Interview with Livy Lynn!
I had a wonderful chat with one of the persons who was most influential in me becoming a published author, Miss Olivia Jarmisch! She is a published author whose online presence and public platform and ministry to young women goes way back! She herself is a young woman and a creative entrepreneur with loads of experience and beautiful insight. I look forward to sharing our conversation with you! So without further ado, here it is:
Me: Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about you! Olivia: I wear a lot of hats and I do a lot of different projects but basically I am an author, I have handful of books published for young Christian teen girls. I am a singer, songwriter, blogger, YouTuber and I help coach other authors who are interested in publishing and growing their platform. I have a lot on my plate!
Me: Yes you do! Would you call yourself a “creative entrepreneur”?
Olivia: I think so, yeah!
Me: Would you mind sharing a little bit about your journey into this creative entrepreneurship? What brought you into full-time storytelling through words and music?
Olivia: Yeah. I have been a storyteller for as long as I can remember. I’ve always had a super active imagination! I had these dolls and had elaborate story lines whenever the neighbors would come over to play i would fill them in on what had been happening and what was going to happen in the “next episode” so to speak. I love storytelling when I was little. I started actually writing as soon as I learned how to write and played around with little stories I would write. But when I was a teenager I had this bad habit of starting stories and never finishing them. I enjoyed the storytelling but didn’t enjoy the practical aspect of writing, spelling, grammar, all that good stuff. I wasn’t into it. I had all these ideas but never really did anything with them. It wasn’t until I had graduated high school and I was running an online magazine for Christian girls called Crown of Beauty. I was doing a lot of devotional writing, a lot of non-fiction articles and then I connected with a group of girls and these old stories kept coming back up [in my mind] and I realized this was a perfect opportunity to share my fiction with people. So that’s kind of the short version of how I got into all of this. Me: It sounds like through putting things out there you identified your audience and your niche?
Olivia: Definitely. My focus is teen girls. I don’t think I woke up one day and thought, “I’m going to write for teen girls.” It has definitely been a process of learning who I’m called to serve. I don’t think it just happened overnight. But certainly the things that happened after graduating started pointing in this direction. Using fiction could be a great way of reaching girls as well.
Me: What brought you to the point where you were inspired or confident enough to start sharing your stories or the storytelling process with a wider audience? Olivia: Well, I was very nervous about starting to release my fiction. I think what started or gave me the courage to start sharing my stories with people was with my cousins. I have younger cousins and we have always enjoyed sharing stories and ideas and stuff. I was talking with them about The Coronation, which was the first book I published, and they were super interested in it. So I was like, well, I’ll read you guys the first couple chapters, and it’s funny because they’re all boys and The Coronation is definitely a girl’s story, And so they were very interested in it and they’re like, “this is so cool! You should share this on Crown of Beauty, your girls would love it!” So I thought, “Hmm, I wonder if they would?” So, it gave me the courage to slowly see if people might be interested in it and so I asked for beta readers (people who want to read the story ahead of time) and I got a lot of feedback where these teen girls were super excited and super into the story and that’s really what gave me the courage to realize, yeah I guess I’ll publish this story after all!
Me: Yes! And for anyone who’s listening I have The Coronation right here in my hand and it is not a little book! I mean, you write...I mean this is...the story itself is 454 pages and this is a 6x9 book! This isn’t just a tiny little book! But it sounds like, and correct me if I’m wrong, you kind of write towards the upper-middle grade/young adult audience, is that right? Olivia: Yes. I feel like the target audience is really like 12-19, I think.
Me: So what is your mission in telling stories to these girls and to this age group and really anyone who gets involved in your stories. What’s your mission? Olivia: Yeah, so my tagline technically is: creating pure and lovely reads for Christian girls. And I think of the Bible verse [that says]: whatever is true, lovely, noble, excellent, praiseworthy meditate on these things; think about these things. So for me that came from growing up as a young teen I would go to the library and I just wasn’t finding the kind of content I wanted to be enjoying. It was either interesting and had inappropriate things that I didn’t feel comfortable with as a young teen or the books were not my style or I thought were kind of boring. I had trouble finding the kind of content I wanted to read as a teen. As I got older, well, or for a while I gave up reading as a teenager...I kind of got a little frustrated with it. So when I was older, as a young adult I ended up coming back around to that and having the passion to create content that I didn’t have when I was a teenager. I think about [the fact that] I have nieces and nephews and what kind of stories are they going to want to read and what kind of things do I wish I could read when I was a teenager. One of my favorite quotes is: “If you don’t see the book on the shelf that you want to read then write it.” So I literally took that quote and I did it. I think that really has been my main purpose, to create that content that is pure and lovely.
Me: I love that! So, knowing your mission and knowing your audience...if we could speak to another audience...you said you coach people who are aspiring authors and those in the process of creating their work. Could you share a little bit about your story-making process. What does that look like for you? Are you a plotter, a pantser or a plantser?
Olivia: Yeah, I am definitely a pantser. Which is interesting because I’ve done lots of research and I’ve read all the books about plotting and I’ve read the popular how-to-create-a-novel using the snowflake method and all these different methods; the 3-Act structure and all that good stuff and I’ve experimented with it and written some things with it. But at the end of the day I always come back to pantsing because I think it’s wear my imagination can be the most free and also I’m very character driven. My stories are not so much focused on the plot as they are on the characters shaping the plot. For me that works really well because I know my characters really well and they really control where the story is going. Often time I was not even planning for it to go in that direction and they kind of take control of the story. That’s what I love to do: letting the characters take control of the story.
Me: That really makes sense to me. Because if you know your characters well enough then you know what they would say or do in any given situation. So if you’ve got a general outline of the situations then you can kind of just write into that. I love that too!
Olivia: Right. And I do some outlining. Like, when I say “pantsing” some people are like “oh, you have no idea where your story is going”. But I do have a basic idea or I know the ending for the most part. But I don’t do scene cards or plot out my scenes necessarily. I like to leave it a little more loose and fluid.
Me: That makes sense. I mean, I look at your book and think “Oh my gosh, I would need...to write something of this volume I would need a roadmap or something! I write for upper middle grade as well but my books are more like 35k words. Do you know how many words The Coronation is?
Olivia: People as me this all the time...it’s a really big number, that’s all I know!
Me: It’s a really big number! I do start with an outline as well but I call myself a puzzler because I have this outline but then part of that character driven plot really is, you know, sometimes there are surprises and so you’re switching things and then something else happens so it ends up being like putting a puzzle together and finding where everything is going to fit. I love character driven novels. They’re fun.
Olivia: Yeah they’re so fun.
Me: So where do you get your inspiration from? Olivia: I’d like to answer that in two ways. First of all where I got the inspiration for the Tales of Tarsurella and also just general life inspiration. But I think the first part would be: I’ve had these characters for a very long time. These stories I’m writing right now are ideas that I had when I was little. These are the stories that I wanted to write when I was little but I didn’t because I hated writing. So, I thi