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Interview with Jennifer Ann Shore, Author of Young at Midnight

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What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write Young at Midnight?

Usually, my ideas come from fragments of dreams, but this one was born purely out of obsession—so this was definitely an interesting one to write.

I absolutely love watching hours of music videos, and it has definitely helped make me fill the void of missing concerts during COVID. I don’t remember exactly how it got in my queue, but I think YouTube’s algorithm started bringing me behind-the-scenes looks at the music videos I watched, giving me a look at how they were produced.

After that, I started doing more research into the music industry and started imagining all sorts of scenarios that these rockstars are in, which gave me the idea for Travis, our fearless performer.

But when it came to creating Dakota’s character, I thought it’d be interesting to have her immersed in the world and, frankly, have no patience or interest in the celebrity lifestyle. (I also started my career in New York in journalism, so this gave me an outlet to frame what a ten-year veteran reporter would experience…and I loved living vicariously through her.)

I’ve read a few books about getting swept up in the world of Hollywood how that’s been used as the main conflict for the story, and while Dakota does see some of the complications of fame, she’s more focused on Travis and her career than all that nonsense, which I think helps ground Travis—and in turn, he helps her see what she’s been missing by throwing herself into reporting other people’s lives and not enjoying hers. 

What’s your favorite scene from your new release, Young at Midnight?

Definitely the music video scene.

As I mentioned, it was the crux for this story originally, but it was also a lot of fun to write. I’ve done some video production work in the past, so I’ve definitely drawn on that experience, but researching specific to this scenario was half the fun.

In another celebrity romance book of mine, This Is Your Life, I take that main character to watch her love interest act on a film set, but I took it to another level with Dakota and actually had her be in the video. It also served as somewhat of a turning point in their relationship

If you had to write a blurb for the last book you read, what would it say?

Ooh, the last really great romance book I read was “King of the Court” by R.S. Grey, and I absolutely loved it. She did such a great job with the blurb, so I’m not sure I can build on it, but I can elevator pitch it to you if you’d like!

“Grouchy and gorgeous star NBA Player falls for sweet and snarky small-town waitress.”

What romantic couple from literature makes you swoon? Which one is over-hyped?

I will forever be an Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy fan! I love Pride and Prejudice as a book, but it’s probably one of the best book-to-film adaptations I’ve ever seen as well. (Specifically talking about the 2005 one, of course!)

As far as overhyped, is it really cliche to say, Romeo and Juliet? I know a lot of romance books use it as some sort of basis, and I do enjoy modern takes on it, but the classic version…not for me. I appreciate it as a literary work and how big of an impact it has had, but I also think I just had to read too much Shakespeare and write too many papers from that time period in college to really appreciate it.

What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?

Within romance, there are so many subgenres that it’s almost wild to think that they’re all lumped together. Because while my books definitely have romance in them, I think they’re a little bit more than the standard of what you see—they go a little deeper with other plotlines, and while the relationship is a key part, it’s not the entire story.

That said, I can’t help but love reading a very dark and angsty romance, but I have a really, really hard time writing in that space. (And trust me, I’ve tried.) I’m truly in awe of writers who can create stories that are a little on edge, and I burn through so many of them on Kindle Unlimited. 

Do you have any quirky writing habits? Where did you write Young at Midnight

I am very, very particular about what music I listen to when I write, but everything else changes. Pre-COVID, I was writing in coffee shops and airplanes quite a bit, but now, I mostly move around all day from the couch, to the backyard, then to my office—it’s mostly based on where my dog wants to nap!

As far as quirky habits, I’ll indulge my sweet tooth while I’m writing, and it usually ends up in my draft somehow. For example, I was pounding back cereal while writing The Extended Summer of Anna and Jeremy and craving Pop-Tarts while writing Metallic Red. For Young at Midnight, there’s a reason why Travis has nostalgia for Tootsie Roll Pops—and why he and Dakota argue over which is the best flavor. (It’s chocolate, by the way!)  

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

I’ve got two, actually, that I think help frame my kind of personal work and writing ethic:

1. Make your writing easy to enter.

When I pick up a book, I don’t want to have to decipher crazy codes and immediately get hit with complicated world-building and character names—I want to get right into the story and stay there. There’s, obviously, a need to build the story and explain all that stuff if need be, but I want my readers to pick up my books and dive right in. At least, that’s the type of experience I try to create!

2. Don’t accept invalid criticism.

I learned this from one of my favorite professors in journalism school who made an entire career as a film and television critic.

All authors have to deal with one-star reviews and people who have nothing better to do than tear your work apart. And that’s actually fine by me—for the most part—because this stuff is all subjective and people who read the book are going to have different opinions. But that doesn’t mean you have to accept it as fact into your own brain, if that makes sense.

It comes down to this: If you’re receiving criticism and reading, you must only accept criticism that’s valid.

What I mean is that people who write things like “this book was a waste of time” (thankfully, no one has said that about my work yet!) aren’t being at all constructive. They’re offering a take based on their opinion, not fact, whereas if this person said, “The first act is a little slow in the build-up, and unfortunately, it didn’t hold my interest enough to continue on,” that would be something that actually has a basis.

It’s really hard to do something as vulnerable as putting one’s art and writing into the world, and it’s just important to keep this in mind once you do! Still, when it comes down to your own writing, I think the most important opinion is the author’s. 🙂 

Jennifer Ann Shore is the author of the new book Young at Midnight

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