Novel2Screen had the privilege of chatting over a solid cup of tea with the talented writer Jennifer Quintenz. You may have seen her work on the TV shows American Heiress and Wicked Wicked Games. She’s also the author of the award-winning YA fantasy series Daughters of Lilith (Novel2Screen review of the first book Thrall available here), which follows Braedyn, a normal girl trying to survive high school – normal until she discovers she’s a Lilitu and surviving means choosing between protecting the world she loves or accepting the demon world where she belongs.
Chris: You’ve written for TV and film. How is writing for the mediums different?
Jennifer: One way to think about it is TV is like a novel and every episode is a chapter. Think about shows like Buffy or Stranger Things. You have a story that has serialized elements, and you have time to move around and explore and dig deep into the characters or specific dilemmas they face along their journey. A feature is much more like a short story. You don’t have time to dig around. If something in the story isn’t serving two or three purposes, it has to go. Every scene has to advance the story. In a feature everything counts. You have more room to stretch in a TV show. You can see an amazing amount of character development over a TV season.
Chris: Have you considered adapting your YA fantasy series Daughters of Lilith it to the silver screen?
Jennifer: It actually started as TV pilot. I had a meeting with a producer, and they were talking about doing something like Blade but with a succubus. We talked it out, they like it, but it didn’t go anywhere. I saw the producer a year later, and the producer said, “You should write it.” I had free license with it and changed it substantially. Then I wrote the book, and then my manager sent it out to a couple of book agents in New York. It felt disheartening to be jumping into another industry where you have to get past the “gate keepers” to reach your audience. I started reading up about indie publishing. When my agent told me we hadn’t found a home for the first book, I decided to write it and publish it myself. My manger was great and gave me a lot of feedback on the story. The first book was the trickiest because I’d been writing features and teleplays for so long it was hard going back to prose. I spent six months immersing myself in the indie world and benefits of indie publishing vs. traditional publishing and the thought of being in control of my destiny and my career was intoxicating.
Chris: Daughters of Lilith is a five book series about the Lilith mythology updated for today. What drew you to the specific piece of mythology?
Jennifer: It’s funny you ask. Of all the monsters out there, the one I really couldn’t stomach was the succubus. But the more I researched the actual story of Lilith, the more interested I became. Reading Paradise Lost in college was when I learned about Lilith being the first wife of Adam. The story is instantly compelling from a feminist point of view. That I can get behind. Adam wanted a subservient partner; Lilith wasn’t cool with that and left. Therefore, Adam becomes the father of humanity and Lilith becomes the mother of demons. They have this inborn war.
Chris: Braedyn, your protagonist in Daughters of Lilith, has a desire to seek out the truth and to keep her loved ones safe, many times nearly sacrificing herself. For you what is the most important characteristic for a YA heroine?
Jennifer: For them to be willing to act and not be passive. It is good when they have a strong sense of right or wrong and the strength of will to act on their convictions – even if their convictions aren’t right. The best moments come when they make a terrible mistake for all the right reasons and suffer the consequences.
Chris: Being Novel2Screen we have one question we like to close our interviews with – what is your favorite adaptation?
Jennifer: I love the A&E version of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth. So good!!
Stay tuned for Part 2 or Novel2Screen’s interview with Jennifer Quintenz. Check out her Daughters of Lilith series here including the latest installment – Guardian!
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