Zrinka Jelic lives in Ontario, Canada. A PAN member of the Romance Writers of America, as well as Savvy Authors, she writes contemporary fiction— which leans toward the paranormal —and adds a pinch of history. Her characters come from all walks of life, and although she prefers red, romance comes in many colors. Given Jelic’s love for her native Croatia and the Adriatic Sea, her characters usually find themselves dealing with a fair amount of sunshine, but that's about the only break they get.
I met Zrinka through our mutual friend, Erika M Szabo, and am getting to know her as an incredibly nice, friendly soul with a cool sense of humor. She is a fine and gifted writer, a very prolific author with a love of history and the paranormal. We belong to a number of the same online writing/author communities, as well as many Facebook groups where authors can promote themselves and their books. I thought it might be fun and interesting to interview her, and it was. So here we go!
What and who are some of your influences?
Though I enjoy writing styles of several authors, I don’t believe I’m influenced by them. I strive to find my own style and voice and not write the same book everyone else is writing. Yes, writing commercial fiction for profit tends to lead to the mimicking that hot book everyone reads and talks about. I’ve seen this happen with the Twilight series when vampires exploded and saturated market. I’ve seen this fad with The Hunger Games, Fifty Shades of Gray, and I’m pretty sure I’ll see it again and again.
What inspired you to start writing, and how long have you been writing?
I’ve always written and made stories up. My imagination got me in trouble when I was a child because some kids couldn’t see that I’m making it up, but actually believed it to be truth. I didn’t start seriously writing until seven or so years ago when a friend said I should really try. I took her advice, believing nothing will ever come out of it, but to my surprise, my debut novel got accepted for publication. Now, seven books later, and several short stories that appeared in anthologies, I’m glad I listened to her.
What genres and/or literary style do enjoy writing in the most?
I’m a romance lover through and through.
Tell us about your latest published book, short story or novella.
My first self-published book (but #7 in the line) is titled The Wedding Date, and it’s a romantic comedy. It’s a story of a pretend date that turns real.
Besides the “entertainment factor,” what do you strive for in your writing?
Well, I’m always super careful of grammar, being non-native to the English language, however, even with numerous critique partners, beta readers and editors some error always seems to slip through. And with foreign name readers, reviewers are very, very quick to point that out in their reviews. Many of the reviewers are authors themselves and their own books could use tighter editing. So I suppose the saying ‘before you accuse me, take a look at yourself’ doesn’t apply in their case.
Would you say that your stories are more plot-driven or character-driven?
I never understood this question. How can you have a story without either factor? Characters react to the events in the story (plot points) if they don’t react how much of the story would be there? So one is driving the other, there would be no plot without characters nor would there be characters without a plot. At least that is how I see this. Characters and the plot are equally important and essential components of the story. (Great answer and you ask a great question . . . and you’re the first to ask that question! As I see it, plot-driven or action-driven is usually where the story is more concerned with the gizmo or gadget, and action. Character driven is when more thought is given to characters, more introspection, and often deal with the human condition. I write mostly adventure stories with a lot of action, but I spend more time on character relationships and interaction than I do on the “action scenes.” So I try to make my stories driven by the characters and their motives: I’m more concerned about the lives of the men and women who build the rocket ship, than the actual building of the rocket ship. That’s my definition, at least. — JB)
What can you tell us about your latest work(s) in progress?
I’m struggling as to what to write next. I’ve started two projects and not sure about either. They would eventually get completed, but at the time I’m leaning towards something else, only I don’t know what that is yet. (It will come to you. The characters will tell you when it’s time to write their story. — JB)
In what direction do you think your work is now heading?
I think this brings me back to the previous question. I may have to take a very long break and see if I should continue on with writing. Writing is my creative outlet and I’m not competitive. I do not wish to cheat Amazon to improve my ranking. This and reviews stating I need to find a better editor put me off writing. It’s hard to have your dream so blatantly crushed shortly after it barely took off, but that’s the way the world’s moving. I understand that there will be criticism, we all get reviewed in our jobs, but that is done behind closed door of your manager’s office, not put on the public display.
What genre of fiction have you not yet written for, but plan to in the future?
I planned to write a YA and actually tried it, and not finding my voice there.
What are some of your all-time favorite films and TV shows?
I stopped watching television long ago and got rid of cable. And I never regretted it.
Tell us about your writing habits, such as: Do you outline extensively? Do you create your characters first, or your plot? Do you listen to music while writing, and if so, what kind?
I start outlining, but eventually give up because I never know which way the story will take me. I think I create plot first, and develop characters around it. Our life events shape us to who we are and we change with them. I do listen to music, but it has to be strictly instrumental or the lyrics will distract me.
What else can you tell us about yourself and your reading habits?
I like to read any genre as long as the story captures me. I’m not a grammar Nazi (though I try my best to get the grammar as correct as possible) so I don’t pay too much attention to grammar errors unless they are on every page. I do, however, have a pet peeve with head hopping, choppy styles, info dumping, telling, long paragraphs that are a hurdle to read, stiff dialogue, too many dialogue “tell tags” where action/emotion should do that, or in some instances . . . no tag was needed because it was clear who spoke; incorrect info given without fact checking (e.g. in a book I’ve read the heroine earned her black belt in TKD in two years. Not a chance!) Then there are characters where their name and/or appearance change part way through the book; and of course, the plot holes. These are the things that will make or break a book for me. I don’t nitpick if a word is misspelled or a wrong word is used due to auto correct feature. I read the book as a whole, not a separate sentence.
Thank you, Zrinka, for being such a good sport and taking the time to do this review and letting me pick your brain a little. It was fun and insightful.
You can find Zrinka Jelic and her books on Amazon and Facebook.
Be sure to check out her website, too!
Amazon Author Page:
On Facebook: Zrinka Jelic, Romance Author