The Fast Five With … Jen McConnel

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By Christine Duval

It’s always a treat to interview one of my publishing sisters. Wordsmith and novelist Jen McConnel and I had the pleasure of getting to know each other as our books came out on the very same day as part of Bloomsbury’s new imprint Spark last December. Her debut novel, The Secret of Isobel Key, was released in 2013, and the sequel, Her Secret Inheritance, is out now. Set in misty Scotland, each is filled with romance and intrigue. ♥

1) What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever written?

I think my nonfiction poses the most challenges; I don’t have characters and plot to hide behind, and there’s something very vulnerable about writing in my own voice. I love writing nonfiction, though, and it’s always a great feeling to see my articles and books in print, so I keep pushing through the “what if they don’t like me” fears and telling my truth.

2) If you could collaborate with another author on a project, who would it be and why?

What a fun question! I’m really intrigued by the idea of collaboration, but I’ve not tried it … yet. Two of my favorite contemporary authors include Jennifer Armentrout and Rick Riordan, so let’s fantasize about collaborating with either of them for a minute – action-packed, myth-based fun!

3) What do you like most about being an author?

Everything! It’s so much fun to spin stories and fall into the lives of my characters, but so far, some of my favorite moments have happened when I’ve had the chance to connect with readers face-to-face. I especially love speaking at schools and working with teens; they are bursting with all kinds of amazing creativity!

4) How do you motivate yourself to write?

Sprints work well for me. Even if my schedule is crazy, I know I will feel sane and happy if I write for even thirty minutes. A lot of times, thirty minutes turns into an hour or two, but even when it doesn’t, I can still walk away from the computer knowing I wrote something today.

That being said, I DO NOT write every day. Sometimes, I let life get in the way and I make a lot of excuses. When I get back to it, I’m always rusty and cranky, but it doesn’t take long before I can make writing my routine again. I’ve actually gotten worse at writing every day since getting published; there’s just suddenly so much else that goes along with the “author” job description, but writing is my happy place. I know this. I know that I can make the time.

5) What do you feel are the top three qualities one must possess to make it as an author today?

Passion, flexibility, and writer friends: other writers will keep you sane when nothing else will!


Jen McConnel first began writing poetry as a child. Since then, her words have appeared in a variety of magazines and journals. From the mid-west originally, Jen now calls North Carolina home. A graduate of Western Michigan University, she also holds a MS in Library Science from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. When she isn’t crafting worlds of fiction, she teaches college writing composition and yoga. Visit to learn more.


  1. Vanessa Barneveld

    February 4, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    Hi, Jen and Christine!

    Loved your Fast Five, Jen! I’m a huge advocate of sprints, too. Lately I’ve been sprinting and then listening to the Audible edition of The Secret of Isobel Key during the resting phase. 🙂

    • JenMcConnel

      February 5, 2015 at 4:17 am

      Vanessa, that’s awesome! I’m honored to be part of your sprint breaks 😉 (And also…isn’t the narrator AMAZING??)

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