This week I have a special treat for you. My friend Teri Thackston, who writes YA as T. Lynn Odom agreed to answer a few questions about her The Jaguar Princess Rules series. All three of her books, Never Pick on a Jaguar Princess, Never Ambush a Jaguar Princess and Never Break the Heart of a Jaguar Princess are all available at Amazon.
Fifteen year-old Juli Perry is new at Onca Lake High School. That’s tough enough without being unexpectedly orphaned, moving to the old family farm…and growing new freckles that aren’t really freckles. Juli has to adjust to more than she expected. You see, Juli is a shapeshifter—and not just any old shape-shifter. She’s a jaguar princess.
High school freshman Juli Perry is proud to have made the track team in spite of the bullying tactics of the Track Pack. She’s happy to have best friends, at last, as well as a real boyfriend for the first time in her life. Best of all, she’s learning to manage all the gifts that come with her newfound identity. But someone in the Onca Lake shapeshifter community doesn’t appreciate Juli’s abilities. Someone wants to bring her down.
Juli hasn’t been this happy in a long time. She’s dating the guy of her dreams and he’s teaching her to embrace her jaguar side. She’s making more friends than she’s ever had before. But not everything is perfect, and she can’t blame her latest problems on the Track Pack. Actually, those bullies are suffering too—and it might be Juli’s fault. And when her heart is broken…well, things are going to get a lot rougher for everyone involved.
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Teri.
First of all, where are you from?
I was born and raised in Southeast Texas. My family goes back to before the Texas Revolution, including one of Stephen F. Austin’s “Old Three Hundred”, a travelling preacher who sermonized in outlaw camps and a WWI hero among others. I guess that’s where I get my love of history, adventure and heroism.
How long have you been writing?
Short stories for long as I can remember, but I wrote my first “novel” when I was 11. My dad borrowed a typewriter from his office for me to type my creation—a spy novel that curiously resembled an episode of the TV series “Get Smart”.
Where did your love of books come from?
Definitely from my mother. She’s always been an avid reader and she has quite a collection of romance and suspense novels. Gothic romances were all the rage when I was a pre-teen, so I got a heavy dose of those elements early on. And, thank God, she also bought every Alistair MacLean book, so I got a taste of adventure stories, too.
Where is your favorite place to write and why?
I have two spots where I do most of my writing – my very messy office for focused-leave-me-alone writing (no music allowed unless I really need inspiration) and parked on the living room sofa for spell-checks or looking for repetative words and phrases (mycharacters tend to nod their heads and smile a lot—gotta watch that) with Swing or Rock-n-Roll playing.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
I love to write a spooky ghost story, an action-packed suspense or an adventurous western historical—all with a healthy dose of romance mixed in. Whether for young adult, tweens or “grown-up” readers, I focus on one book at a time for first drafts then I make a schedule that allows me to juggle books. That helps the stories hold my interest and lets me look at my work with fresh eyes every couple of months.
What are some day jobs that you have held?
I’ve worked outside the home for most of my life. I’ve been a chicken-fryer, sales clerk, computer operator and application programmer. Currently, I’m the policy and procedure writer for a deathcare firm—it’s a fascinating business and it’s sparking all sorts of story ideas.
What is your most recent release?
I have a 3-book YA paranormal series about a shapeshifting teenager who just found out what she is. Attending a new school is tough enough, but discovering she’s part of shapeshifter royalty threatens to really mess up her life. The series starts with “Never Pick on a Jaguar Princess”, followed by “Never Ambush a Jaguar Princess” and “Never Break the Heart of a Jaguar Princess”. I published them under my pen name of T. Lynn Odom and they’re available only on Amazon right now, but I’d be interested in hearing if anyone would like to see them for sale elsewhere.
What is the hardest part of writing?
That silly sagging middle. I usually have a beginning and ending in mind when I start a story, but the in-between often challenges me. I really have to work on getting from A to Z in ways that keep things interesting as well as move the story forward.
What are your current projects?
I have 3 projects in various stages right now. A three-book young adult science fiction series that features the element of hard light (think Green Lantern if he was a teenager), a humorous sci-fi screenplay a la “Sharktopus” and a paranormal romance featuring on of my favorite elements—a haunted house. I hope to publish the YA sci-fi trilogy in early 2016.
What other artistic pusuits do you indulge in?
Does pulling weeds count as an artistic pursuit? I do a lot of it! But I do enjoy working in a little “park” area we created in our front yard. A four-foot hedge surrounds it, looking clean and manicured from the outside but deliciously woodland-like on the inside. We have a bench, a stepping-stone path, some concrete animals peeking from under the shrubs and a sundial, all of which creates a lovely setting for daydreaming.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Don’t be afraid to stretch yourself. Try different genres…you might discover you really enjoy a type of writing that you never considered doing. I found that to be true with Young Adult, and I’m so glad I tried it!
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I deeply appreciate all the support you’ve given me—the kind words of encouragement keep me going in this difficult but wonderful, unbearable but rewarding career.
You can find out more about Teri Thackston/T. Lynn Odom at http://www.terithackston.com/home.
Last week’s winners of Born to Read t-shirts are Vanessa Schmidgall and Faith Russell. Please send your mailing address and your t-shirt size to firstname.lastname@example.org. Congratulations!