Swoon Twins: Jenn P. Nguyen and Danika Stone
I find it really cool whenever Swoon Reads decides to have Swoon Twins – authors with the same release day. I mean, more reasons to celebrate!!!
Last year, we had Temple West and Kimberly Karalius, celebrating their book birthday on the 12th of May.
This year, we have Jenn and Danika – celebrating their book birthday every June 7! ❤
What is your full name?
Jenn: Phuong Anh Nguyen
Danika: Danika Stone
How old are you?
Jenn: I’m 28.
Jenn: Anything really! I love to try new things.
Danika: This all depends on my mood. Usually it’s blue or green.
Danika: Shooting star (a wildflower).
Danika: Bedspring Kiss, by The Jellyfish
Favorite TV show?
Jenn: Definitely Friends.
Danika: Currently? Game of Thrones (now that the entire show is officially
Favorite place to read and/or write?
Jenn: At home all snug on my couch
Danika: I write at my kitchen table and read EVERYWHERE.
Jenn: Anna and the French Kiss
Danika: The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger. Love it so much!
Who are you when you’re writing?
Jenn: I get to be whoever I want to be. To get into the mind of my characters, I feel like I have to become my characters to identify with them. Whether it’s a crazy mother or a sweet choir girl. Or even the mean girl. And to me, living through your characters is one of the best parts about writing.
Danika: When I’m writing, I’m a time-stealer! The words often come faster than I can keep up with.
Who are you when you’re not writing?
Jenn: I’m actually a pretty quiet person when I’m not writing. I’m the sweet quiet girl who rather not be the center of attention. Not quite a wallflower, but pretty close.
Danika: When I’m not writing, I’m a dreamer, thinking of all the lives I’d rather be living and places I’d rather be. (In other words, pre-writing!)
Which do you prefer more?
Jenn: Of course I’d rather write because then I can do and say things I would never ordinarily do in real life.
Danika: I love the dreaming slightly more, since writing involves editing…and that’s actually hard work.
What drives you to write more?
Jenn: I write because I love to write. Because I love to create stories in my head and the pride I get from actually getting it down on paper.
Danika: I have a hundred books just waiting to be written. Whenever I get tired of writing (or, more specifically, of rewriting), I remind myself of those unwritten stories.
How often do you experience writer’s block and what do you do to get out of it?
Jenn: Hundreds and thousand of times. I usually try to immerse myself into the story as much as I can. Whether it’s by rereading the previous chapters or brainstorming the characters or plot with a friend.
Danika: I’m lucky in that I have a writing schedule so regular that writer’s block has never been an issue for me. (Hope this keeps up!)
Are you a perfectionist when it comes to your work?
Jenn: Unfortunately, yes. I tend to revise as I write and that’s why my first drafts always takes so long. I would love to be able to just write a story quickly and then revise it later, but I’ve never been able to do that. My mind always wants to go back and tweak things.
Danika: Oh goodness no! I’m actually terrible at seeing errors, so I have to listen to an audio version of my writing to tell if it works or not.
Do you like making outlines when you write, or do you prefer to start from scratch and work your way from there?
Jenn: I’m a huge outliner. Like if I could worship at the Altar of Outlines then I would. I always have to have a detailed chapter outline of my story before I even start writing. A plan has to be made. Once I’ve tried to just write, but I barely got to three chapters when I got stuck because I just didn’t know where the story was heading.
Danika: I take the middle ground, laying out a general plot, then going off the rails if a new idea starts to take root. It works for me!
If you could do both at the same speed, which would you prefer: Writing on paper or typing your words? Why?
Jenn: Definitely typing my words. I have horrible handwriting and I hate having to write longhand. Plus I’m not very good with spelling so I love autocorrect. It’s basically the best invention ever (besides the Internet and brownies). To be honest, most of the time, I don’t even bother trying to figure out how to spell something and just let autocorrect do the work for me.
Danika: I cannot – CANNOT – write longhand, because I almost never write sequentially. Word processing is a must for me.
What is the best writing advice that you could share with us?
Jenn: Do what you love and everything else will follow. I’m pretty sure I got this from a fortune cookie, but it was during a time when I wasn’t having any luck with writing and querying. And I planned to just step back and take a break from everything when I got this fortune. And it actually pushed me to keep going.
Danika: My best advice is just get it done. It doesn’t matter how bad it is, how messy, just get it out of your head. You can edit garbage, but not a blank page.
Of all the things that you’ve ever written (poems, essays, short stories, novels, etc.), which one is the most special to you?
Jenn: My debut book is actually my favorite thing I’ve written. Not because it’s been published, but because it was the first story that I felt was my best work. Of course, I have many other novels I’ve written before this one, but I knew in my heart that they weren’t ready. That I wasn’t ready.
Danika: Right now, it’s an as-yet-unnamed YA project which I’m really excited about. (And since it’s not officially announced, I can’t share it. Sorry!)
Swoon Reads recently announced Internet Famous, the latest book from Danika – and I think it’s safe to assume this is the book? 🙂
ON THEIR BOOKS
What inspired the idea of your first book with Swoon Reads?
Jenn: I wanted to write a fun romantic book like the korean dramas that I loved to watch. One in particular had a fake romance and that got me thinking about what a fake relationship would be like and how much fun it would be to write.
Danika: My friend, E, is @CoulsonLives, a fan who decided to bring Agent Coulson back from the dead after he was killed off at the end of The Avengers. When I saw what she’d done, I thought it would make a great premise for a story! The characters and the plot of All the Feels is completely fictional if course, but that original idea of a fan taking on an established piece of canon is what started it all.
What message would you like your readers to learn from that book?
Jenn: I want my readers to know that it’s okay if life doesn’t turn out exactly like you planned it to be. Sometimes things change and you just have to deal with it. Keep your chin up. Plus, what could seem like a horrible thing could actually turn out to be the best thing that could have ever happened to you.
Danika: The biggest message for fans is that it’s okay to be who you are and love what you love. Fandom is an amazing place because you are supposed to be enthusiastic. I love that!
What is the greatest challenge that you have encountered in the publishing world and how did you overcome it?
Jenn: I think the hardest thing I’ve actually have to overcome is the fact that my book is actually out there for the world to read. I’ve always been very private about my writing. In fact, for the longest time, no one actually knew that I was writing and querying. Many of them didn’t even find out until I got my publishing deal! It’s been hard to have my book out in the open, but also exhilarating all at the same time.
Danika: The biggest challenge is getting your first big break. For me, that was signing my agent. As soon as that happened, everything else fell into place.
How does it feel to have a Swoon Twin?
Jenn: I don’t know about everyone else, but being Swoon Twins with Danika in particular has been AMAZING. I always thought I was a nice person, but Danika brings the word nice to a whole other level. She’s always so upbeat and positive about everything that it’s hard not to be excited with her. Not to mention, she’s super talented, humble, and is always ready to lend a hand. Whether it’s to help retweet a giveaway or just to lend an ear as you rant or freak out. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without her.
Danika: I absolutely LOVE Jenn! She’s a fantastic writer and has taught me so much about the publishing industry. I feel like the entire process of publishing is easier if you have someone to lean on and Jenn is
that person for me. If you haven’t read The Way to Game the Walk of Shame, you definitely have to!
ON BOOK DISCRIMINATION
How would you define book discrimination?
Jenn: I think book discrimination is when you judge a book before you even read it. Whether it’s by the cover, author, publisher (self-published, small publisher, etc). It’s the same as judging someone because of their clothes or looks without even bothering to get to know them first.
How do you feel about it?
Jenn: It’s very sad and wrong for people to be this way. There are some amazing books out there that aren’t being discovered because of this.
What do you think is the cause of book discrimination?
Jenn: I feel like sometimes people are just stuck in a box. They assume things without even bothering to find out if it’s true. THE WAY TO GAME THE WALK OF SHAME deals with this both in the story and in real life. In the story, Taylor’s reputation is torn to shreds because people assumed that she had a one-night stand with Evan. And no one bothered trying to find out if it was true. In real life, I’ve gotten many comments about THE WAY TO GAME. Whether it’s about the cover or title or summary, people have assumptions about the book and dismiss it. Although there are also awesome people who didn’t think they would like the book, but tried to read it anyway. This is what everyone should do for all books. Give it a chance.
What would you do against it?
Jenn: I’d say everyone should try to step out of their box and try to read something new every once in a while. Whether it’s a new genre, a self published book, etc.
Fill in the blanks. More people should read ________ by ________ because ________.
Jenn: More people should read more books by lesser known authors because they’ve worked hard to show their books to the world.
Danika: More people should read books by #OwnVoices authors because the more diversity we experience through reading, the more understanding and empathetic we become as people and that makes the world a better place
It’s fun to read their answers because here you get to see what they have in common and what makes them different.
Jenn and Danika, I really appreciate what you shared with me and my readers. Thank you so much for participating!