At Saturday’s free Roanoke Author Invasion, Jane Fenton will join nearly 70 other writers of contemporary and paranormal fiction in selling books and greeting fans. Fenton is based in Ferrum and is the author of the Repo Girl series.
Fenton’s series has more than 200 positive reviews on Amazon, which landed it on multiple Amazon bestselling lists. Of course that’s one place to buy the book, but you can also purchase it independently at Book No Further, through IndieBound, and on Saturday from 10AM to 4PM you can get it direct from the author at Holiday Inn Tanglewood.
Stop by and have your own conversation with Jane Fenton. Until then enjoy this BOOK CITY Q&A with the author.
BOOK CITY ★ Roanoke: Repo Girl takes place in Roanoke. What about Roanoke inspires your writing?
Jane Fenton: I love Roanoke! The downtown area is fantastic, and I especially love the City Market Building, so I used it as a setting for some favorite characters to have their fictional businesses. Because there are so many diverse communities in the city, I imagined my main character, Andi Sloan, living in one of the old neighborhoods and created three, fun, older neighbors that watch out for her. The characters and events that occur in the Repo Girl Series are completely fictional—coming straight from my wild imagination. Readers, however, may notice real locations/businesses in the settings giving the book a more authentic feel.
BCR: What, outside of writing fuels your creativity?
JF: I live about an hour southwest of the city, so visiting downtown or driving through different parts of the city always inspires new ideas for my series. I’ve also noticed that being out and about in nature fuels my creativity—hiking, biking, and kayaking.
BCR: What challenge are you currently addressing in your writing?
JF: I’m currently working on a story where I’m addressing the idea that characteristics that we consider to be weaknesses can sometimes become our greatest strengths.
BCR: That’s a worthy thought experiment. We could all benefit from that kind of growth in perspective. How do you see a favorite fictional character a model for how we might live today?
JF: Repo Girl, Andrea Sloan, can be a model for how we might live today. In the sequel, A Repo Girl Christmas, Andi has to repossess a car from a man who’s just lost his job, is about to be evicted from his apartment, and is struggling to keep his family fed and off the streets. She donates her commission from the job to help delay the repossession of his car and forms a group to pull together resources to help his family and others in need within their community.
BCR: Right there you’ve got empathy, personal engagement, creative problem solving, and community building. Those are qualities in a Roanoke neighbor that we all want. What first inspired you to write the Repo Girl Series?
JF: In March 2013, I entered a “Pulp and Paper Fiction” Writing Contest sponsored by Roanoke City’s Community School. We only had 48 hours to write a complete novel. To make sure that we wouldn’t cheat and submit a current work-in-progress, we were e-mailed very specific requirements on Saturday morning at 9am. One of the requirements was that the novel had to take place in Roanoke City. That’s when I came up with the idea for my main character – a young woman who was dealing with a mountain of debt, was frustrated with dating, and who worked a somewhat dangerous job as a repo agent. Then, I thought it would be exciting if she found a dead body during one of her repos. Let’s just say that the story I wrote in 48 hours was terrible. I had some great ideas but there were loads of mistakes, not much of a plot, and a lot of telling rather than showing. I spent the next five years learning how to write, develop plots, create character arcs, etc. I’m grateful to the contest because it showed me that I could write a complete book, and it gave me the basis for my bestselling Repo Girl Series.
BCR: Congratulations on that determination to develop your craft and on putting in the hours to do it. Writing is tough work, and selling books is tough work as well. On Saturday you’ll be hand selling: what do you enjoy about meeting readers?
JF: It requires one set of skills to write a book and an entirely different set to sell books. I’ve discovered I enjoy the marketing side of the business as well and meeting readers is one of my favorite parts! Writers are readers, too, so we all love a good book. It’s especially rewarding to meet someone who’s read my book and can share with me how they felt while they read the story and how they stayed up way to late at night to finish it.
BCR: That’s got to be nice to hear! Thanks for the chat. We’ll see you Saturday.
Meet Jane and 70 other authors from around the country, including organizer Liz Long, and local writer K.L. Byles, on Saturday at the Roanoke Author Invasion.
Or if you miss her there, you can catch her as the publisher of Blue Morpho Books on May 4 from 9AM to 4PM at the free Spring Craft and Vendor Fair at Berglund Center. ★