Let’s welcome writer J. Grace Pennington to the blog for another cast/crew interview!
Month of the Novel: What’s your role in Month of the Novel?
J. Grace Pennington: I’m on the screenwriting team; I wrote the season finale for the first season, and I’m doing Episode 1 this time.
MotN: From what you’ve seen of the scripts, what do you like about Season 2?
JGP: I like that there’s more room to explore the concepts, with the length extended and twice as many episodes as last season. It’s just more full and you get to see more of the journey, which is fun!
MotN: Do you have a favorite episode from Season 1? If you had to pick based on the scripts, which episode of Season 2 do you think will be your new favorite? (You can pick your own.)
JGP: It’s really hard to pick a favorite from Season 1, but it might be a tie between The Talent Show and The Trap. It’s also hard to pick from the hilarious scripts for Season 2, but one that stood out to me was Episode 4. That one made me laugh out loud!
MotN: How about a favorite character from Season 1? Is your favorite the same this season, or have your loyalties changed?
JGP: My favorite was probably the Jester in Season 1, because he was so hilarious. In this season, it’s probably either the Computer or [Secret Character Redacted]. [Secret Character Redacted] makes me roll on the floor laughing, and I just always have a fondness for electronic characters. No idea why.
MotN: Now, of course, Month of the Novel isn’t the only thing you do. What else are you up to?
JGP: I’ve published two novels, and am working on revising more books in my sci-fi series Firmament, and I also blog about all things writing. My full-time job, though, is cooking, cleaning, playing with siblings, and generally being part of a family of eleven.
MotN: Season 2 is going to be sci-fi themed. What do you like about the science fiction genre? Do you have a favorite sci-fi book or movie?
JGP: Science-fiction is my favorite genre, for more reasons than I have space to say here. Two of the biggest are that it’s just plain cool, and that it offers so many opportunities to address fascinating topics, look at them from different angles, and explore what might happen if.
MotN: What’s your process for writing an episode of Month of the Novel? Does it differ from your process for writing other things?
JGP: Yes, it differs significantly. For one thing, I don’t usually do screenwriting, and the difference between novels and screenplays is like night and day. For another thing, I’m writing for someone else, a producer, who has the last word on every part of the process. So generally, once the premise for my episode has been decided on, I pound out a first draft, let it sit for a day or so, then tweak it and send it in to the producers. I don’t outline, other than the initial logline, and from there I discuss changes with them, and rewrite accordingly until everyone’s happy. It’s fairly simple and casual, except that I’m on a deadline. (Which the directors could tell you that I always push until the last minute. Most of my drafts were sent in shortly before midnight on the day of the deadline.)
MotN: What’s the hardest part about writing for Month of the Novel?
JGP: Distancing myself from it. Remembering it’s not my project, it’s just one small part of a bigger endeavor. The producers have to take into account the entire season and the show as a whole, so if they tell me something isn’t working, I have to let go of it, and trust them. As the oldest child and a self-publisher, I’m used to being in charge, but I have to remember that when it comes to writing for a series, my work must be subservient to the series.
MotN: How about the best part?
JGP: Getting to see my work come to life in the end. This is a first for me, and there are few things more fulfilling than seeing an actor say and act out the words you wrote.
MotN: Where do you draw your inspiration?
JGP: From my brain, I guess, or else just from the world around me. Or both. I tend to just have little bits of ideas that I store away, and pull out when I need them, often combining little things from a plethora of places.
MotN: Have you ever done NaNoWriMo yourself? What was your experience with it?
JGP: I have successfully completed NaNoWriMo for the last three years. The first year I finished a novel, Never, that I recently published. The other two years I wasn’t so fortunate. I wrote 50,000 words, but most of it ended up being unusable the second year, and most of what I did the third year was experimental and also wasn’t particularly useful. But I play to try again this year.
MotN: Just for fun, do you have a favorite food? Why is it your favorite?
JGP: Dark chocolate, if candy counts as a food. Because, it’s rich, creamy, and awesome. If not, then potatoes. Cooked pretty much any way. Just because they’re delicious, versatile, and filling.
MotN: Is there something positively unique about you that you could tell us?
JGP: I’m an incurable romantic, a die-hard nerd, an extreme sesquipedalian, a medical aficionado, an avid consumer of all kinds of stories, and I can stop my hiccups without water or fright or any other tricks.