Author Interview: Jennifer Rush (writing as J.V. Kade)

I’m so excited to host this exclusive interview with Jennifer Rush writing as J. V. Kade, author of the action-packed middle grade novel, Bot Wars! You can read my full review of Bot Wars HERE. Jennifer Rush lives in a little town on the shoreline of Lake Michigan with her husband and two children. She spends most of her free time eating ice cream and reading books. Bot Wars is her first middle grade novel.

Bot Wars Synopsis from Goodreads: “Twelve-year-old Trout St. Kroix has been searching for his missing father for the last two years, after his dad disappeared while fighting in the Bot Wars. The Bot Wars began after robots became so advanced that they revolted and demanded more workers’ rights, causing the government to declare all robots terrorists and ban them from the Districts. Trout never questioned anything the government told him–even when his own nanny bot was banished–until a vid he posts about his missing dad goes viral and new information pops up. At first Trout is wrenched his dad might be alive, but when his brother disappears, Trout learns nothing is what it seems . . . not even his own father.”

The world that Bot Wars takes place in is very different from the world we know. Yet the characters, like the main character Trout, are relatable to today’s reader. Why did you feel it was important to keep the characters so fundamentally similar to today’s reader, yet make the dynamic of the future world so different from what we know today?

JR: I wanted readers to feel like the characters could be them! Or someone they know. To make it easier to see themselves in the story. As a kid, that’s why I read. I wanted to put myself in the shoes of the main character. The princess gets the prince, and all that! But with Bot Wars, I wanted the world around them to, at times, feel like magic. That’s what the future is to me—magic. There are so many things still yet to discover. Inventions still yet to be invented. I just wanted to have fun coming up with a world that could potentially come true, yet still feel like an adventure!

Where did the inspiration for Bot Wars come from? How did you balance between present and future when writing?

JR: Bot Wars started with Trout. His voice came to me fully formed. The first paragraph of Bot Wars is what I first wrote, and for the most part, it’s exactly the same as it was when I wrote it. I think maybe one sentence was added. The story really started with Trout and his older brother Po who lost his leg in the Robot Wars. Usually all my stories start with the characters. They are the most important part for me.

 You use analogies between the Bot War and the Civil War. Why did you feel that part of our history should be included in your fictional future? And what is the message that holds within Bot Wars?

 JR: I tried to insert a few things readers might recognize, like the Civil War, to keep the story relatable. But, more than that, the Civil War, like the Robot War, was a war about freedom. I don’t want to get too much further into the parallels, for fear of spoilers! I will say this: Trout begins the story with the belief that robots are bad. But are they? Did they really start the Robot Wars?

 You’re first books were both published within months of each other; Altered (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, January 2013) and Bot Wars (Dial, March, 2013), one young adult fiction and one middle grade fiction. What’s is like writing two distinctly different books regarding reader maturity level?

 JR: I know some people outside of the industry believe that a writer has to “dumb down” their work when they write for children. But that couldn’t be further from the truth! Kids are smart! Really, the only difference between YA and MG that I’ve found is that you just have to have a little more fun with MG. Insert a little humor! Kids love to laugh. As they should! I also tried to make the themes of Bot Wars revolve more around family. When you’re that age, your family is more important than almost anything else in the world. You haven’t gone out on your own yet. You don’t have the budding independence of a teenager, or the total freedom of a college student. It starts with family.

I’m always curious what other families are reading. What are your kids’ all-time favorite books? What are they currently reading?

 JR: My son, who is nearly fourteen, loves the Dragonbreath series, and the Wolves of the Beyond series, but he also devours manga. My daughter, who is four, loves the funny picture books. Like No, David, and Dragons Love Tacos.

 What books did you most enjoy reading as a child?

JR: I loved ALL vampire fiction. Like Christopher Pike’s The Last Vampire series. And L. J. Smith’s Vampire Diaries. I devoured almost all of Christopher Pike’s work, though. But more than that, I really gravitated toward strong female characters.

 I understand you’re not only a writer, but quite the photographer and have your own photography company. How did you get into photography?

JR: I upgraded my camera because I wanted to take better pictures of my kids. I’d always been into photography, but never took the time to learn about it. When I got my new camera, I figured I better teach myself how to use it properly, otherwise the investment would be for nothing. So I did. I taught myself how to use my camera in manual mode, which is the only way to use it, in my opinion! You get the most out of it that way. From there, I just fell in love. It was like the world opened up around me. Pictures are powerful.

 Do you have a picture or two you’d like to share with us?  Where and when did you take them?


JR: The first one is of my daughter! She’s my muse. And I’m not saying this because she’s my daughter (I hope?) but the girl is photogenic. She can’t take a bad picture. It makes my job easy. This picture was taken in a tiny field off a busy street. It says so much about her. About how adventurous she is! But how bright of a personality she is, like the red of her coat against the subtle yellow/brown of the field grass.

JR: The second picture I took in Arlington Cemetery. We took a family vacation to Washington D. C. last September. The kids were with my mother-in-law at the time, so it was just my husband and I. We were on our way home when we were driving past the cemetery and I said, “Can we stop please? I don’t want to leave DC without seeing Arlington Cemetery!” So we pulled off the freeway and went in, but it was late. They were closing soon. The sun was setting! I knew I wanted the sunlight in the background. So, as soon as I entered the cemetery, I ran. I ran and ran and ran all the way back to the farthest part of the cemetery, trying to catch the light. And I did. For a short few minutes, the light blazed over the treetops and the gravestones and it was perfect.

Publishing two books in less than three months is quite an accomplishment for a first time author. What advice do you have for budding writers?

JR: Write. Read. Read some more! Know the industry before you start submitting. Knowing where to submit, and who to submit to is half the battle. And did I say read? :) Reading is one of the most important things for a writer. Read your favorite authors and take notes.

To wrap things up, I thought it might be fun to share a few tibits about yourself with your readers….

Five things you didn’t know about Jennifer Rush:

1. Can’t live without: A comfy sweater

2. Favorite place to read is: in my big comfy chair!

3. Most influential person/people: I’m picking two. Cheater! Hatshepsut and Cleopatra

4. Favorite word: Champion

5. Hidden talent: I can fold fitted bed sheets like nobody’s business

A BIG THANKS to Jenn for taking time for this interview! Bot Wars is on shelves today. For more info, you can visit Jennifer Rush on her website, as J.V. Kade, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


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