Author Spotlight: Jennifer NelsonFeb 09, 2023 10:21AM ● By Verlene Johnson
Jennifer Nelson’s first attempt at writing was in sixth grade, which she never finished. Because it turned into a rather embarrassing situation for her, she said she quit writing entirely for a long time.
After her first child was born, Nelson made another serious attempt at writing when she became a stay-at-home mom after her oldest son was born. By the time she was in her mid-20s, she had completed her first manuscript, but she felt it was terrible. “So was the other after that,” she said, “but gradually, I was learning how to write.”
Nelson published her first novel in 2010, “Elliot and the Goblin War.” Since then, she has written 20 books, with her 21st book being released on March 7, titled “Iceberg.”
Writing for young readers, generally fourth to eighth graders, Nelson is best known for her series, “The False Prince” and “A Night Divided.”
“I believe that every one of us has something within us to create, whether it’s visual art, home decoration, a business model, music, a recipe, or in my case, it’s stories,” said Nelson. “The trick is for each of us to identify that for ourselves and then to dive into learning how to create in the best way that we can. However, in a larger sense, I also respect the power of words. I recognize that stories impact the way people think, even who they can become.”
As a child, Nelson was greatly influenced by the character Meg in “Wrinkle in Time.” “I wanted to be braver because she was brave. I wanted to be strong-willed because she was too.” Nelson commented that to be able to create stories for young readers now is a great privilege. “I try to write the kinds of books that would have meant the most to me when I was their age.”
After graduating from high school, Nelson attended Weber State University, where she graduated with a degree in Communication, Theater Education and a minor in history. She then taught high school for a few years before becoming a mom. Nelson has three children and two “in-law kids.” She moved to Morgan 11 years ago and feels that her children have benefited greatly from living in Morgan.
In her spare time, she loves hanging out with her family, being in the mountains and reading and collecting old books.
“Breaking into publishing can be very difficult and is almost always filled with times of rejection and frustration,” said Nelson. “I went through hundreds of rejections over four full manuscripts. It wasn’t at all fun, but I had a rule: every time I failed, I’d find a way to write better and then try again. Slowly, I began to improve. I also learned a key rule of succeeding at any big goal was to stay in the game. If you keep trying, keep finding ways to improve, whatever barrier is in your way will eventually crumble, and you’ll still be there. My advice to aspiring writers is to never give up. Do that, and one day you will get your yes.”