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Jeanne Moran reads and writes stories in which unlikely heroes make a difference in their corner of the world. In her everyday life, she strives to be one of them.
What makes you proud to be a writer from Northeastern Pennsylvania? I live in the beautiful Endless Mountains in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Our tight-knit community boasts a strong support of the arts with a restored movie theater, poetry slams, cultural events, and fine arts classes for all ages. The local Writers Group to which I belong has been active for ten years.
What or who inspired you to become a writer? I’ve always been an avid reader and storyteller, jotting stories into notebooks and creating characters in my head. One day I realized that if I didn’t start getting those ideas out the notebook and in front of readers, no one else could enjoy them. That’s when I started taking my writing more seriously.
When did you begin writing with the intention of becoming published? About ten years ago.
Did your environment or upbringing play a major role in your writing and did you use it to your advantage? All four of my grandparents emigrated from Germany between the two world wars, and while I grew up one grandmother lived with us. So my German heritage was all around – the boisterous songs, the rich language, the ethnic food, and the beautiful photos of the land of my grandparents’ youth.
My younger sister Joyce had multiple disabilities, and she was an enormously positive influence on my life. (Risking Exposure is dedicated to her.) Because of what I learned from her about joy and patience and the value of human dignity, I became a physical therapist. I’ve worked most of my career with children with disabilities. Supporting them and their families is a life-long passion for me. I’ve written many articles and stories based on this for children, people with disabilities, and families.
Do you come up with your title before or after you write the manuscript? During the writing process, the title changed several times – it never felt quite right. A couple months before publication, I read an article on how to find your title. The suggestion was to take your story synopsis and write down all the nouns and all the verbs, then pair them in different ways with various conjugations until you capture the essence of the story. That process worked for me. Risking Exposure is just about perfect for my book – it describes the protagonist’s inner journey as well as her passion as a photographer.
Please introduce your genre and why you prefer to write in that genre? I’ve written in a number of genres – creative non-fiction, fantasy, fan fiction, childrens’ lit. Risking Exposure is historical fiction with a fourteen-year-old protagonist. That makes it technically YA, but I’ve had readers in sixth grade as well as adult book clubs. The story seems to resonate across age barriers.
What was your inspiration, spark or light bulb moment that inspired you to write the book that you are seeking promotion for? As an adult I learned about a Nazi-era pogrom in which people with disabilities were exterminated. The seeds for Risking Exposure came from my attempt to mix the oil and water of disparate feelings – pride in my German heritage and the horror of realizing that people with disabilities (like my sister and my patients) were also Nazi targets.
What has been your most rewarding experience with your writing process? Like most writers, I love the a-ha! moment when an idea or a character’s voice is clarified, and I adore the actual writing when I’m ‘in the zone,’ losing all track of time and place and being a vessel through which the story pours onto the keyboard. But unlike most writers, I love editing my work. For me, that’s when I can take my words and really discipline them into the story I want to tell.
Have you had a negative experience in your writing career? If so please explain how it could have been avoided? Probably about 50% of what I wrote for Risking Exposure ended up in the ‘deleted scenes’ folder. Basically, I had to find my story by writing my way into it. That was a long, often frustrating process. So as I’ve begun writing the sequel, I’ve done a better job in planning the individual character arcs before I start writing.
What has been your most rewarding experience in your publishing journey? Connecting with readers in person and online is amazing. I’ve had readers seek me out at community events and drop me emails about my book. A reader in Australia placed Risking Exposure on her list of favorite books of all time, interviewed me for her blog, and hosted a giveaway!
Have you had a negative experience in your publishing journey? If so please explain how it could have been avoided? The amount of time it takes to market a book has been a learning experience. I work a full-time job, so finding time to both write and market is tough.
What one positive piece of advice would you give to other authors? The more you read and the more write, the better your own writing becomes. So keep writing!
Who is your favorite author and why? I have many favorites – Stephen King because he’s a master storyteller, Gayle Forman because of her spare, powerful use of words, Suzanne Fisher Staples because of her lush portrayals of foreign cultures, Markus Zusak because of his ability to write from unusual points of view, Ellen Hopkins because of her unique novels in verse, the list goes on!
Is there anything else that you would like to share with us? The historical research I did while writing this book was an adventure in itself! It started with the US Memorial Holocaust Museum and the Library of Congress in Washington DC, moved to the March of Dimes, YouTube, and the city archives on location in Munich, Germany. Yes, I went to Germany to research my book Smile I love sharing the research/exploration experience, so I’ve put together a presentation describing the process. I’ve delivered the presentation to hundreds of people in person, and can make it available on Skype or Facetime.
Munich, 1938. Nazi Germany. War is on the horizon. The law makes fourteen-year old Sophie Adler a member of Hitler Youth; her talent makes her an amateur photographer.
Then she contracts polio. During her long hospitalization, her Youth leader supplies her with film. Photographs she takes of fellow polio patients are turned into propaganda, mocking people with disabilities. Sophie is now an outsider, a target of Nazi scorn and possible persecution. Her only weapon is her camera.
Will she find the courage to separate from the crowd, photograph the full truth, and risk exposure?
Genre: YA historical fiction novel.