Jennie Shortridge on her Writing

Please welcome Jennie Shortridge, author of When She Flew (click for my review).  Today, she’ll be talking about her writing and her inspiration for her latest novel.

Here’s the thing. I am an organized, neat person when it comes to the vast majority of my life. My car is always clean (on the inside), my house is always relatively picked up and presentable. So why does my home office look like a paper recycling plant exploded all over it? 

I’m a piler. I have piles and piles of very important things to do. Some day. I have piles that represent the current book I’m writing, the last book published which I’m usually still promoting, ideas for future books, contacts I need to save and really should do something about, book events coming up, events that I’d like to do, friends’ pages I need to read, students’ work I need to read, complete strangers’ work I will never read but feel I need to at least consider before realizing that’s ridiculous and I really need to concentrate on what’s most important: writing. 

I wrote my first book in a nice home office in the foothills near Denver, where I looked out my window at a brown dusty landscape. I wrote my second book largely in bed on my new laptop, in Portland, OR, where we’d recently moved. I wrote my third book in a home office in Seattle, where we’d again recently moved, because I’d hurt my neck writing my second book in bed. I wrote my fourth book, When She Flew, in same said office, but also on the train between Seattle and Portland, where I went to do research into the true story that inspired it. 

In 2004, Portland police found a Vietnam vet raising his daughter in the woods. I was fascinated by the story, and not just of the man and girl. One of the police officers chose to help the two in an unconventional way, possibly putting his job and reputation at risk. I contacted this police officer and spent the next year and a half visiting him in Portland, asking him questions, listening to his stories, hiking in the woods, and dreaming my fictional story. The result is When She Flew, the story of an Iraq war veteran raising his 13-year-old daughter in the Oregon woods and a single mom cop is on the search team to find them. Told in the alternating viewpoints of the female cop and the young girl, it’s my most action-packed story yet, and my least personal, yet it touches on themes that are very personal to so many of us: how we raise children, the connections between parents and kids, and issues of safety and security in today’s society. 

And now, I’m writing my fifth book back home in my messy office. I thought I’d clean it out between books, but I never did. Maybe it would feel too sterile if I did, and dampen my creativity. Um . . . yeah. Let’s go with that. I don’t have time to clean.

Thanks for sharing your writing and your inspiration with us.  If you’d like to win a copy of When She Flew, follow these guidelines.  This giveaway is US/Canada only!  However, if you would like a copy and live abroad, email me!  The first one to email me will receive a copy of the book.

1.  Leave a comment on this guest post with an email.
2.  Leave a comment on my review for a second entry.
3.  Blog, Tweet, Facebook, etc. about the contest, and leave a link here for a third entry.

Deadline is Jan. 3, 2010, 11:59PM EST

FTC Disclosure:  Clicking on links to titles will take you to my Amazon Affiliate page; No purchase necessary.


  1. Rebecca :) says

    I giggled when I read about the piles. I am a bit of a piler, too. I have piles of paper, piles of books, piles of mail (yikes!). But I am mostly a list maker. I have tons of lists- lists of book blogs, lists of books I want to read, lists of books I have read, list of books I own, lists of movies I want to see, lists of things I want to accomplish, etc. It's so ridiculous. I enjoyed reading this post.

  2. blueviolet says

    I can certainly relate to the author's problem with paper clutter!

    I'd love to be entered in the giveaway!


  3. stacybuckeye says

    I've been wanting to read this, so please enter me. That is a lot of research!
    stacybooks at yahoo

  4. I tweeted!


    susanaudrey316 at gmail dot com

  5. I tweeted:


    saemmerson at yahoo dot com

    Sarah Emmerson

  6. Please enter me in this giveaway! This sounds like an excellent novel.

    saemmerson at yahoo dot com

    Sarah Emmerson