Sunday, 4 November 2012

Interview with Jill Van Den Eng

Welcome to a rare Sunday post, everyone. How are you all doing with NaNoWriMo? May your inspiration be high and your word count plentiful!

Today we're chatting with author Jill Van Den Eng about her novel, DIVIDED MOON.

Hi, Jill! Tell us a bit about yourself. 

I lived in the Midwest most of my life. I am married with three sons. Some people think it would be hard to be the only female in the house, but I like it. I never have to kill a spider and all the cute shoes belong to me.
How long have you been writing?

I wrote angsty poetry as a teen, and attempted to write my first novel on a Brother word processor. I don’t even know how far I made it with that book. It is trapped on a disk from ancient technology. I went into journalism and learned that as much as I love research and facts, my favorite stories were about people.

Tell us about DIVIDED MOON. What’s the story about?

DIVIDED MOON is the story of Moon Vang, age 14, who is told by her immigrant father that she must marry a much older now. Moon feels trapped between the sometimes isolating Hmong traditions from a land she never lived and teen life in small town Wisconsin during the 1990s.

How did the idea of the story come to you?

I learned a lot from my Hmong classmates, who were just like everyone else at school but their lives at home seemed so different from my experience. Pang was a friend of a friend who was going through a particularly hard time and was generous enough to share her story with me. She was the daughter of Hmong immigrants and got married while still attending high school for cultural reasons. Her story haunted me, and made me think about the challenges first generation Americans face, living a culture within a culture. The lunch scene between Xiong and Moon came from something Pang told me, only her story turned out far different than Moon’s.

Do you have a critique group/partner or beta readers, or do you self-edit?

I have a fabulous critique group. I could not do it without them. They are not afraid to tell me what is not working and offer suggestions for improvement. Having someone tell me the faults in a piece is rare, and I have a whole group of people like that. They don’t just focus on the negative, but work to improve all our writing. We learn a lot together with group discussions on plot, character development, tension and other elements in story telling.

Are you a planner or a pantser?

I am constantly evolving as a writer, but probably more of a planner. I like to know where I am going with a story, although sometimes the characters have other ideas.

What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

Getting down a first draft is the biggest hurdle for me, and it is only the beginning. Figuring out what is wrong with a first draft I labored over so much is the most heartbreaking, but not quiet as grueling.

What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

Pen and paper. Although I write on my computer, I like to take notes or work out story problems the old fashioned way.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

I would like to read minds. Is that a superpower?

Definitely! What's the weirdest thing you've googled?

Sometimes I Google celebrities to see if they are still alive.

LOL. Yeah, you never know. Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: division,
evasion, and symbol.

Division focuses on the differences between us, and evasion leaves us disconnected, while hands clasped with your enemy’s is a symbol of the eroding notion that we are one human race in a polarizing election cycle.

Finish this sentence: If I'm not writing, I'm probably ... 


Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Let's hear your shout outs.

Shout outs to my husband Dean who supported me as a starving artist and to my kids for being good about bedtime when Mommy has to get to her computer before she falls asleep too. A big shout out to my critique group partners, both past and present, for helping me shape this book into something I am proud for people to read. I want to thank Solstice Publishing for taking a chance on a first time novelist; a very patient cover artist, Kelly Abell; and my gracious editor, Jane Finch.

And finally, where can people find you and your book online?

“Divided Moon” is available in all e-reader formats on Smashwords, on Amazon for Kindle, on Barnes and Noble for Nook and as a PDF on For those without e-reader devices, a paperback will be available on Amazon by the end of November.

Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Jill. Your book sounds great, and I wish you lots of success!


Jess said...

Great interview! This book has such an interesting premise, and I can't help but feel sympathy for Moon just in reading the summary. Nice cover too!

Suzanne R. Klein said...

Great interview, Jill! I love, love, love your book. It's so fun to read it in published format. Thanks for the shout-out to our critique group. I'm so glad you are a part of it.

Thank you to We Do Write for posting this interview. I think it's great that you do this for debut authors!

Dorothy Dreyer said...

Thanks, Jess and Suzanne, for stopping by. :)