Colorado, Canon, CJ, kids and curls.
Born and raised in a household of other people’s children in Colorado —very nearly with a camera in hand— She never left. She started her own family, got used to the curls, went to college, built a CJ, and started a business.
Storytelling has always been a passion for her, and after finishing her first novel she realized she was born a photographer and somehow that had to come into play.
Jenn lives and thrives off chaos and the constant flow of the creative process. She wears shorts and flip-flops year-round —much to the chagrin of her friends and family— and is currently working on the illustrations for her second novel.
1. How can you wear flip flops year round in Denver? Don’t you know it snows there?
Very carefully…Oh yes, it does snow here, quite a bit depending on the year. But…
2. I also grew up in Colorado, and Casa Bonita was the ultimate goal for any day-trip to Denver. Do you like the restaurant, or is it just for kids and tourists?
I think Casa Bonita is the BEST kitschy ridiculous restaurant on the planet and a must see for anyone in the neighborhood. You have to get food to get in, but be careful what you eat it is truly terrible. Also a well known fact. But seriously! High dives off a three story indoor waterfall and being chased by a giant gorilla? We don’t go often, but we do go.
3. You name several constants that define you. What do you love about Colorado?
I love the mountains, I love that the sunshines every single day. I love the sheer vastness of the plains and that the city sprawls and still feels homey. I love that Denver is such a big city but thirty minutes in any direction puts you in farm country or high country. I love that my family homesteaded here, on the Purgatoire, and that my great aunt and uncle still work the land. But mostly it’s the sunshine. I can’t live without it.
4. Who are the “other people’s children” you were raised with?
My parents opened their home to foster kids when we were younger. So I grew up with about 25 brothers and sisters who came and went at different intervals. It made for a chaotic and interesting childhood.
5. The word Canon has several meanings. What does it mean to you?
Canon was my first camera. An AE-1 that I still own and use. I ‘stole’ it from my dad on a trip to NYC when I was 11, and I never gave it back. I can shoot that camera in the dark, it is like an extension of me I know it so well. All of my digital gear now is also Canon, though I do have a few other cameras I work with in other formats including a medium format Mamiya RZ, and a Polaroid land camera that belonged to my mother.
6. Most adult novels have no illustrations except for the cover art. What is different about yours?
My novel is illustrated throughout. You could think of it like a cover on steroids. They’re everywhere. It’s been called an adult picture book, though that makes it sound a bit more randy than it is. Every image included is meant to carry the story, convey a feeling or describe a moment. The images are not overly descriptive but there are some incredibly sexy images included, because it is a romance novel.
This is Derek Hutchins. He is my Roxleigh, and has become a very dear friend of mine. You can see more of his portfolio here and of course Derek as my Gideon, throughout The Rake and the Recluse.
This is me getting Cora (who is also a photographer by trade—long story—and often works as my studio assistant on shoots, as well as me assisting her.) into her corset for another scene. We all do what we can to help. This image was taken BY Derek, as he is also a talented photographer.
7. What are photo shoots like? How do you find your models?
Photo shoots are the best kind of chaos and I live for them. I usually have a crew of about 5 people, art director, grip, makeup artist, hair, in-studio assistant— sometimes more, sometimes less depending on the shoot, and then there’s the talent. I set my studio and lights and we get busy shooting. My producer organizes the shoot so it is the most efficient, and we design the set, shoot the images and turn around and do it over and over until every image is done. There are, quite often, some hijinks involved as well, because nothing is worth doing, that isn’t fun. But what happens in studio, stays in studio… well almost. I believe my AD for this shoot Melinda Piñon, right, lost a pin in the models pants and had to retrieve it. 9Photo courtesy my in-studio assistant Cora Kemp)
I find my models on modeling sites and through agencies. I recently started working with a producer, Annette Schowers, for my bigger shoots, and she is working on casting with me for the Perry book. If you would like to follow my casting work, which, for you, really just amounts to a bunch of hot sexy male model pics on twitter follow the hashtag #castingPerry.
8. How did you become involved with the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Foundation?
A friend of mine did a story on the foundation for the Rocky Mountain News and I contacted them. I felt it was a way I could give back to people with my photography. It is an incredibly difficult thing to do, and I don’t volunteer very often because it is truly heartrending. My last session was an end of life session, where the baby had to be taken off life support, and I was a witness. The family was beautiful, strong and amazing to me in their grief. I wish I was able to help more than I do.
9. What possessed you to build a jeep?
Insanity. Final answer.
This is a composite I made in high school of my first Jeep. Her name was Freebird.
This is Frogger, before the rebuild. My husband bought her for me in 2002.
This is about halfway through the rebuild, installing the engine.
This is frogger now.
And this is what Frogger does to my legs in the summer. Because I drive with one leg hanging out the door.
10. How do kids and curls define you?
I have four daughters: 18, 15, 14, and 10. I have had children now for nearly half my life, which seems incredibly odd to me. But I don’t remember a time before them anymore. Their lives have defined who I am as a person, and the fact they are all girls has defined me further, as well as my writing.
This is my oldest, known as Crank and my second, known as Sugar. We like to go to the studio to play.
As for my unruly head of hair, it has defined me because I have always been known as that blonde with the Jeep. I have finally gotten used to having what amounts to a mane atop my head, and given up on trying to tame it. It is what it is. But don’t ask for pictures of what it looked like in the Gulf. Oh em Gee. It was ginormous.
11. I love that you put your bucket list on your blog! What would it take to check off Nathan Fillion? Would a brief encounter in the autograph line count?
Lordy, a brief encounter wouldn’t do it for me I don’t think. I want to shoot him. I mean, you know, take his picture. I just love his persona and I think he would be SO MUCH FUN in front of the camera. Seriously who doesn’t love Capt’n Tightpants?
12. What was your path to publication?
I did the usual querying and rejection, but the problem was that my rejections in general were all along the lines of; we love your voice, but we don’t know what to do with the illustrated stuff, it just isn’t done. So I decided to self publish. It’s not as easy as it might sound, I had to learn how to build an illustrated book for export to ePub. It has to be done in a specific way so the images appear in the book where they are supposed to. The images also have to be edited for the eInk so they look right. It took a lot of testing.
Recently though, like Marilyn Monroe in an Ice Cream Parlor, The Rake and the Recluse was discovered on Goodreads by a large publisher (I’m not ready to say who just yet.) They want it, and I am revising it to it’s original concept which is a six-part serial novel. I am also speaking with a wonderful agent who will hopefully want to represent me with this little project. We’ll see where it goes from there. Until then, I am happy with what I’ve done, and I’m looking forward to the next big shoot for the second book, in September.
13. Do you have a blog? How do you use it?
I actually have two blogs, one for photography and one for writing. It’s sometimes hard having a dual persona, but it is necessary. My photo blog details all of my photography related shoots and projects, including my award winning work in the Gulf of Mexico last year documenting the BP oil spill and all of the studio shoots for my first, and future novels. Those shoots do end up, to a certain degree, on my writing blog as well. Because I am split between the two, I probably don’t blog as often as others, but that makes me a good one to follow, and if you like my studio work, you’ll love my blog. My writer blog I post more ramblings, and don’t feel as pressured to include images every time I blog. I like to post little snippets and if I love a book I’ll blab about it. I won’t necessarily call it a review, there are professional reviewers for that. But if I have a strong opinion I will speak.
14. What social media do you use? Do you combine your personal and professional or keep them separate?
I use twitter for photography and writing and I keep them separate. I am myself on both of those, I don’t use any kind of persona, I just talk about different types of things there. Not every photographer wants to hear about the hot romance novel I just read, and not many romance followers are interested in the technical aspects of the new Canon 70-200L IS zoom lens. 🙂
I also use facebook. I keep my personal life personal but do have various pages, Jenn LeBlanc is my writing page, Lady Jane’s Salon is for the romance readers salon I help organize, Iris Photo Agency is my agency that I founded and run, Gulf Oil Coverage is dedicated to my work in the gulf. Feel free to find me on any of these pages. I still update the Gulf Oil pages with information from the animal rescue centers I visited while on assignment.
15. What is your favorite electronic or digital writing tool?
Can I say my MacBook Pro? Maybe I should say my iPad, because I read everything on it, look at images, play on twitter, and even write with iaWriter. Hmmm…
16. What is your favorite non-electronic writing tool?
I love Papermate markers. I am a color junkie and love to write with them. I need paper of course, but give me a set of those markers and watch out.
17. What is the most persistent distraction from writing?
Currently? Promotion. UGH. Necessary but UGH. I love to hang out on twitter and talk to everyone, but it does get in the way sometimes, I’m currently trying to find a balance.
18. What is your ideal writing environment? Have you ever been able to create it?
No. I have no idea what that looks like either. I am a bit of a chameleon, so I try to write wherever is available.
19. When the day comes that you are on stage, accepting some prestigious award, who are you most likely to forget to thank?
Everyone, I had to thank people at my book release party and I had notes, but if they weren’t right there in the crowd, I probably forgot them. I’m not sure because I have already forgotten what I did say.
20. Who shot first, Han or Greedo?
Han did. He isn’t a sit around and wait to die type of scoundrel, and he is a scoundrel of the highest order. I love Han Solo.
a brand new illustrated ebook
by Jenn LeBlanc
learn more at Illustrated Romance.com
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