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Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight: Jennifer Steil

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world?
Writing is how I discover my own thoughts as well as how I explore other worlds and points of view. I often have no idea what is dwelling in the recesses of my mind until I sit down to write. I move to a new country every few years, and writing is how I investigate and process my new surroundings, how I discover stories begging to be told.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block?
Deadlines! My many years working as a journalist taught me to write no matter what else is going on around me or in my brain. When I had to turn in a story or five every day or lose my job, I wrote the stories. Writing wasn’t optional. It was terrific training for fiction writing. Also, I free myself to write rubbish. My first drafts are sprawling, formless things – all the art happens in the rewrites. Knowing this keeps the pressure off when I am working.

What is your favorite time to write?
At 5 am, when the world is still dark and sleeping. With a lot of very strong coffee. I have a 10-year-old daughter and am currently alone with her having just been evacuated from our home in Uzbekistan, so I need to have time to write when I won’t be interrupted.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers?
Stop talking about what you want to write and write it. A friend said this to me over drinks in 1992 when I was dreaming aloud and it stays with me.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age?
I love finding community with writers from around the globe. I’ve recently joined forces online with a group of authors who are also releasing novels during this pandemic, and we all work very hard to support each other and promote each other’s work. This gives me hope and reminds me I am not alone.

Jennifer Steil’s Exile Music is out now with Viking.