Jennifer Juan is a cultural melting pot of an artist. She is a writer, a musician, a producer, a film maker and a podcast host, currently residing in the Kent countryside, but dreaming of the ocean. A tornado of darkness and delicacy, Juan creates engaging and powerful projects, using a variety of mediums and platforms, each dripping with her signature playful, yet powerful style of writing.
Have there been any authors who have influenced your work? If so, who?
I’ve always been very inspired by Carol Ann Duffy. I’ve been reading her work since I was a little girl, and she has always been somebody I admired and was inspired by.
Out of all the characters you’ve written, who is your favorite? Why?
Probably Marina, who is featured in my upcoming media project “Drowning In Us”. The project uses music, film, and poetry to tell Marina’s story, as she tries to create a new life for herself, after screwing everything up. I think a lot of people have moments in their life where they wish they could just run away and start again, and Marina actually does it. It was a lot of fun to throw her into the worst time of her life, and then write her out of trouble.
Are there any types of scenes you find more difficult to write? Which ones and why.
I mainly write poetry, and a lot of what I create is based on my own life, so it can be difficult to relive some of the more tempestuous and troubling experiences, but it does feel freeing to create something from those moments.
What would you say the most rewarding part of being an author is?
I think for me, being able to reach out to other people, and share my experiences, and to be able to create something from the life I’ve lived is the most rewarding thing.
What advice do you have for authors just starting out in their journey?
I think the best thing someone can do is learn to appreciate their own voice as a writer, and their own style. It can be tempting to copy what you see, and what is popular, but sooner or later, it becomes obvious that it isn’t authentic. Being yourself and discovering your own way of doing things is one of the most challenging but rewarding things any creator will do, but it will always be worth it.
The other thing I would advise is to build a base for yourself, like a website you regularly update, or a social media page that contains your information and content. Make it easy for people to find you, and your work, and see what you’re all about. It’s such a shame to see some writers creating amazing things, but barely sharing them, or making them accessible to an audience. If you don’t have the resources to create your own online spaces, there will be other creatives who can help. I recently launched a poetry contest on my own website for this reason, as part of the prize package is the winning and commended entries being read on my podcast, “Sincerely, Jennifer x” and hosted on my website, with biographies and further information about the writer. There are lots of other creatives who are doing similar things, and sharing their own platforms, so there is a lot of help out there for young writers who want to get more exposure for their work, or find a base for potential fans to find out more about them.
Do you have a writing ritual? If so, please explain.
I like to dress up sometimes, when I write. I take bubble baths before, a lot, and just stay in the water for a little while, thinking about what I’ll write about, and then I get dressed, and make sure I feel good, before I get started. I like to listen to records while I’m writing. I have a lot of instrumental, ambient stuff, but I also like older things, like The Beach Boys or Bobby Vee, it depends on the kind of day I’m having.
I normally start with a stream of consciousness, so I can get down everything I’m thinking, and then I pick out the things I’m most struck by, the things I’m really in love with, and begin crafting them into something bigger.
Was being an author something you always wanted to do?
In a sense, yes. I was very interested in creating things in general, and dabbled in music and acting, but along the way, I ended up focusing mostly on writing.
If you could have a conversation with any one person, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
Joan Crawford. I think she was a fascinating and talented woman, and I’d love to get some more insight into her life and who she was. I wrote a poem about how fascinated I was with her life, and how I see parts of her in myself sometimes, in my recent poetry collection “Kissing Boys, Just For The Thrill” so, it would also be interesting to ask her what she thought about that.
Would you care to provide an excerpt from one of your books as a sample of your work?
This is a poem called “You’re A Crushing Bore (But I’ve Got A Crush On You)”, taken from my latest book “Kissing Boys, Just For The Thrill”.
You spent two hours,
telling me you’d never break my heart.
You spent two hours,
breaking my heart,
just from wrapping it,
that it suffocated.
about your nights,
as a werewolf.
My fingers lost in your fur,
as you left me marked,
by bites you’d apologise for,
when the moon was put to bed,
and you awoke,
worried what I thought of you.
When the sun is in our eyes,
you’re a crushing bore,
but I’ve got a crush on you.
My hands speak a language that I know you understand,
but most days,
you pretend your whole body is deaf.
I play on the tracks,
hoping for a highspeed service,
to take me somewhere sublime,
but you’re still waiting at the station,
ignoring green light,
after green light.
and you miss,
by not playing at all.
I stole your mind,
from your back pocket,
in some bar,
where you were so interesting,
before you shrank to the ground,
found naked in a field,
and I am marked,
missing the man you are,
when the moon comes out to make you a monster.
Make sure to check out Jennifer's work at http://jenniferjuan.com