J.E. Mueller is a midwesterner who spends just as much time writing as she does saying ‘ope’ and laughing at memes. Mueller was born and raised in IL where she still currently resides despite her lack of love for snow, ice, and that random ninety degree heat wave in October. Friends of Mueller consider her to be a fun, whimsical, and relaxed person who might be a bit too fixated on penguins despite not owning one. Much to everyone’s surprise, penguins have yet to surface in her writing. Currently, Mueller is focused on writing all things magical and adores having characters battle curses, tangle with spirits, and face off against wicked family members for a chance at a better ending.
Why storytelling? What made you yearn to tell a good story, and how long was this story within you before it came out?
I don’t know why. My siblings were used to me telling stories before bed, and I excelled at creative writing projects in school. NaNoWriMo gave me the perfect excuse to write and work on writing year round. It was always something I did so no one was really surprised when I finally declared I was publishing.
This story originally came to me in 2005. I thought I did a killer job telling it and then set it aside for a few years. I am so glad I did. It’s far better now. Silly high school me did have some good ideas though.
What is it about your genre that speaks to you?
Magic. Something about it completely enthralls me and I find it next to impossible to not include magic in my writing. Everything seems duller without it, as if it’s missing something. There are so many possibilities with magic involved!
Without giving any spoilers, what is your favorite thing about this book?
A princess gets to try and save herself. Not often enough is that done.
When you are writing, tell me about the emotions that are running through you and what it takes to work alongside them.
Overall, I love being caught up in the emotions of the scene. I put on some background music and let myself dive in. I find the scenes I am more attached to, are the ones readers get the best feel for. If I need a scene to be different than what I’m feeling, I love going all out on mood music to set the intensity. The youtube recommendations anymore are getting ridiculous since I’ll give most any suggestions a shot.
Everyone has at least one specific challenge that holds them back. What is that challenge in your work and how do you overcome it?
My biggest challenge is that feeling that I’m a fraud. How can I be an author? How can I possibly think people would ever want to read this or even enjoy it? It’s really a hard thing to battle against and I have found the biggest thing is to just express it. So many others are feeling this way. If that doesn’t work, I go to my main beta. She has zero trouble tearing apart scenes. I know if she is complimenting something, I have really earned it.
You’re going to go back and visit yourself when you first started writing, at whatever age it was, and you can give yourself one piece of advice. What would it be?
Ears closed, write from the heart. There was a time where I gave up writing because my family kept calling it stupid and pointless. So, ears closed and write from the heart. It’ll all work out in the end.
Let’s talk about tools. Do you have a word processor that you would tell us to use? Is there a certain computer that has become your favorite? What do you look for in a keyboard? What would you absolutely have to have if you were to sit down and write your next book?
I haven’t tried a lot of programs, and I really just pick keyboards based off on if I like the feel. The one thing I cannot live without now though is my dual monitors. It helps me be so much more productive. I can keep notes and references on one screen, or if I need to rewrite something completely I can keep the old version on one side for reference. The lack of switching tabs and trying to refind my place is a great timesave.
Describe your workplace.
My writing area is a small table with dual monitors, a fancy gaming keyboard, some pens, and several Porgs. There might be a few too many notebooks. I like to keep it fun so right now my area is filled with Starwars and Halloween things. Before this it was covered in Skyrim figures and a mystical snail looking beanie-baby.
If you could live anywhere other than where you are, where would it be?
Slightly undecided. I’m very tired of the midwest temperature changes but haven’t seen enough of the world to really decide. Ideally somewhere regularly in the 70s with a lake.
Now that you have published your first book, do you have any dreams you have not reached? Goals for new books, series beyond this publication, or anything else that can tantalize the fantasy public?
My biggest goal is to release two books a year. I love all things fantasy and would love to branch out and try other aspects of it. Nothings fun comes from playing it safe, so while I plan on finishing my series in 2019, that won’t be all I’m working on.
If we reach beyond the written word into visual media, and you could choose how your story is consumed, would you want a television show, a movie series, or anime to tell the story of the book and the world it takes place in?
I never considered it being an anime before now and wow. I love the idea. I think that form of media could do my storyline justice and very little would have to change to adopt it. I really want this now.
Do you have any regrets about the story you told? Would you make any changes to its telling or did you capture exactly what you were looking for?
Regrets? No. I learned a ton writing this book. There is a lot I have changed in my writing and will continue to work on for future projects. I don’t think this book is perfect. It was my first, and there was so much more to the process than I was expecting. I am still glad I gave it my all, and I plan on updating it once the series is finished. (There are three planned books)
Do you have a celebration that you embark on when you finish a book, be it a release party, a trophy, or even a shot of whiskey?
I tend to celebrate with my Discord chat. We cheer each other on and are always ready to celebrate milestones. After doing all the online stuff, I really like to video game binge. I primarily play Nintendo and PC games. The current ones I’ve been playing the most are Stardew Valley (multiplayer beta!), Splatoon 2, and Breath of the Wild.
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