Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today I interview Jana Grissom, who is about to release her first Young Adult Fantasy One Price; Two Kingdoms in the fall. Her extensive work with teens makes her the perfect person to write books about their experience while giving them a whole new world to explore through reading.
Welcome, Jana. Please tell us about your vision of yourself as a writer.
I want to impact readers by taking them through an exciting journey that shows the main character conquering fears and overcoming obstacles to accomplish their dreams. After reading one of my novels, I want the reader to walk away with a new sense of hope and value as an individual. I have worked with teens for more than fifteen years, and I know self-esteem is the primary struggle in their world. They feel inferior or unloved. I am here to tell every teen (and adult!) that they are valuable and able to take whatever world they live in and make the best of it! They are powerful enough to construct their own future by setting a goal, committing, and never giving up!
That is such an important message to bring to teens and adults. Give us a little information about your new book.
My debut novel, One Prince; Two Kingdoms, takes readers into the life of a foster kid who overcomes adversity and fights for the future of everyone. Johnny Boggs is a teen with trouble to spare who has learned one thing in life – trust no one. Paranoia befriends him as he moves into his fifth foster home and discovers no one appears as they are, his dreams are not just dreams, and he is supposedly the Prince of Shamayim.
On Johnny’s sixteenth birthday, fate requires him to leave the protection of this world but allows for him to choose to reign over the light or turn to the darkness. A vicious competition begins as two kingdoms fight for his loyalty while two beautiful girls, Danielle and Shay, fight for his attention. Time is running out; a decision must be made. Johnny finds it impossible to resist the beauty of his dreams, nor can he turn away from the one who has his heart.
It sounds like an exciting plot. What is the best thing someone could say about this book?
That it made a difference in their life, encouraging them to keep going even when the whole world seems to be against them. One Prince; Two Kingdoms was written based on real life experiences. My family and I were foster parents for more than four years. We loved and protected more than twelve children in that time. Each one had their own struggles yet they never gave up; neither will Johnny. He will choose a kingdom, and he will make his future into whatever he desires. Each one of us has that same choice! I hope this novel inspires everyone to take charge of his or her destiny.
Explain how this book was conceived in your imagination.
One Prince; Two Kingdoms came about as a result of disturbing nightmares two of my foster children were experiencing. After several nights of being awakened by their screams and running to comfort them, I had an idea – write a story and let their imaginations defeat their fears. The children were excited to hear stories of magical worlds and powerful celestials (the Grissom’s aka my family) sent to guard them. Each night before bed, I would add new scenes and more adventures. After a few weeks, the nightmares were replaced with excitement to hear the next chapter read.
That’s a wonderful story in itself, Jana. I’m sure those foster kids have never forgotten you and what you gave them. What else do you want readers to know about your book?
I never dreamed of publishing until working on a project with my middle school students. We were writing and I shared my novel that I had written a few years earlier with them. They were captivated, and I was surprised. They helped me edit it one more time and then we, as a class, sent the email to a small publisher with great anticipation. Honestly, I did not expect a reply. I was sending the manuscript to encourage my students to chase their dreams and look, it happened! I received an email back offering a contract. Boy, was I surprised and could not wait to show my class. Needless to say, we cheered and had a party! Now we impatiently await the arrival of the novel. (Especially since each one of my students has their name as one of my characters in One Prince; Two Kingdoms.)
What an unusual and exceptional way to help guide your students to a love of reading. You are truly an inspirational teacher. Is there one book or author with whom you identify or hold up as your standard-bearer?
Author: Frank E. Peretti
I was inspired as a teen when I read Piercing the Darkness. Each night, I read until my eyes refused to stay open. I was enamored with the parallel spiritual world existing around the people. I have continued to read his work and love the deep morals. It is like being on a literary treasure hunt to find hidden diamonds of wisdom. It is my deep desire to write amazing literature that can be categorized alongside Mr. Peretti. (I think I would faint if I ever met him!)
When you’re not busy teaching or writing, what do you do during your down time?
Even if it is just a drive to a Texas State Park, I love to spend time with my family and travel. They are my world. Right before this interview, I was at my son’s first high school football scrimmage! Go Wildcats! Our next adventure will be moving my daughter to college. By my side through everything is my high school sweetheart and husband, Roy. (Yes, ladies, fairy tales can come true if you wait for Prince Charming!)
I agree with you there, Jana. Thank you so much for stopping by today and sharing your amazing story. I wish you lots of success with the publication of One Prince; Two Kingdoms.
About Jana Grissom: Jana is a middle school teacher, an advocate for foster children and at-risk teens, a mom of two amazing teens, and married to Roy, her high-school sweetheart. Jana holds a Master of Education in Administration and Policy Studies and offers professional development in bullying identification, prevention, and intervention. She is available to speak to students at secondary schools about the writing process or bring a message that challenges them to S.T.O.P. bullying and suicide.
Where to find Jana:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/1Prince2K and https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJanaGrissom
Purchase links for One Prince; Two Kingdoms will be available October 31, 2013, on Amazon and B&N.