell you that House for all Seasons was the third manuscript I wrote. (The two previous ones will probably never see the light of day. I accept that their purpose was to teach me how to write a novel that would.)

The novel that teaches you. You know, I don't think it's uncommon for authors to have a few manuscripts sitting in the dark. I myself have a few in various stages and I don't think of them as a waste of time. They are a part of the construction of the novel that finds its way to the shelf.  :)
Now, I have not two months until my novel is release on ebook and I am bursting with excitement. I can't imagine how frustrating it must have been for you to have to wait so long for your release. How have you survived the huge wait? A year long, wasn't it?

I signed my two-book deal in January 2012 with Simon & Schuster, with House for all Seasons hitting bookstores on 1 March. That’s OVER 12 months! It was tough. I’d already written both books before submitting (via my agent) so I started on book three. I then invested a lot of time in building my brand, fine-tuning my website and getting familiar with social media so when I was ready to launch I knew what the hell I was doing – sort of!

A smart plan. I myself am thankful that I've been building myself over the last year and I must say, you have done a wonderful job, Jenn. :)
So what was you're inspiration for House for all Seasons?

I set out to write a story about four women, each as different as the seasons. I took a risk and wrote four stories in one, but wrapped the separate stories in opening and closing chapters. It was a risk, but I wanted to do something different. It paid off. My publisher said “it was brave and unexpected for a debut novelist”. It was also that point of difference that won her. (If you’re interested in reading more about being brave, I am doing a year-long blog program about my lessons learned. Check out the link below

That's fantastic. Writing takes guts. And you sure have them.
Could you please pitch you're novel to us in one sentence? Tantalize us a little? :)

In a country house, surrounded by the past, four friends will discover that small towns can keep big secrets.

Wonderful! Now tell us, what has been a highlight for you on the road to publication?

Too many to mention. But I am writing this in the after-glow of my hometown book launch. I just did a blog about the experience. And yes, it was just as I’d dreamed.

I can't wait to experience some of those moments myself. To be honest, I was blown away by your cover. I love it! I am both excited and anxious about receiving mine. I hope it is as beautiful as yours. :)
Now, the nitty gritty. What has been the most difficult part about the process?

The waiting! The disbelief in self. Wrestling with the final edited manuscript as Simon & Schuster tugged on it saying, “No more read-throughs. It’s time to let go, Jenn.”


I can only imagine. I'm feeling that way myself at the moment. You want to share your story so much, but when wrestling with your writing demons, you begin to wonder about and fear the reaction of your readers. Such a nerve wracking and personal thing writing.
Now, how would you best describe your voice? Your blog has a wonderfully quirky nature. Does you're writing?

Here’s the truth… It took me a long time to understand what ‘voice’ meant. I was too busy trying too hard – trying to be something/someone I wasn’t – and writing the way I was ‘told’ to write (or emulating the wrong people). Then something happened.

As you know, Whitney, writing for publication (the market) is very different to writing for enjoyment. The industry requires certain things of authors (eg they like to label books so they can market them accordingly and sit them on the appropriate shelves or in category listings online.) Straddling genres (House for all Seasons does a bit) is frowned upon. With my 50th closing in way too fast, I developed a rather brave (read: cavalier) attitude to my writing. It was now or never.

I threw everything I’d written away (in the virtual bottom drawer) and started from scratch. I started by asking myself: “Who am I as a writer? What do I want to write?”

I took the time to discover who I was and to build an author platform/brand. Then I set a goal (I sat down in Nano 2009) and wrote the first draft of House for all Seasons. Because I wrote without any editing or trying to be something I wasn’t, what landed on the page was from the heart. It was me. I know that sounds corny, but it’s true. I guess that’s when I found my voice. So yes, the book does reflect me in all my quirky glory (I think ‘wonderfully quirky’ is a fabulous compliment - thank you.)

PS. I had the most wonderful review in which the reviewer said she both laughed and cried. That made my day. Check out what the reviewers are saying.


Well said, Jenn. Such a wonderful discovery for you. You know, I think so writers struggle with that. And I personally do myself. I love writing romance, unfortunately, not everyone I know likes the fact that I do. But, in the end, I am writing in a genre I love. I'm not about to swap my ways to please someone who might think I am wasting myself on romance and should be writing what they deem, 'real lit'. Can you tell I get frustrated with the stigma around Romance haha?
Well, enough from me. What's next for Jenn Mcleod? Are you working on something new at the moment to fill in the time until the sequel, The Simmering Season?

The Simmering Season is like a sequel in that I have taken secondary character threads from House for all Seasons and woven their stories around a school reunion that brings home more than memories for the Calingarry Crossing publican, Maggie.  I didn’t intend to link the novels, but I fell in love with Calingarry Crossing and wasn’t ready to let go! Book three – Season of Temperance – is a work-in-progress (at about 60k at the moment.) I am eager to get back into it too.

Right now though it’s promotion, promotion, promotion. And before I know it, edits for The Simmering Season will need my full attention so it can be ready for March next year.

Busy, busy, busy. Do you have any advice/last words for aspiring writers, Jenn?

Learn when to let go. Your first novel may not be the one that makes it, so know when to try something different. And make that something about YOU. Having a strong brand will make you more ‘visible’.

There’s an old Chinese Proverb that says it better than I can.

‘I dreamed a thousand paths. I woke and walked my own.’


I am documenting my journey on Writing Novels in Australia  with a dozen or more authors at various stages of their career. Highly recommended reading for authors – old and new.
Thank you so much for those words, Jenn, and for joining me here on the blog today! I wish you the best in your career and hope to here that it's impossible for everyone to find a copy of your book in a few weeks because they've run off the shelves!
Can't wait to read House for all Seasons myself, though you will have to forgive me if I don't get a chance until May haha!
Below is the blurb for Jenn's book. I hope you've enjoy this interview and go straight to the nearest bookstore and grab a copy of Jenn's book!
Next week, I have a special Saint Patrick's day post for you including a free read and a special guest appearance from Rachael Treasure. So keep your eyes peeled and if you'd like to keep up with what is happening on the blog, type your details in and follow me! :)


House for all Seasons

Four women,

Four lives unravelled.

The truth will bind them forever.

Bequeathed a century-old house, four estranged friends return to their hometown, Calingarry Crossing, where each must stay for a season at the Dandelion House to fulfil the wishes of their benefactor, Gypsy.

But coming home to the country stirs shameful memories of the past, including the tragic end-of-school muck up day accident twenty years earlier.

Sara, a breast cancer survivor afraid to fall in love;

Poppy, a tough, ambitions journo still craving her father’s approval;

Amber, a spoilt socialite addicted to painkillers and cosmetic procedures;

Caitlin, a doctor frustrated by a controlling family and her flat-lining life.

At the Dandelion House, the women will discover something about themselves and a secret that ties all four to each other and to the house – forever.


  1. Hi Whitney, the post looks wonderful. In fact, your website is quite gorgeous. Thank you for having me.

    1. Thanks for joining me, Jenn. I loved this interview. :)