For the Artists Who Like to Remain Strictly Out of the Box
JEN ESTES is the author of Big Leagues and the Cat McDaniel Mystery Series. A former baseball blogger and freelance sportswriter, she has been featured in Mystery Scene Magazine, Penthouse Magazine, Digital Sports Daily, Yareah Magazine and Examiner.com.
Jen is a member of the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR), Springfield Poets & Writers, Sisters in Crime and the National Writers Union (NWU).
Jen currently lives in Illinois with her husband Nathan and three cats, Wrigley, Ivy and Captain Moo. When she isn’t writing, Jen enjoys running, yoga, traveling, baseball and of course, reading a good book.
1) When did you first realize that writing was something that you wanted to do?
I’ve always been a bookworm, but I didn’t really start writing until my twenties. Even then, I was really only writing for me. It wasn’t until I’d written Big Leagues that I thought, “Hey, maybe someone else would want to read this.”
2) How did you find your way into sports writing? Is it just baseball that you love writing about or are you just a sports fanatic in general?
I started a baseball blog a few years ago, not expecting anyone to really read it, but it turned out to be a big hit and my writing career was born. I was really just a baseball and hockey fan, but I married a big NFL man… so now I’m also a 49ers fan by marriage.
3) You just released a novel, Double Play, which is the third novel in your Cat McDaniel mystery series. Can you tell us a little bit about your novels and what the readers can expect when they dive into it?
It’s nothing but trouble when Cat’s ne’er-do-well brother shows up on her doorstep. She considers leaving him out there and after he starts gambling on her team, she wishes she had. Between his betting lines, she finds greedy gamesters, desperate ballplayers and an enterprising bookie looking to raise the stakes.
4) A mystery series centered around a sports writing sleuth is a unique angle for this particular genre. Where did this idea come from? How many novels do you see in the future of this series?
The first book in the series, Big Leagues, came to me after my beloved Cubs were swept in the ’08 playoffs and baseball season was suddenly over – much too quickly! I’d gotten in the habit of watching 3+ hours of baseball every day and I wasn’t ready to stop thinking baseball, so I took all that free time and poured it into writing. Three books later, here I am. I’m working on the fourth now and I have one more planned after that.
5) How much of yourself did you pour into the character of Cat McDaniel?
She’s probably half me and half what I want to be. She’s neurotic with a chip on her shoulder (that’d be me), but she’s also honorable and tenacious (which is easier to write than it is to live).
6) What is the first book you can remember reading? Who is your favorite author and what about their writing inspires you?
The Airship – it came with my Teddy Ruxpin. As much as I loved Teddy, he spent most of his time in the Grundo Hospital so I finally started reading his books by myself. Once I was ready for books without pictures, I discovered Jane Austen and her six books are still my favorite today. They’re captivating, entertaining and timeless – what writer isn’t inspired by that?
7) I read that in addition to your love of sports writing and cats you also love all things sci-fi. Is there any chance you will venture into writing sci-fi novels in the future as your writing career progresses?
If only there was a way to combine all three of my loves: futuristic cats playing baseball on Mars, perhaps? Joking aside, I’ve actually got a few ideas on the horizon – stay tuned!
8) So many writers say that they hate reading their own work? Do you ever just sit down and curl up with your own book? How does it make you feel to have your novels be so well received by your readers?
Reading my own book is like listening to my voice on an answering machine. It just makes me cringe and second-guess myself, such a terrible feeling. The opposite of that, though, is hearing someone else enjoyed it. A compliment from a reader makes all that second-guessing completely worth it.
9) What is your writing process like? Do you outline before you begin writing? What does a writing day look like for you?
I write straight from the hip and when I get going, I don’t quit until I’ve got a very basic first draft – this usually means two straight weeks of pajamas. After that, I can get dressed and start fleshing out the story.
10) So many writers struggle when it comes to having to tap into their business side in order to become successful and maintain that success. How do you think writers can go about channeling their inner business person without feeling like they are losing that creative side of themselves?
Try not to look at it as marketing to the masses, but rather reaching out to your readers who WANT to hear from you. Readers love books and we’d love to hear about yours!
11) What are your thoughts about how the publishing industry is drastically changing? Are you more of an e-book person or a traditional book person?
I took a little longer than most, but I finally made the switch to e-book a year and a half ago. I’ve always loved the physical sensation of a book in my hands; rubbing my fingertips along the edges and smelling the inks on the page. But being able to score virtually any book at any time of day without even getting off the couch? Win.
12) Ten years from now where do you see yourself within your career? What advice can you provide to writer’s who are just embarking on their journey?
I hope to still be writing and maybe even venturing into a more genres. To new writers, I preach patience. Publishing is an excruciatingly slow business and as you jump each hurdle, the next one seems even farther away, but I promise, you’ll get there.
13) Where can we find out more about you and your books as well as follow your career?
Stop by my website at www.jenestes.com, friend me on Facebook and let’s tweet @jenestesdotcom.
14) I feel like so many of us writers, or artists in general, are made to conform to other people’s idea of what we should be. I think us creative types should be unafraid to be whoever it is that we feel we have the right to be. So what is your write 2 be? What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity?
I want the “write 2 be” indefinable. The publishing industry tends to shackle writers to one genre and while I absolute love writing my cozy baseball mysteries, I also want the freedom to write where inspiration takes me, even if it is a futuristic space cat sci-fi.
Big Leagues (December 2011, Camel Press)
Rookie sportswriter Cat McDaniel is on deck in Sin City for the job of a lifetime with baseball’s hottest team but her dream job soon becomes a nightmare.
Curveball (October 2012, Camel Press)
Cat’s back… and desperate to get off the bench, but it takes balls to survive spring training. Curveball is book 2 of the Cat McDaniel Mysteries.
Double Play (April 2013, Camel Press)
When sportswriter Cat McDaniel suspects postseason gambling amongst her team, the game’s on… and all bets are off. Double Play is book 3 of the Cat McDaniel Mysteries.