[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Kelly! Can you please describe yourself in 140 characters or less.
[Kelly Jensen] I’m an avid reader, writer and gamer.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Less Than Perfect?
[Kelly Jensen] Briefly: It’s a love story set against a back drop of apocalypse and creepy aliens. Less briefly: Mikayla and Reg would like to find a safe place to see out the end of the world. On a trip to restock their supplies, they are captured by aliens and prepared for the procedure that will make them ‘perfect’. They need to work together in order to escape.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
[Kelly Jensen] I read a lot of post-apocalyptic fiction and I often wonder how I could cope with aliens and/or the end of our world. I also wanted to write about a woman who feels really ordinary, but discovers she can do extraordinary things. I love the idea that anyone can be a hero.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Mikayla?
[Kelly Jensen] Geeky, sweet and determined.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Reg had a theme song, what would it be?
[Kelly Jensen] Superman (It’s Not Easy) by Five for Fighting. This has long been one of my favourite songs and it’s easy to listen to it with Reg in mind. He’s a veteran and there’s a part of him that doesn’t want to be a hero. He just wants to be an ordinary man.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Mikayla is never without.
[Kelly Jensen] Her journal. Mikayla needs to feel organised and her journal helps her keep her thoughts in order.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Reg’s bedroom?
[Kelly Jensen] Books, fussy linens or snacks (he doesn’t like crumbs in the bed).
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Mikayla’s greatest regret?
[Kelly Jensen] Oh, she has so many. Mickey is young (compared to me) and hasn’t yet learned that some things just are. That no amount of regret will change what happened. I think at the beginning of the story she regrets the loss of her career. She hasn’t long been out of college (2 years) and is eager to build something. She’ll get her chance, she just has to kick alien butt first.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?
[Kelly Jensen] Books, definitely. I read a lot and most of what I read is speculative in some sense. Science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction. I also love love stories. Love has a place in any story, if you ask me. I am also often inspired by music and sometimes just by being out and about. I’ll find myself in a situation and think ‘what if?’.
More recently, role-playing online (play by post) has been a great influence on my writing. Role-playing is about building a consistent character and then exposing them to situations that allow them to grow. It’s an addictive hobby.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?
[Kelly Jensen] Tea, mixed nuts and absolute silence.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was your biggest distraction while working on Less Than Perfect?
[Kelly Jensen] My own fears. This is my first published book. I learned so much from this experience, including the conviction I could DO this, that I could take my story idea and turn it into a book other people would enjoy reading.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?
[Kelly Jensen] Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie. Wow, what a book. It’s dark fantasy and has a really simple plot: Monzcarro Murcatto swears vengeance against the seven men who killed her brother and left her for dead. What really blew me away were the characters. They were so well written. Really different people with conflicting goals. I found it difficult to pick up another book for days afterward. I wanted to return to Abercrombie’s world.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?
[Kelly Jensen] Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. It’s an odd choice, right? I wasn’t much of a reader until I picked this up at age twelve. We were on vacation in Michigan, a cottage on the side of the lake, and I thought it was the most boring holiday EVER. (Now I think it sounds lovely. The difference thirty years makes!) I found Brave New World on the bookshelf and read it. I thought it was the most amazing book I had ever read and as soon as we returned home I went to the library to look for other really weird and interesting books. So began my love affair with science fiction and reading in general.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Kelly Jensen] I have too many hobbies, which means I am never bored. I can quite happily sit and day dream for an hour if I have nothing else to do, though. I love computer games. I always have a game going. Currently, it’s Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. I like to draw. I find colouring (with coloured pencils, I use Prismacolors) very relaxing. Hours can pass while I colour one of my sketches. I also enjoy puttering about in my garden. In the evenings, I abuse my Netflix account. I think over the last ten years I have watched over 1000 movies.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
[Kelly Jensen] I have a blog, A Step to the Side, where I post reviews of the books I’m reading and rambles about, well, just about everything. Writing, gaming, gardening. I have a website where I post news about my fiction. I am also on Facebook and Twitter. I love to talk about books and writing.
Thanks for the interview, I enjoyed chatting about Less Than Perfect!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!
Less Than Perfect by Kelly Jensen
Release Date: 10/28/13
Genre: Sci-fi Romance
Mikayla thinks she’s prepared for the day aliens land on Earth. She’s not.
Mikayla and Reg are on the run from aliens who call themselves The People. The depopulated United States is not a safe place. Cities not held by The People are rife with gangs, the detritus of civilization, and disease. Mikayla, Reg, and their companions would like to find a farm to wait out the end of the world, perhaps start again. But on a mission to restock their supplies, Mikayla and Reg are captured by The People and prepared for the procedure that will make them perfect…and no longer human. It will take all their strength and trust to not only fight for their freedom, but to strike back.
Lips twisting, I studied Reg’s face for the space of a breath. He had irregularly regular features.
Masculine, all angles and planes, a slightly crooked nose, mouth touch too narrow, ears on the large side. His dark-brown hair flopped across his forehead in an endearing manner and he had dark lashes and a square jaw lined with three or four days’ growth. A handsome man, by all accounts, by the sum of his parts. Not like them, who were regularly regular, all pleasing in their perfection and not quite real.
“Did you think about taking their deal?” I asked.
Reg began to shake his head, then paused. “I guess I did, for a second.”
His honesty plucked at something in my chest. I liked that he was able to admit a fault. It made him real.
His blue gaze swept over my face. It didn’t feel as if he lingered on my freckles, or tried to count them.
“What about you?” he asked.
Heat crept across my cheeks, partly at his scrutiny, mostly because I didn’t know if I could be as honest.
The People offered perfection. Anyone who joined them could be rebuilt from their toes to their hair follicles. They had a cure for baldness, and tinea. There was a price for those perfect bodies, though, something out of a macabre gothic horror novel. Perfection cost no more and no less than a soul. No one noticed the difference at first. I think they were happy.
I had considered accepting the bargain; most of us did, even if only for a minute. When I thought of those skirts that should stop above my knee, the blouses with boatnecks that bared a hint of cleavage, legs long enough to look sexy in heels, I thought about trading up. Taking a job with The People, giving them myself for perfection.
Lifting my shoulders in a small, not quite careless shrug, I offered an affirmative sound and looked away. Don’t know why I felt so embarrassed; shame had little place after the collapse of civilization.
Here we were, unwashed, tired, and hungry, walking from A to B with nothing but four backpacks and a box of books.
An arm brushed mine in a less-than-gentle nudge and I looked up.
“Smile for me, Mickey.”
A wobbly smile tried to overtake my lips. I fought against it, then gave in.
Reg’s lips curved in return. “That’s better,” he said. “Your face is made for smiling.”
Not sure when he decided that, but I liked the idea that he’d been studying my face as intently as I had his. My smile widened. So did his.
About the Author:
If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories of the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.
Kelly Jensen lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and daughter. When she’s not busy being a mom, Kelly spends her time volunteering at the local library, playing video games, and studying Kiryoku, a martial art combining Shotokan, Aikido and Tang Soo Do.
Less Than Perfect is her first book.
A box of books- Titles included are: Gravity by Melissa West (Entangled), Chosen Ones by Tiffany Truitt (Entangled), Alas Babylon by Pat Frank, & A Wrinkle in the Skin by John Christopher