I’ve known Jennifer Ibarra for quite some time, and it all began with her cover design query. Which led to her WordPress design, and many more projects. Jennifer is a dream to work with because we share so many of the same ideas, so I’m ecstatic to have her here for an interview to promote her debut, THE POLARIS UPRISING. But first, here’s a special message from her:
Cancer has touched all of our lives in one way or another. In honor of Brittanie Siobhan Hanson, the dear friend I lost to this monster of a disease four years ago and to whom THE POLARIS UPRISING is dedicated, I will donate $1 of every print and Kindle sale of THE POLARIS UPRISING between now and October, the month in which she was diagnosed. Every $1 will be matched by my employer, so we can double the goodness. With all of us banding together, we can stop this disease from taking any more of our loved ones.
IceyBooks: Describe THE POLARIS UPRISING in 5-7 words.
Jennifer:I’m going to steal this description from one of the reviews I got, because I think it captures it really well :).
“Frozen meets THE HUNGER GAMES.”
IceyBooks: Many novels are inspired by one sentence or question, was there one that sparked THE POLARIS UPRISING?
Jennifer: I’ve always been fascinated with sibling relationships. I’m an only child, so I always fantasized about what it would be like to have a brother or sister, and I knew I wanted to explore that in fiction one day. The question that began to niggle away at me was: what if two sisters who are as close as can be are forced to battle each other in some way? What would it do to their relationship? To the people around them? Would they be willing to sacrifice their relationship for their cause? What price would they be willing to pay to gain victory?
At the same time, there was another question that I wanted to answer: what’s the price we’re willing to pay as a society to be provided for and protected? If I were to promise you that you’d never have another worry in your life, because every need would be taken care of, would you be willing to surrender all of your liberties for that kind of security?
The two came together for me one day, and I realized I could explore both in the same story. And that was how the seed for TPU was planted.
IceyBooks: Do you have a favorite line that was removed from the original draft of THE POLARIS UPRISING?
Jennifer:Not so much a favorite line, but a favorite scene that I had to cut because it slowed down the pace and wasn’t really serving the purpose of driving the story forward. It’s a quiet moment between the two sisters in which you really get to see how much they rely on each other and how far they’d go to protect the other. I ended up saving it and posting it as an outtake on my site, because I couldn’t bear to lose it forever :).
IceyBooks: Tell us a little bit about your journey to self-publishing THE POLARIS UPRISING.
Jennifer: I had fully intended to query TPU and do this the traditional way. But the early feedback I started to get was that the bones of a good story were there, but it was long for a debut novel (120K), and dystopia as a genre was getting harder and harder to sell to publishers. I knew that if this had a prayer of getting picked up by an agent and/or a publisher, I’d need to make some drastic changes that may have altered the vision I had for the story. I had such a strong vision for it, and I didn’t want to compromise on that, so I took the plunge and decided I would publish this on my own and make sure the story that had completely consumed me for a year was the story that made it out into the world.
I found an AMAZING editor (Brenda Errichiello from eclecticeditor.com) who helped me bring out that story and get it to where it needed to be, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the result :).
It was definitely the right path for me with this book, although I may still query future books. I haven’t closed the door on traditional publishing by any means. I think both paths are fantastic, and it just needs to be what feels right for the book.
IceyBooks: Give us the three…Movies you can’t wait to see:
1. Mockingjay Part 1
2. Star Wars VII (gah, a whole ‘nother year and a half!!)
3. Mockingjay Part 2
IceyBooks: Random facts about you:
1. I’m left-handed
2. I learned to read when I was four years old
3. I’ve raised more than $15K for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through their Team In Training program
IceyBooks: Books you can’t wait to read:
1. A MILLION SUNS
2. SHADES OD EARTH
3. THESE BROKEN STARS
About the Author
Jennifer Ibarra spent her childhood pretending to be Princess Leia, Laura Ingalls, and Ramona Quimby, and as soon as she was able to hold a pen in her hand, she started making up adventures for her own characters. She lives in Silicon Valley, where she does marketing for a tech company and spends her time running, cooking, baking, and keeping up with celebrity gossip.
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