Jennifer Bean Bower is an award-winning writer, native Tar Heel, and graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Bower is the author of North Carolina Aviatrix Viola Gentry: The Flying Cashier; Animal Adventures in North Carolina; Winston & Salem: Tales of Murder, Mystery and Mayhem; Moravians in North Carolina and numerous articles. She lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina with her husband Larry and their pet rabbit Isabelle.
What five words describe you?
Loyal, Dedicated, Adventurous, Detailed, Inquisitive
What are you working on at the minute? What is it about?
Many years ago I began writing a historical novel based on a true North Carolina crime. However, other projects and work-related responsibilities prevented me from completing it. Now that my book North Carolina Aviatrix Viola Gentry: The Flying Cashier has been released, I plan to focus all of my time and energy on finishing it. As with many crimes, the story is a twisted account of love, lies and murder; yet, this tale is anything but typical. Throughout the novel, readers will be forced to defend the main character or stand with his accusers. Only in the end will they find out if they chose correctly.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
My latest book tells the story of Viola E. Gentry who was the first federally licensed female pilot from North Carolina. Gentry set a course for the sky and did not let anything—be it discrimination, financial hardship, misguided landings, crashes, physical limitations or tragedy— put an end to her dreams. She always trudged forward and kept a smile on her face.
There are so many wonderful actresses to choose from; but, I believe Renee Zellweger would best portray Gentry’s spunky attitude. In 1929, Gentry crashed her airplane into a pile of manure. When she discovered what she had landed in, she roared with laughter. Only Renee Zellweger (in my mind) could adequately recreate that scene!
If you could have been the original author of any book,
what would it have been and why?
Without a doubt, it would have been An Illustrated Guide to Ghosts & Mysterious Occurrences in The Old North State, by Nancy Roberts. Roberts, who passed away in 2008, was known as the “First Lady of American Folklore.” She was an author, a storyteller and minister. Her stories, which she researched extensively, were intriguing; yet, easy to read. As a result, her stories encouraged many children (myself included) to read. After reading Roberts’ books, I wanted to visit the towns in North Carolina she spoke about; I wanted to learn more about North Carolina culture and I desired to read more about my state’s history. I would love to inspire my readers in the same manner that Nancy Roberts inspired me.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
The hardest thing about writing is finding the time to do it!
Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
Writer’s block happens to me a lot! Sometimes my thoughts fly right out the window and I find myself staring into a stark white page on the computer screen. I type, I delete, I type and delete. When this happens, I generally (if the weather is nice) take a walk outside. The fresh air and increased blood flow to my brain seem to round up those wayward ideas.
Where would your dream location be for writing?
My dream location would be a cabin that is tucked away in the mountains of North Carolina; a quiet place void of a television and other distractions that vie for one’s time.
When creating characters, are they based on people in your life?
I have not had to create characters, as I write non-fiction. The main characters in the historical fiction I am working on are based on real people. However, if I was tasked with creating characters, I would definitely draw personalities from people I know and have known. I think it would be hard not to.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad?
Yes, I read my reviews, as I enjoy hearing from my readers. I have never responded to a review; but, appreciate readers who take time to leave one.
Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
No one has the ability to please everyone. In high school, my floral design teacher (who often picked up a floral arrangement and turned it upside down to see if anything would fall out) often provided negative reviews on mine and my classmates’ floral masterpieces. He told us the remarks should not be seen as harsh and unjust; but, should be accepted as a form of constructive criticism. He reminded us that praise alone would not help us grow (become better); would not force us to reexamine what we had created, and would not compel us to look for ways to improve. I think the same can be said for a bad book review.
If you couldn't be a writer, what would you be?
If I couldn’t write, I would love to share the history and heritage of North Carolina; particularly Appalachian culture, through the spoken word. Storytellers have the wonderful opportunity to see the emotions brought forth from their words.
What would you tell your younger self that would have helped
you in your writing career?
When I was in the second grade, I loved to write plays. My teacher was very encouraging and allowed me to “produce” a couple of them. If I could go back in time, I would return to the second grade and tell myself to write about anything and everything; to write often, and never suppress a story. I would tell myself to participate in young author classes, enter writing contests, and make connections with other writers. I would tell myself to write, write, write!
Where can we buy your books?
amazon.com; historypress.net; blairpub.com; and wherever books are sold.
How can we keep up with you? Blog, Facebook, etc......