Jennifer Ricks is the author of two stories in the anthology: Christmas Stash and The Two Hundred Forty-fourth Ornament.
LDSP: Hi, Jennifer. Welcome to your obligatory interview here at the Checkin' It Twice site. Just so you know, I tried to bribe your husband Brian to give up some of your most embarrassing secrets but he was true and faithful to you. Wouldn't tell me a thing. So you'll have to give me the lowdown. Got any fascinating facts about your roots?
Jennifer: I grew up in Clayton, California, a paradoxical small residential city crammed in the east end of the plethora of San Francisco suburbs. Clayton now has fame as the inspiration for the setting of Brandon Mull’s Candy Shop Wars (I actually attended Mt. Diablo Elementary School, just like Mull and his characters), and the Mount Diablo in Rick Riordan’s The Lost Hero is a mile away from my childhood home.
LDSP: Wow! That's almost as cool as saying you grew up in Forks, Washington! Do any cool stuff now that you're an adult?
Jennifer: I am in the thick of raising two young children (my son is almost three and my daughter is almost one). My biggest dream had always been to be a novelist, but since my son was born my most important goal became being a good mom. But writing is still a close second. I am going to finish writing my novels someday, but at the moment I am sure that completing the potty training badge for my motherhood course is more important.
LDSP: Been there, done that. And I totally agree with you. Do you have any time for hobbies while potty training the kidlets?
The Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne, was a wonderful success (and is available for sale), and we have many more plans for other books, when the children give us time to work on them! You can check out The Red House Mystery and other titles (as we finish them) at familyclassicseditions.blogspot.com.
LDSP: What a wonderful project! I'll have to check it out. As busy as you are, why did you decide to enter the LDS Publisher story contest?
Jennifer: The Two Hundred Forty-Fourth Ornament was inspired by two of my best friends who were first-year teachers when I wrote it. Teachers as unsung heroes was on my mind, so Kayley’s story emerged from that. As for the inspiration of my other story, Christmas Stash, I am the third of eight children in my family. All throughout my growing-up years, my mom would tell us over and over again that although we squabbled daily, our siblings were destined to become our best friends as adults. We always rolled our eyes at this. But as with everything else, of course Mom was right. My siblings really are my best friends, especially the ones I used to argue with the most. Developing these adult friendships has been, and continues to be, a learning process, and Angie’s experience with it in Christmas Stash reflects some of my own feelings about this part of growing up (which I am still working on!).
LDSP: Do you have any other published stories or books?
Jennifer: I have a story in Sing We Now of Christmas: An Advent Anthology, another Christmas story anthology released this year (http://adventanthology.wordpress.com/). My work has also been published in all four magazines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (you can search for my name at lds.org/magazine).
LDSP: Several of our authors also have stories in Sing We Now of Christmas. That's wonderful. As a mother of small children, you must dread the moment the discover the truth about Santa. How did you discover it?
Jennifer: What do you mean? I still believe! ☺
LDSP: Oops! Never mimd. What is your favorite Santa memory from your childhood?
Jennifer: On Christmas Eve my sisters and I would try to stay awake to “catch” Santa Claus. The tradition also turned into a competition of sneaking into the family room to open our stockings before our brothers. When we were really little, we were sure that our parents put sleeping pills in our dinners because we could never stay awake until Santa came! When my older sister got too old to believe in Santa Claus, she would fall asleep during her “shift” of keeping awake on purpose so we wouldn’t find out the truth. She also told some wonderful lies about finding a lost leather glove on the fireplace one year and hearing sleigh bells. She loved knowing something that the rest of us didn’t, and memories of all these Santa exploits still make me laugh.
LDSP: What was the best book you’ve read this year?
Jennifer: This year I discovered Robin McKinley (I had never heard of her books before—was I living in a cave, or what?). My favorites are Pegasus (I’m going to die of anxiety until she finishes the trilogy!), Chalice (amazing!), The Blue Sword, Rose Daughter, and Beauty.
LDSP: I've read several of her books, but not all of the ones you've mentioned. What new books are you looking forward to reading?
Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George (I love all her books!), Son by Lois Lowry (the fourth book in The Giver series—wow!), The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan (I’ve heard that I’ll be just as anxious for the next one, too), and I just finished Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale (wonderful!).
LDSP: Those sound great. And I'm reading Palace of Stone right now. So far, I like it. So what do you—
LDSP: Uh-oh! I guess I better let you go. Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful Christmas!