The Breeding Tree by J. Andersen - Author Interview and Giveaway

Is the opportunity to create the next 

generation of life a dream come true 

or a deadly nightmare?



When seventeen year old Katherine Dennard is selected to become a "Creation Specialist" in Sector 4, the opportunity sounds like a dream come true. But Kate soon discovers the darker side of her profession - the disposal of fetal organs and destruction of human life. It makes sense, really. In a society where disease and malformations don t exist, human perfection demands that no genetic "mutants" be allowed to live. For Sector 4, "survival of the fittest" is not just a theory - it's The Institute's main mission. 

When Kate discovers that The Institute is using her DNA to create new life, her work gets personal. In order to save her unviable son, she'll have to trust Micah and his band of underground Natural Born Rebels. The problem is, if The Institute discovers her betrayal, the next body being disposed of could be hers.

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Interview with the author of The Breeding Tree, J. Anderson

Why did you become a writer…was it a dream of yours since you were younger or did the desire to write happen later in your life? 

I have to say “BOTH” to this. Just before my first book was published, my mom showed up at my house with one of those “what I want to be when I grow up” packets from elementary school. It was from 3rd grade. In it, I said I wanted to be famous for writing a book. I have no memory of this. When I was at camp at age 12, I remember saying I wanted to write a book by the time I was 25. But that always seemed like a pipe dream. It wasn’t until I taught middle school and was reading what the students were reading that I really became serious about writing a book. I would write during the summers and on my days off. I was older than 25, but I did get that first book out. Then came a new publisher and a new contract. Now I’m working on book 2 in THE BREEDING TREE series. It’s been contracted, and we’re in edits right now.

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination? What was the most interesting research you had to do for your books?  

Honestly, I try to do as little research as possible, but there were a few things I researched: For both my first book, AT WHAT COST—A YA contemporary, and THE BREEDING TREE, fetal development was important, so I made sure to get the details right on that. I did some research on underground cities. That was kind of cool. But the best research was when I was trying to describe shooting a gun, but I’d never shot one. My brother took me to get the feel of it. That was pretty fun.

How do you go from an idea for a book to the birth of the story?  Is the process the same for every book you write?  How long does it take you to write a book?  

I like to think the process is the same for me, but the more I write, the more I realize each book is a little different. Sometimes I get the whole story plopped into my head at once and I just have to sort out the details. I use a triangular plot chart to give myself a one page glance at the whole story. This happened with THE BREEDING TREE. The second and third books in that series (Yes, they’re both written) needed a little more brainstorming. I did this with some friends. Just shot around ideas. Then I used the same triangular plot chart. The new story I’m working on—I’d tell you the title, but it’s changed 3 times already—has been a bugger to plan! I like to plan. I need to see where I’m going so I can figure out how to get there. But I couldn’t figure it out for this one, so I just started writing. Then I brainstormed with someone and the story took a new turn, which meant I had to toss a lot of what I had. I tried a new kind of chart to plan, which helped to get me on the right track, but still wasn’t the best. So I’ve been fleshing out this story a little at a time, then going back and planning more.

It takes me 8 months to a year to write a book, but this one that hasn’t let me plan has been a year already and it’s not done.

Are you currently working on any new book projects? 

Always. My goal is to get ahead of the publishers, or rather, stay ahead of the publishers. While I was agent searching and subsequently, when he was publisher searching, I kept writing. I have 3 unpublished stories so far.

What’s your writing schedule like?  When do you find time to write? 

This is always a tough one because I’m a stay at home mom, so finding time is like swimming through peanut butter—It might be possible, but it’s going to be hard to do. I recently discovered that writing sprints work really well for me. I can get more done in a 1 hour sprint than I can all the rest of the week. So now, I take my kiddo to a sitter once a week and head to a coffee shop to write. Then, if I don’t get any writing done any other time, I don’t worry about it b/c at least I had that sprint. I’m hoping things will open up a bit when the little one goes to Preschool in the fall.

How did you find your publisher?  What was your journey to publication like?

I queried agents … lots of them until one took me on. I knew from the start I wanted to go the traditional publishing route and even when people told me I could self-publish my stories, I refused, knowing that wasn’t for me. For some writers, it’s perfect. For me, it wasn’t. Once I had my agent, he sold my book to a small pub within 6 months and it was published in less than a year. From there we have moved to a larger publisher with this next book. As much as I would love to be one of those break out authors who hit the NYT best seller list with the first book, that’s not my story. (Pun intended.) Some of us have a different path.

How have your friends and family received your career as an author?  Are they supportive? 

My friends and family are my biggest cheerleaders, though, at the same time, I think they think it’s weird. Lol. For instance, my hub is very supportive and glad that I have an outlet for myself, especially being a stay at home mom, but I also think he doesn’t quite understand my NEED to write all the time. Unless you’re a writer too, you can’t possibly understand writers. We’re a strange bunch. I have a few friends and family members who help me brainstorm/name characters/make book trailers/take photos, so everyone has been great.

What’s the most challenging aspect of writing for you? 

POV issues; using too much passive voice and not enough active voice; trouble creating active and engaging dialogue; using too many similar words in starting sentences; or something else?        

This sounds strange, but the actual WRITING. I’m a much better re-writer and editor than I am a writer. Once I have some material to work with, I’m good, but getting those first ideas on the page is a horrific experience for me. I do tend to use the same words over and over. I work hard to vary my sentence structure, so starting sentences with different words is fine, but I’ll use something like difficult five times in one page. During the writing process, I just highlight those and move on, knowing I’ll come back to them during editing.

Author Bio

There’s not much to do growing up in a small town in Western, NY, so J. Andersen wrote stories and won high school writing contests. But in college her writing was limited to term papers. While teaching middle school she began to read young adult books and got serious about writing. She now writes full time, volunteers at the town library, helps to run a School of the Arts at her church, and sings in the church band. She enjoys good coffee—read: home roasted by her husband—crafts, baking, running a small essential oil business, and chasing after her children. You’ll rarely see J. without a book in her hands, and that’s the way she’d like to keep it. 


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