Pens, Paws, and Claws would like to welcome Jennifer Leeper to the blog!
Tell our readers a little about yourself and your writing.
I started writing fiction in high school and it was bad – very bad. I published a lot in my 20s and early 30s, but not fiction. As a Journalism graduate, I got used to seeing my byline above newspaper stories and even in some local magazines, but accomplishment in fiction writing was really where my aspirations reached, and it wasn’t until my mid-30s that I published my first fiction work, a short story called Murder Brokers, in an anthology put out by Hen House Press.
Tell us about your pets. Are any of them models for pets in your writing?
I’ve had several amazing pets over the years. At one time, we had two dogs and two cats, but sadly, we’re down to one cat named Karina. She’s a short-haired, gray girl who loves lap naps and is just the right balance of dependent/independent. I don’t model my writing on my pets, however, I find they are a great comfort to me while I’m writing.
What are you reading now?
I’m reading Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness by Edward Abbey. I rarely read nonfiction, but I couldn’t resist this read because it spotlights one of my favorite, natural spots on the planet.
What writing projects are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on a crime/mystery/thriller set outside Vegas, with a female and a male protagonist, working together to solve a crime.
Who is your favorite author and why?
If you had asked me this question a few years back, I would have said Jack London or several years before that, Sinclair Lewis, but these days, it’s Tony Hillerman. I love how he elevates the regional and cultural settings of his books to main character status in his stories. His description of the southwestern U.S., particularly parts of New Mexico and more specifically, Navajo reservation culture, engages as much as Hillerman’s adept and authentic portrayal of crime-solving.
How do you use animals in your writing? Are they a character in their own right or just mentioned in passing?
I tend to mention animals in passing, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t influential in the context of my storylines, and the animals I mention tend to be wild, not domesticated species. For example, I lean toward writing about desert locales, so lizards, wolves, rabbits, and coyotes tend to catch my fancy in my fiction, more so than cats and dogs.
What’s your favorite book or movie that had an animal as a central character? Why?
That’s easy for me. Any of Jack London’s books where a dog is a central character is my favorite because he instilled humanity in these animals and that’s no so far-fetched to me.
When did you know you were a writer? And how did you know?
I knew I was a writer when I was around 12 years old and my English teacher selected my poem to submit for display at the state capitol with other pieces of writing from youth statewide.
What’s the number one item on your bucket list and why?
At the top of my bucket list is finishing and publishing a novel of 50,000+ words. Thus far, I’ve published many short stories, a novella, collection of stories, and a novel of around 40,000 words, but I really want to publish a longer work. A close tie is summiting a 14-er. A 14-er is a 14,000-feet mountain peak.
What’s in your “To Be Read” (TBR) pile right now? And how many TBR piles do you have?
In my reading slush pile are the following: Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, and It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis.
Ms. Leeper is an award-winning fiction author who’s publications credits include Independent Ink Magazine, Notes Magazine, The Stone Hobo, Poiesis, Every Day Fiction, Aphelion Webzine, Heater magazine, Cowboy Jamboree, The New Engagement, Alaska Quarterly Review and The Liguorian. She has had works published by J. Burrage Publications, Hen House Press, Inwood Indiana Press, Alternating Current Press, Barking Rain Press, Whispering Prairie Press, and Spider Road Press. In 2012, Ms. Leeper was awarded the Catoctin Mountain Artist-in-Residency, and in 2013, Ms. Leeper was a Tuscany Prize Novella Award finalist through Tuscany Press for her short novel, Tribe. Ms. Leeper’s short story Tatau was published in the journal, Poiesis, and was short listed as a finalist for the Luminaire Award in 2015, and nominated by Alternating Current for Queen’s Ferry Press’ Best of Small Fictions of 2016 Prize. In 2016, The Saturday Evening Post honored Ms. Leeper’s short story Book of the Dead with an honorable mention in its Great American Fiction Contest. Ms. Leeper’s short story The Bottle won second place in the Spider’s Web Flash Fiction Prize through Spider Road Press.
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