Friday, December 6, 2013

Fangirl Friday: An Interview with Jen McConnel

Fangirl Friday is a feature here on the blog where I talk about authors I love and why their books are so awesome. Today I'm super excited to be interviewing Jen McConnel, who I met at my very first SCBWI conference, back when we were both new at this. Now Jen has a fantastic New Adult title on the shelves this month and a YA Paranormal coming in early 2014! Here's a little about Jen and her brand spanking new book babies!

About the Author

Jen McConnel first began writing poetry as a child. A Michigander by birth, she now lives and writes in the beautiful state of North Carolina. When she isn't crafting worlds of fiction, she teaches college writing composition and yoga.  Once upon a time, she was a middle school teacher, a librarian, and a bookseller, but those are stories for another time.  She is the author of The Secret of Isobel Key (NA 2013) and Daughter of Chaos (YA 2014).  Visit to learn more.

Tell us a little about your writer's journey so far:

It’s never been boring, that’s for sure! I started writing fiction seriously about six years ago, and in 2009 I participated in my first NaNoWriMo.  That NA book eventually became THE SECRET OF ISOBEL KEY, coming from Bloomsbury Spark in December.  In between NaNo and now I self-published, sold a nonfiction book, signed with a small press for my first YA novel, and started navigating the murky waters of life as a hybrid author.  I’m learning something every day, and I love it!

Okay, let's hear your Twitter Pitch! (140 characters or less.)

Lou’s life is a mess, but a trip to Scotland may hold the answers she’s looking for.  But everything comes with a price.

What inspired you to write this book? How is it a book only you could write?

I’ve always been fascinated with the history of witch trials, but the first time I went to Scotland, I wasn’t in love with the country.  I didn’t realize how much I wanted to go back until I’d been home for a few years, and the story of ISOBEL KEY spilled out of me.  It’s a story about transitioning into adulthood and becoming the person you want to be, regardless of the expectations of the people around you, and that’s a journey I’ve lived.  I think it’s a journey many of us have lived.

What's your favorite thing about writing?

I love when my characters surprise me.  I’m a pantser, and I rarely have an outline, so it’s fun when the book twists and turns in unexpected ways.

What's your least favorite thing?

Timing.  It feels like the publishing world moves at a different pace from the rest of my life, and it’s hard to wait for the right moment to send my stories into the world.

Now it's time to brag a little--What do you love most about your book?

I love the sweet love story, and I love the way the book and the characters have blossomed and evolved since I first drafted the tale.  It’s so amazing seeing it take shape and exist outside of my mind. Basically, this book is my baby twice over, and I love, love, love it!

Okay, now a little about you. (And yes, I stole these questions from In the Actor's Studio with James Lipton.)

What is your favorite word?

Inconceivable. But I don’t think it means what you think it means. ;)

What is your least favorite word?

Should.  I use this word WAY too much, and I hate it.

What turns you on?

A good book and a glass of wine.
What turns you off?

Cranky people.

What sound or noise do you love?

Windchimes; I’ve got them scattered around outside my house, and it’s like magic.

What sound or noise do you hate?

Anything high pitched or shrill (like nails on a chalkboard).

What profession, other than your own, would you most like to attempt?

I used to dream of being an archaeologist, and I would still love to be a part of a dig someday.

Finally, what's the one question you've always wanted to answer in an interview? (And of course, you have to answer it!)

What colors have you dyed your hair? (My hair has been my natural color for so long, most people don’t know about my wild and crazy past!) In order: Green, Fire-Engine Red, Purple, Pink, and Burgundy,

New Adult

Lou is in the middle of a quarter-life crisis. Fresh out of college, she’s unemployed and unsure of herself. But when she gets the chance to escape to Scotland with her best friend, it could be the answer to her quest for self-discovery. The trip is not at all what she expected, especially when her tour guide turns out to be the dreamy historian Brian, and together they embark on a hunt for information about Isobel Key, a woman accused of witchcraft in the seventeenth century. 
They set out to learn the truth of the condemned witch, but Lou isn’t prepared for the knowledge that awaits her. She must face her own demons if she has any hope of righting the wrongs of the past.

Flashing between seventeenth century Scotland and a contemporary romance, THE SECRET OF ISOBEL KEY is a mystery that will please readers of all ages.

Re-releasing in 2013 from Bloomsbury Spark. 

Releasing March 11, 2014, from Month9Books.

A newly declared Red Witch, governor of one third of the chaos that exists in the world, aspires to a better life devoid of destruction and pain… only to find out that the only way out may cost the lives of her family, as well as her own.

Witches must choose the path they will follow, and Darlena Agara is no exception. She’s been putting it off long enough, and in her case, ignoring it has not made it go away. In a moment of frustration, Darlena chooses to follow Red Magic, figuring she had outsmarted the powers that be, since there’s no such thing as Red Magic. But alas, Darlena’s wrong (again) and she becomes a newly declared Red Witch.

Her friends are shocked and her parents horrified by the choice Darlena has made. As a Red Witch, she now governs one third of the world’s chaos. She is the walking personification of pandemonium, turmoil, and bedlam, just as the patrons of Red Magic would have it to be.

But Darlena believes there must be more to Red Magic than chaos and destruction, and she sets out on a journey to achieve balance. Only doing so puts her at odds with the dark goddess Hecate, who simply will not allow Darlena to quit. She encourages Darlena to embrace who and what she is and to leave good magic to the good witches. If only Darlena could, life would be simple, and she would not be the Daughter of Chaos.

DAUGHTER OF CHAOS is the first in a YA paranormal trilogy.

Coming in 2014 from Month9Books 


  1. Thanks SO much for having me, lady!! <3

  2. The books sound great! Is the NA book out yet?

    1. I believe that it is. Out this month for sure! :)

  3. Great interview. The Secret of Isobel Key sounds fantastic, and I love that Jen quoted The Princess Bride!