J. (Jenny) Keller Ford is a quirky mother of four, grand-mother and scribbler of young adult fantasy tales. She has an insatiable appetite for magic, dragons, knights and faeries, and tries to weave at least one into every story she conceives. Her muse follows her everywhere and talks incessantly, feeding her ideas for stories 24/7.
When she’s not torturing her characters mercilessly, J. Keller enjoys living in sunny Florida, listening to smooth jazz, collecting seashells, swimming, bowling, riding roller coasters and reading. Her most loyal fans (beside her family) consist of two Australian Shepherds, a mixed-breed hippy dog, and a precocious orange cat, all of whom believe J. Keller is their slave. She thinks they might be right.
Tell us about what you write.
I write YA fantasy, mostly, though I do stray into the fantasy New Adult genre. I love fantasy because I enjoy the freedom the genre provides. I can make up any kind of world I want, create my own rules, laws, limitations, settings, and no one can say it can’t happen like that. Sure there are some standards like unicorns and gnomes and dragons, werewolves, vampires, pixies, etc. As an author, though, I can elaborate or change any of the standard ideas, so long as I can make the audience suspend belief. I mean, whoever heard of glittering vampires but Stephanie Meyer did it with her Twilight series and her fans didn’t mind at all that Edward glittered, appeared in photographs, and didn’t sleep in a coffin.
Can you give us a sneak peek into your typical day?
My day starts pretty early. I’m up with my youngest son at 6:00 a.m. He’s a senior in high school and it’s our quiet time together to chat before he heads off for school. After he leaves and I get back from my 30-minute walk, I hop in the shower, get some coffee and food in me, then sit down at the computer. As I’m currently (and desperately) looking for a job, I hit up all the job sites as well as send e-mails to all the employment agencies I’ve signed with. I spend about 2 – 3 hours popping out resumes and job networking before I settle into a day of writing. And yes, I write every day. Hours upon hours I tap away at my keyboard on any one of the multiple projects I have going. I exercise throughout the day to keep my mind active. I make dinner almost every night. Sadly, I don’t have much of a life outside of walking or riding my bike (a lack of money tends to put a damper on other activities). My hubby is disabled so I tend to write and read all day. When my sons are up to it, we’ll play games like Taboo, Scrabble, Backgammon, Othello, or Pictionary, but they are usually off in their own world as a teen and 20ish year old should be. I usually go to bed around midnight.
What’s your favorite craft book? Favorite fiction book?
I have several excellent books I keep around me all the time. I would be lost with my dictionary and massive thesaurus, but I also have The Copy-editor’s Handbook, Writing Fiction, by Janet Burroway, and Characters & Viewpoint, a Writer’s Digest book. I need to get the 2013 copy of Writer’s Market. It’s a MUST HAVE for every writer.
As for a favorite fiction book? Lordy, you might as well ask me to pick a favorite star in the sky. There are so many I love. I have to say the ones I cling to the most are usually fantasy-related in some way, Young Adult, and the story sucks me in like metal to a magnet.
Describe your personality in 5 words or less.
Loving, faithful, stubborn, prideful, passionate
Tell us anything fun about yourself, related or unrelated to writing.
I LOVE collecting seashells. I could spend hours searching the sand for that ‘perfect’ shell. When I say perfect, I don’t mean without flaws, but it has to have character. Sometimes I look for color. Other times I look for unusual. Sometimes I look for broken. My favorite shells are olives. I love their polished shine from being tumbled in the surf and they always appear as if they have hieroglyphics written on them. I would love to travel around the globe to different beaches and collect seashells. Right now I have Ziploc bags full of all kinds of shells and when the mood strikes me, I make things out of them (picture frames, jewelry boxes, mirror frames, etc.) and give them away. I love making gifts for people from my personal collection of hand-picked shells.