I'm Jenn J McLeod, Australia's nomadic novelist. Ask Me Anything about The Overlooked Character and writing fulltime on the road.

Jenn J McLeod - Author
Mar 11, 2018

Hi, I'm Jenn J McLeod, Australia’s nomadic novelist. (Yep, I’m doing the big lap of Oz in a fifth-wheeler I’ve named Myrtle the Turtle, on the road fulltime and it has REALLY helped me understand setting.) SETTING is the overlooked character in so many novels. I’m the author of five contemporary novels set in Australia, including House for all Seasons (the #5 top-selling debut novel in 2013). My fifth novel, A Place to Remember (a multigenerational romantic saga set on a Central Queensland cattle station) has been the most challenging in terms of setting and what I’ve discovered about the importance of setting in fiction I am happy to share. Ask me anything about setting and life on the road as a full-time writer.




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What are your thoughts the state of the writer in the world today?
Mar 18, 9:20PM EDT0
What is one thing you never thought you would be able to do but now can due to your nomadic lifestyle?
Mar 18, 9:01PM EDT0
What are the most common questions you get about your lifestyle?
Mar 18, 8:39PM EDT0
In what ways has your husband supported you as a writer and how has this affected your overall success as a writer?
Mar 18, 4:54PM EDT0

As Australian nomadic novelist, do you have intentions to expand your wrting and traveling to different places, if you don't have it done by now? 

Mar 13, 6:03AM EDT0
How long have you been on the road and is there a time when you will consider putting down roots in one particular spot, if so, in what ways will this affect your writing?
Mar 12, 11:40AM EDT0

August 2014 we hit the road, Pam. Not sure how long we will stay on the road. The idea is to find the place we want to put down roots. It's a big country!! I will probably have more time to write, but I feel I will take lots of trips. I like to write using all 5 senses so you have to get out there and experience things.  Thanks for asking

Mar 12, 8:00PM EDT0
Do you ever feel like you are missing out on touristic and 'on the road' activities while focusing on your book?
Mar 12, 7:07AM EDT0

Well, this is a way of life rather than a holiday. That's how I look at life on the road. We don't do touristy things so much. Some of the best experiences in this country are free, like 90 miles of beach 900 miles from anywhere and with not a soul on it.  That's my kind of 'thing to do'. Thx for asking 

Mar 12, 8:02PM EDT0
Do you have plans in the near future to settle down somewhere or will you be on the road for a long time to come?
Mar 12, 6:56AM EDT0

Not sure how long we will stay on the road. The idea is to find the place we want to put down roots. It's a big country!! I will probably have more time to write, but I feel I will take lots of trips when I do settle, eventually. I like to write using all 5 senses so you have to get out there and experience things.  Still a lot of places to see. Thanks for asking

Mar 12, 8:03PM EDT0
What was the best purchase you have made with regard to your writing?
Mar 12, 5:15AM EDT0

Debra Dixons' GMC textbook on Goals, Motivations, and Conflicts. 

Mar 12, 8:04PM EDT0
How are you planning to promote your books?
Mar 12, 3:29AM EDT0

I am fortunate to have a publicist take care of promotion so I can keep writing. What I do enjoy is engaging with readers on line. 

Mar 12, 4:36AM EDT0
How should a writer establish a setting to reflect the psyche of a character?
Mar 11, 11:10PM EDT0

Hi Van, scan the other replies. I have covered this a couple of times. Thx for asking

Mar 12, 4:35AM EDT0
What are some of the factors one must consider when determining the setting of key moments in a novel, and why would this be important for the overall effect of the scene?
Mar 11, 5:21PM EDT0

Think about the atmosphere you are wanting to create - that is in keeping with the genre you are writing. Settings need depth. Otherwise they are like those Hollywood settings - flat and fake. I always give my towns a history (whether I ended up using it all or not). For my Calingarry Crossing town in House for all Seasons, I had a map on butchers paper. I could drive a Matchbox car around the street. I knew where the sun came up and when down, so I knew the shadows that fell over the town. I live and breathe my settings - even when fictional. My current release, A Place to Remember, is set on a 5th Generation cattle station in Central Queensland and I was there while I wrote. I this adds greater authenticity to settings which is what draws the reader into the story with you. YOur setting must compliment your plot.

Thx for asking

Mar 11, 7:38PM EDT0
How will your protagonist’s reaction to this environment differ to the reaction of other characters?
Mar 11, 4:26PM EDT0

Exactly! That is the question each author has to answer. I'm currently writing a story set on a beach near Byron Bay (NSW Aust) and my protag is afraid of the water, so it is important I don't let her describe the scene as sparkling blue and sunny skies. I need to take her rear into account. Good question. Thx for asking. 

Mar 11, 7:41PM EDT0
What are some of the methods a writer can use to utilize space and time to enhance a story’s intrigue or suspense?
Mar 11, 1:40PM EDT0

Writing intrigue and suspense takes a special skill. I'm not the best person to answer this. But you're right, it is important when writing certain genres that these elements be considered. Thx for asking.

Mar 11, 7:43PM EDT0
Why is the era of a story integral to the development of a story?
Mar 11, 12:37PM EDT0

The time period is pivotal to many things: how people talk, what they do, technology. In my multigenerational stories, like A Place to Remember that is two story threads 30 years apart, I have had to make sure my characters age accordingly. Not just their appearance, but also how they talk, their vocabulary. Authenticity is something readers will question if you are not consistent. Thx for asking

Mar 11, 7:45PM EDT0
How can weather be used to influence a character’s actions and thoughts?
Mar 11, 12:18PM EDT0

Good question. In writing there is a lot of you, the author, putting yourself in the character's shoes for particular scenes. How does particular weather make YOU feel? Feed this into your story. But perhaps rather than influencing actions and thoughts, the weather is used to convey overall mood of the story you are writing. Grim novels rarely have sunny skies. Thx for asking

Mar 11, 7:49PM EDT0
What are some of the necessities you have taken on your road trip and why did you choose these specific items?
Mar 11, 10:01AM EDT0

In regards to me writing on the road, it is my laptop - and a power source!

Mar 11, 7:50PM EDT0
In what ways does the place of a story reflect its themes and tone?
Mar 11, 9:53AM EDT0

See LARALOUM (a few comments above). An example is the book I am writing ATM about a woman who is afraid of the water after a childhood tragedy. I didn't realise until I was doing a read through that I had merrily described the beach as I see it - bright, sparkling, sunny,. A happy place. That is MY image of the beach. I could not have someone afraid of the water seeing it that way, so I needed to grey things, use monotone descriptions to match the story theme.  Good question. Thx for asking. In A Place to Remember, my latest, set in a region in Queensland (AUST) dotted with 70 million-year-old lava plugs, these formations reflected my character, Ava -- a woman worn down over the years, but still strong. I love Ava.  Thx for asking.

Mar 11, 7:55PM EDT0
Which three creature comforts do you miss and why?
Mar 11, 8:42AM EDT0

I miss noting, except real books. I have to Kindle read to save weight. 

Mar 11, 7:56PM EDT0
In what ways can a writer use space and time of day to reflect the emotions of a character or tone of a scene?
Mar 11, 3:44AM EDT0
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