Back in 2012, I reviewed Jenny Torres Sanchez’s book The Downside of Being Charlie on HelloGiggles. I fell in love with her writing, which is realistic and sometimes dark while still being funny. Since then, she’s come out with another book, Death, Dickinson,and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia (is that a perfect title or what?). She was nice enough to talk to me about her writing process, her inspirations, and the all-around awesomeness of the Golden Girls. You can find Jenny on her website and on Twitter @jetchez.
What’s your main creative gig (this can be your day job, your freelance work, or both)? Describe what you do on a normal working day.
My main gig is writing. After dropping off the big kids at school and the baby with my mom, I head to the bookstore/coffee shop and write. I’m more disciplined if I write away from home. So I write there for a couple of hours, then I walk around the store for a little while going through books. I love being surrounded by books. Then I do the whole grocery store, pick up kids, etc. thing. And throughout the time, in whatever moment I have free, I try to read as much as possible. You wouldn’t believe the ridiculous amount of time I spend waiting in the pick up line at my kids’ school, but I look forward to it because it’s undisturbed reading time.
What are your creative, just-for-fun (not money or career advancement) hobbies?
I love to listen to music and discover new songs. I love hearing the lyrics because they tell a story or parts of a story and usually inspire stories in my head. I also really love to take pictures and paint, but I haven’t had much time for these lately (the baby demands I pay attention to her, can you believe it?).
What inspires you? Feel free to be as literal or as figurative as you want.
Oh, so many things. Mainly music, but also art of any kind (photography, paintings, other books) I also get a lot of inspiration just from everyday observances and occurrences, from finding dead birds on my back porch to overhearing my kids’ conversations. Inspiration really is just about anywhere as long as you’re open to it.
Jenny says: ” I love trees in general, especially these spanish moss covered ones that are prevalent in Florida. This is also a picture of a tree in Greenwood Cemetery (the cemetery Frenchie visits often in Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia).”
In three words, describe your creative aesthetic/viewpoint.
Dark, hopeful, real.
How would you describe your creative “process”? Does it involve a lot of staring into space, doodling, or candy eating?
Definitely a lot of staring into space and always coffee and listening to music (I make playlists for whatever piece I’m working on). The music probably explains why I’m a jittery writer; I shift around and dance in my seat a lot of times. Also, I make some horrible faces and grab my head in what looks like great despair from time to time when I’m stuck. There’s also quite a bit of talking to myself. People around me must think something is really wrong with me.
What creative accomplishment are you most proud of?
My kids. They are way cool and because of them, I learn more each day, notice more each day, and wonder a lot. They make me more creative and a better thinker and writer.
What’s a big creative challenge/failure/embarrassment you’ve learned from?
Being rejected from a creative writing grad program numerous times. And I mean, NUMEROUS times. It made me feel like a huge failure, like I was falling flat on my face on concrete over and over again and people were standing around me pointing and laughing. There were a lot of tears, then there was anger, then there was resolve. And then there was a book. Failure is a huge motivator.
Who’s your Creative Lady role model (this can be a person you know, a celebrity, a fictional character, etc.)?
Frida Kahlo. I read her biography by Hayden Herrera when I was about fourteen or fifteen years old and she just struck me as this amazing, creative, strong woman. I’ve been in awe of her ever since.
One of Jenny’s favorite photos.
What time of day are you most creative? Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Amazingly, I’m a more of morning person (although those who know me would never believe this as I’m not necessarily a nice morning person).But morning time is the only time I can write. My mind is total mush by nighttime and I’m only good for reruns (that I’ve already seen a thousand times) of King of Queens or Golden Girls. My knowledge of all things Golden Girls is impressive.
Being an awesome Creative Lady can be overwhelming. What do you do to relax?
What books would you recommend to other Creative Ladies?
Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Mathilda Savitch by Victor Lodato, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal by Jeannette Winterson, and currently I’m reading a really great short story collection Jenny and the Jaws of Life by Jincy Willett.
What advice would you give to other Creative Ladies who want to do what you do?
Read and write. Don’t distract yourself with lots of other projects. Just read and write, read and write. Read. And. Write.
What’s your Creative Lady motto?
Story is everywhere.