We asked Jenna Miles, author of “The Catch”, about her journey with literature, the writing world, and tips for fellow authors. See what she says below!
- If you could have dinner with another author (alive or dead), who would it be?
I would love to chat with William Shakespeare over a pint or two! I would ask him what he was up to during his “lost years” and whether or not he was a crypto-Catholic as some speculate, and I would ask to read his lost works.
- What is the first book that you really remember? The one that left an impression.
The first books that really made an impact on me were the Ramona Quimby books by Beverly Cleary. If imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery, then Beverly Cleary is the most flattered author in history, because as a kid, I shamelessly imitated Ramona’s plot lines in my own stories. In fact, to this day, they continue to influence the kinds of stories I like to read and write – stories about ordinary people and families who nevertheless harbor a spark of brilliance.
- Ideas for books can come from just about anywhere. How did you come up with the idea for your book?
One of the things I love about Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is that we get occasional glimpses into the mind and heart of Mr. Darcy. When I started writing The Catch, I wanted to make it a “Dual Point of View” novel. I wrote the majority of each chapter from Julia’s POV, but I included a paragraph or two at the end of each chapter from William’s POV, separated by a section break to avoid “head hopping.”
However, back then, I received feedback that I should revise the manuscript to be from Julia’s POV only. I took that advice, which is unfortunate because since I published The Catch, countless dual-POV romance books have become bestsellers.
Another thing I adore about Pride and Prejudice, as well as Persuasion, is how deeply I feel for the characters because of their missed opportunities. And then they get this beautiful second chance, dropped into their laps like a jewel. It’s poignant and exquisite. I wanted to make people feel that way when they read The Catch.
- Do you use music to help with your writing? Are there playlists for your books?
To save someone in Hollywood a ton of work, I already put together the soundtrack for the movie version of The Catch! I have a 63-song playlist on Spotify to pick and choose from. I’m not even joking; there are songs on there that I associate inextricably with scenes from my book. For example, and without giving away any major spoilers, the soundtrack to the scene where William rushes Julia across the Golden Gate Bridge on his motorcycle is set to “King and Lionheart,” by Of Monsters and Men. I’m planning to write a blog post soon with music suggestions for every scene! Like most authors, I might be a little obsessive…
- Which character was most challenging to create? Why?
My female MC, Julia, and her sister Alison were both challenging to write because their personalities and interests are so different from mine. My male MC, William, was challenging because I wanted to create a male character that feels authentic to readers of any gender, and I come from a decidedly cis-female perspective. But honestly, it’s challenging to create any character. I’m not trying to create characters who are carbon copies of myself or people I know, and that takes imagination, research, empathy, and intuition.
- What is something about your hero/ine that only you know?
Before Julia decided to become a marine biologist, her original childhood career ambition was to be a ballerina. She will talk about this, and why it didn’t happen, in the upcoming sequel to The Catch.
- Were there scenes you ended up cutting you wish you could’ve kept? Describe them and the decision-making process.
There was a gargantuan amount of material I ended up cutting because it didn’t move the plot forward in any meaningful way. One example is a scene where William comes to the restaurant where Julia works for his eighteenth birthday. I freaking loved that scene, and it’s always excruciating when you have to “kill your darlings.” Luckily, I was able to include it in a flashback scene in my upcoming “midquel” to The Catch, which is from William’s perspective. In this case, it does move the plot forward by shedding light on William’s crippling anxiety, and how that impacts his choices and behavior later in the story.
- What is the most difficult part of your writing process?
I tend to write the scenes that I find most interesting first, just to crank out as much as possible, as quickly as possible. The slog comes at the end of drafting, when I flesh out the scenes that I personally find less interesting, but that is still necessary to move the plot forward. It’s hard not to rush through those scenes because even if they aren’t as fun to write, they’re still indispensable, and I still need to make them interesting to the reader.
Also, see my comment in question 7 about “kill your darlings.” 😉
- If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Don’t listen to people who tell you to pursue a more “practical” day job or treat your writing like a side gig. Sure, being a financially successful author is like winning the lottery, but someone has to win that lottery. So go ahead – live in a Harry Potter broom closet with no health insurance and eat ramen noodles three times a day. Do whatever it takes, but put in the time and effort every single day. It won’t come fast or easy, and it may never come at all. But take it from your forty-seven-year-old future self – it’s better than regretting that you didn’t try when you still had the chance.
- Is there anything else you wish to tell our audience?
I genuinely love to hear from people, so don’t be shy! You can find my website and all of my social links at linktr.ee/jennamileswrite. (That’s also where you can buy The Catch.) Or you can just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. One final thing: the single most helpful thing you can do for any author (besides buying their books) is to leave a review on the platform where you bought it.