Janine is a Marine, a mom, and the author of best-selling series, “War of the Seasons”.
JMW: Hello, this is Jean Marie Ward for BuzzyMag.com. With me today is writer, Marine Corps pilot, and costumer, Janine Spendlove. Welcome, Janine.
Janine K. Spendlove: Hi.
JMW: We are so glad to have you. There is something I should have added to that list, Star Wars fan. How did it feel to be asked to write a story in the official Star Wars universe?
Janine K. Spendlove: Like a dream come true because it was. When I got the email from the folks at Del Ray asking if I would be interested, I sat down right where I was. I just gotten back from a flight with my squadron and was in the stairwell, ladder well, and just got down and started crying. So it’s probably a really good thing that none of my Marines happened upon me at that moment. They probably would have wondered what their Major was doing. Yeah, it was pretty big emotional deal. I kind of felt right there, I don’t care if I’ll ever do anything else ever again, I get to write for Star Wars.
JMW: Well, you have been a fan your whole life, right?
Janine K. Spendlove: Yup.
JMW: Did the movie play a role in your decision to join the Marines?
Janine K. Spendlove: I would say not directly, in that I did not go, “Star Wars, yes, I want to join the Marine Corps.” But more that, you know… Because all I had was the original trilogy at the time, so I had Princess Leia, and she was this fantastic, you know, role model of a strong woman who is still very, very feminine, but large and in charge. So I guess it indirectly helped contribute to that.
JMW: Getting back to your work in the Star Wars universe, could you explain to our viewers what is Star Wars Battlefront and what role does your character brand and the Twilight Company play within that universe and the game?
Janine K. Spendlove: Okay. So Star Wars Battlefront is a pretty well known video game, which I will straight up say I have never played myself. My husband loves it. On his first deployment to Afghanistan he played it constantly, the original game when it came out. So he was just as excited as I was when he found out I was gonna be writing a prequel story for Battlefront. So as far as the novel itself, Battlefront: Twilight Company, which is written by Alexander Freed, it is a tie-in novel for the game. And he came up with all of these amazing characters, one of them being Brand, the bounty hunter, turned rebel. She is actually… Well, she is Disney in Lucas Film’s character, but she is Alexander’s character. He created her, and I just had the good fortune of getting to come up with her backstory. So the story I came up with, the prequel story is all about how she came to join Twilight Company and the rebellion and give up being a bounty hunter.
JMW: You have one of the best writer origin stories ever. Could you tell our viewers how you started writing?
Janine K. Spendlove: On my very first deployment, I don’t want to say, there is kind of old, tried, and true saying that, you know, being in the military is sheer boredom filled by, you know, moments of terror. And so on a deployment, things start to get very Groundhog Day. It’s been one of the things I started doing, in addition to knitting a ton of Harry Potter quiddich sweaters in my downtime is I started writing fanfic. I wrote quite a bit of fanfic, and that eventually lead to me writing other things. And other things contributed to me deciding to write my own original fiction. There was definitely a day where I was like I am going to write a novel, by golly. And that was back, I want to say, in 2009. I said I am going to write a novel, and I did. And there were some decisions that fed into that. But I got my start writing in the fanfic world.
JMW: And four novels, five novels later?
Janine K. Spendlove: Four… Well, three novels, one novela with a collection of short stories, and I am working on another novel now.
JMW: We will talk about that in a minute. How do you juggle living the science fiction life, piloting advanced military aircraft and exercising command, with writing, publishing, and your other full-time job, motherhood?
Janine K. Spendlove: It is actually something I have been texting back and forth with one of my best friends who just recently had a baby. She was like, “You know, it is simultaneously so hard, yet we make it look so effortless to everyone else.” Because, you know, we were both lamenting how we can’t even keep our dishes clean, you know, our houses clean. The fact is, you don’t. You cannot be everywhere, you cannot do everything. So I just prioritize. The fact is, I don’t fly as much as I used to. When I was a young captain, I flew all of the time.
Now, as a major who is in command of my own unit, I am so incredibly busy with the demands of my Marines, which I love doing, and it is so fulfilling to be able to do that, but I barely fly enough to maintain my minimum currency, to still safely fly the aircraft. I want to fly more, there just isn’t time for me to. In addition to, you know, spending time with my daughter, I have not made a new costume or sewn a new costume in probably three years at this point. I just don’t have time. I would rather be writing. And so, you do things. Occasionally I’ll commission a costume if there is one that I really want, or another dear friend of mine made one for me, because I just don’t have time.
JMW: So what will you be? Presumably, you will be, we are at Dragon Con, you’re gonna be wearing a costume. What will the costume be this year, whether or not you made it yourself?
Janine K. Spendlove: So this year, the big one that my friends and I are doing is we are all going as the Ghostbusters from the new Ghostbusters movie, because we just…
Janine K. Spendlove: …really, really loved it. I mean, of course, we are all fans of the old one, it was part of our childhood, but seeing a movie that just had four really bad-ass ladies busting ghosts and being heroes, and there was nothing sexualized about them, no single shot was for the male gaze. It showed them eating, it showed them just being, you know, awesome. And it was hilarious and it was funny. Patty was my absolute favorite character, she was the smartest one of the bunch. Just great, great, great movie. So that is what we are doing. And our husbands are going as Ghostbusters as well, the same kind of Ghostbusters, and just going as dudes.
JMW: They are doing gender bending, right?
Janine K. Spendlove: Yes, they are gonna be male gender ben…Ghostbusters.
JMW: Well, knowing your husband kind of bends.
Janine K. Spendlove: Yes. We tried to get him to go as Kevin.
JMW: Oh, that would have been awesome.
Janine K. Spendlove: He is actually too big to be Kevin right now. He was like, “I am not losing any muscle mass.” Because Chris Hemsworth is actually smaller than, you know, his thorough bigness for Ghostbusters.
JMW: Yeah. Oh, that would have been just awesome. What are you working on now?
Janine K. Spendlove: My current project is one that I have actually written three other times. It was real awful, I trashed it. So this is attempt number four. And if it doesn’t work, then I’m just gonna put the project away for a while. But it is a military, sci-fi retelling of Pride and Prejudice.
JMW: So, who is in the military in this one, or are they both?
Janine K. Spendlove: They both are. And the reason why I thought it was fantastic is because here you have…I tried to figure out how in a modern context or in a futuristic context could I have these kinds of societal pressures of rank and privilege in the gentry. And I thought our military still very much has that, you know, between officers and enlisted, even inside the officer ranks, you have the company grade, the field grade, the general officers. And then you also have the cultural differences between the aviators and the grunts. So in my story, they have different names, but the Lizzie Bennet character is a pilot, and the Darcy character is a grunt, an infantry officer. And they are both officers, he outranks her by one rank, but it’s still enough that he can be a snot, and you know.
JMW: Yes, that’s what they do.
Janine K. Spendlove: And there’s, of course, there’s the cultural clash between the ground side and the air side.
JMW: Absolutely. Okay, we are coming up on the end of the interview. Is there anything you would like to add?
Janine K. Spendlove: Oh gosh. Of course, I thought of several things before and now my mind is going blank. So by the time you guys see this Dragon Con we’ll probably be over. So come to Dragon Con 2017. It’s super awesome. Read all of Jean Marie’s books.
Jean Marie Ward writes fiction, nonfiction and everything in between, including art books, novels (2008 Indie Book double-finalist With Nine You Get Vanyr), and short stories such as WSFA Small Press Award finalist “Lord Bai’s Discovery” and “Personal Demons” in the award-winning anthology Hellebore and Rue. Her videos include author interviews and tutorials.