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Spotlight: Mystery and Urban Fantasy Author, Jennifer L. Hart (aka Gwen Rivers)

Behind the scenes of the audiobook industry:

An exclusive interview with USA Today bestselling author, Jennifer L. Hart (aka Gwen Rivers). 

Born and bred in upstate New York, USA Today bestselling author Jennifer L. Hart lives in North Carolina with her three Hart men, two spoiled canines and a host of imaginary friends. She is the author of several romances and mystery series, including The Misadventures of the Laundry Hag and Mackenzie & Mackenzie P.I.  Jennifer also writes urban fantasy under the pen name Gwen Rivers.

Welcome, Jennifer!  Tell us about your author journey.

I was a frontrunner with both indie publishing and audiobook production. I’ve been an indie since 2006, when I first self-published via Lulu. My first successful indie title was The Misadventures of the Laundry Hag: Skeletons in the Closet. That was also the first audiobook I produced in 2014.

What have been some milestones in your career? 

Making the move to audio was huge for me. I always loved listening. I grew up with books on tape, so I was eager to adapt to a new format. I don’t tend to fixate on milestones so much. I write when I can, and then every once in a while I look back and take in how far I’ve climbed from where I started.

What’s your writing process?  Where do you find inspiration for your work?

Plot – that four letter word! LOL. Anyone who wonders why I don’t write faster, that’s the reason. I have great characters, but figuring out what to make them do in a believable and engaging way … yeah, that’s the tricky part.

Do you map out everything before you write or let it carry you along wherever it will?

I waste a lot of time mapping things out, then I get bored when I know what is going to happen, so I discard the plot, and just let the good times roll.

Is it hard work, or does your work ‘write itself’?  What makes it harder some days than others?

The characters can write themselves, day and night, once I turn on the tap. But once again, plot. My discard file could choke a donkey, LOL!

What aspects of being an author are fun?  What do you love about what you do?

I love my imaginary friends and writing up the incident report for all their zany adventures. I love that I can work in my pajamas with a severe case of bedhead.

What do you like the least?

Marketing is tough. I have difficulty talking to people. You won’t find my name on any rosters at conferences or events. Crowds overwhelm me. Even social media gives me fits. I’ve got a terrible case of Impostor Syndrome and manage to convince myself that nobody cares what I have to say. Getting over that is a struggle.

What brought about your decision to produce your work in audio?

I started writing mystery with women sleuths because that was something I grew up with. It was familiar and comfortable and easily adapted to my sense of humor. I never considered my work “cozy”, since my characters like to cuss and get naked, LOL. Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series are my favorite mystery audiobooks.

Over the last few years I’ve been branching out more into urban fantasy. I have always been intrigued by fantasy world building, and I read a lot of paranormal and supernatural books. Much of 2019 has been consumed by setting up my new brand, and moving my backlist titles (like The Goodnight Kiss) to a new pen name for urban fantasy.

How did you go about getting your work into audio?

I don’t even remember how I heard about, but I liked the idea of hearing auditions of my book like a script, so I put two titles up on the site to see what would happen.

ACX (Amazon’s audio production for indies) added a signing stipend to my royalty share deal for The Misadventures of the Laundry Hag: Skeletons in the Closet. This guaranteed the narrator an extra amount of money for production, which meant I had a lot of auditions to wade through, LOL. Suzanne Cerreta was the best of the bunch, and I have contracted her for every one of my mystery titles since!

How involved are you in audiobook production? Do you need to provide a lot of direction or advice to your narrator?  

My mysteries are all first person POV, and my narrator, Suzanne Cerreta, just seems to get my heroines – from Maggie’s Southern snide in The Misadventures of the Laundry Hag mysteries, to Jackie Parker’s wry humor in the Damaged Goods series. Suzanne is very intuitive and brings all of my characters to life. thanks Jennifer for making herself available for this exclusive interview.

Connect with Jennifer L. Hart (mysteries with romance):  

Connect with Gwen Rivers (urban and rural fantasy with kickass heroines): listings for Jennifer L. Hart and Gwen Rivers (request these audiobooks free!):

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