The hardest part of being an author is probably marketing my books. I’m an introvert and a Canadian and I’m prone to self-deprecation at the best of times, so I tend to undersell myself. My kids have even started coaching me on how to do self-promotion. Not many people are going to be inclined to buy my books when I say, “Hey buy my book, if you want to. It’s sort of okay, but if you don’t want to, don’t worry about it. I’ll just post some more cat pictures.” I’m confident in the quality of my writing, but I’m not good at broadcasting that. I keep hoping someone will wave a magic wand and make me super-outgoing-sales person woman. Maybe it will happen! The writing itself tends to come fairly easily to me, although there are days when I’m doing something complex plotwise that I don’t always know where the next scene is coming from. Those days are also challenging, but fun challenging.
Can you give us a short synopsis of Confessions of a Failed Environmentalist?
Alana Matheson is struggling to recover from her divorce and to be a good environmentalist, but she wonders if her environmentalism is the reason Blaine left her. Things are also a little tight financially and she’s trying to restore a farm she and her husband bought before things fell apart. When she receives a job offer at a local mining company that pays more than twice what she currently earns, she can’t say no and discovers that her new boss, Nate, rather than being the slick corporate lackey that she expected, is a gorgeous ex-musician. But her new job doesn’t go over well with her former environmental colleagues and the whole community is soon up in arms over whether a mine should be built in their watershed. Meanwhile Alana tries to hold onto her environmental morals, do the right thing by the community, and fight her growing attraction to Nate.
What inspired you to write this book?
I used to work as the coordinator of several environmental committees in my community and I felt very self-conscious all the time about whether I was living a sufficiently environmental life for the job. I panicked every time I drove somewhere, ate bacon, or wore mascara. Even though I worry about a lot of environmental issues, I’ve never fit very well with the environmental crowd. I wanted to make the idea of environmentalism more accessible and funny for people and explore some of the things that we do (or at least I do) just to create a good environmental impression that are a little crazy. In addition, there was a major conflict in our community a few years ago about building a golf course in our watershed that caused a lot of friends and neighbors to turn against each other. I was not really involved in the conflict but it provided a lot of interesting fodder for my writing in terms of what matters to people in their communities and some of the difficulties of trying to have a diverse and robust economy while not harming the environment. And of course I love writing about romance. All my books have at least some romance. I’m not very good at sticking to all the romance rules and tropes, but I do have very hot, if a bit complex, heroes. With Confessions, I wanted to write an environmental romantic comedy—you know, an unheard of genre, but hey, I can forge new ground, right?
How many hours per day do you spend on writing?
It depends whether I’m working on a work contract or not. I work as an environmental researcher, analyst and editor, but sometimes I have stretches between contracts. When I’m not working, I write about five to six hours a day—two in the morning before going for a run, one or two in the afternoon before doing whatever kid and household activities need to be undertaken, and two at night. When I am working, I try to squeak through with three hours of writing a day. If I’m getting close to a deadline, I might bump it up to seven to eight hours. But I find that I only have so much creativity in any given day and I tend to expend it in six hours. I also spend a lot of time at my computer doing work associated with writing, such as promotions or administrative stuff, that I didn’t include in the total. I also have to spend some time each day imagining and planning my books, which I sometimes do away from my desk. It’s not writing per se, but it’s critical to the writing process.
Name your top five favourite books.
That is a tough one. I would say:
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Watership Down by Richard Adams
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
You can see it is an eclectic mix. I would give honourable mentions to Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, The Magicians by Lev Grossman, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, and Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on the third book in my Derivatives of Displacement science fantasy series for kids and adults about the intersection between science and magic. I have about ten thousand words to go in the first draft and am pretty head down in trying to get that done, but it’s almost there and I’m pretty excited about it.
Title: Confessions of a Failed Environmentalist
Author: Jennifer Ellis
Genre: Romantic Comedy / Women’s Fiction
Alana Matheson always tries to do the right thing for the environment, even when it means boycotting school meatball day, forgoing the use of makeup, or getting entangled in a bet with her non-chicken-loving ex-husband over which of them can be the most environmentally conscious.
So when a mining company proposes developing a mine right in the middle of the community watershed, well, of course Alana is going to be on the front lines opposing the development.
Except she isn’t. To her own shock and dismay, she finds herself taking a job… with the mining company. Worse, she finds herself drawn to her attractive and mysterious boss, Nate: a capitalist mining executive. The enemy.
Alana struggles to do right by the community, deal with her feelings for Nate, and maintain her own environmental morals. But as the conflict over the mine heats up, it gets increasingly difficult to be on the “wrong side,” and both Nate and Alana are cracking under the pressure.
Part satire, part serious, Confessions of a Failed Environmentalist is about the cast of characters who seem to pop up in all environmental disputes, and how all of us fail sometimes to do the right thing for the environment, in both big and small ways.
Jennifer lives in the mountains of British Columbia where she can be found writing, hiking, skiing, borrowing dogs, and evading bears. She also works occasionally as an environmental researcher.
Jennifer writes science fiction, romance and dystopian fiction for children and adults, including Apocalypse Weird: Reversal in Wonderment Media’s Apocalypse Weird world and A Pair of Docks, which was a bestseller in children’s time travel fiction. She has also contributed to several anthologies, most notably Synchronic: 13 Tales of Time Travel, which hit #16 in the Kindle Store.
She may or may not have a Ph.D. and dabble in tarot card reading and cat sitting.
You can subscribe to her blog for the latest book news and industry insights at www.jenniferellis.ca. She tweets about writing, cats and teenagers at @jenniferlellis.