Author Interview: Jennifer M. Zeiger

The Lily Cafe is thrilled to host the author of the Choose Your Own Adventure book The Adventure, Jennifer M. Zeiger!

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Jennifer M Zeiger published The Adventure in November of 2017 after successfully running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the project. Just like her work life where she’s worked in everything from rock climbing to retail to dispatch, she’s tried her hand at many types of writing including blogs, academic, short stories, and novels but her ultimate passion is for fantasy novel.

(Note: Parents of school-aged children, or, really, any parent, this book is targeted at children reading at a 5th-6th grade level, so it’s perfect for kids!)

Now, onto the interview, where Jennifer talks about The Adventure, writing Choose Your Own Adventure stories, and her self-publication journey.

Can you tell us a little about the stories in The Adventure? What was your inspiration for them?

The Adventure is a collection of three Choose Your Own Adventure style stories. In the first one, Moonrise Mountain, you’re on a mission to find out if a local legend is true, but in order to do so, you first have to reach the top of Moonrise Mountain and there are many dangers in the winter forest at its base. In the Temple of Night and Wind, you’re seeking treasure from the Howling Maw in order to buy food for your starving village. As far as you know, however, no one who’s entered the Maw has ever returned. And for the third story, The Tournament, you’ve been asked by your family to enter the King’s tournament in order to free your uncle from his prison sentence in the mines. As soon as you start the competition, though, you realize this isn’t a typical tournament and winning might be your only way to survive it.

Inspiration for these comes at random. I’ve written over 40 of them for my blog and all I can really say is I usually start with an image –A winter storm, the mouth of a cave that looks like teeth, a bow and arrow, it could be anything– and get the initial story started. It’s harder after that. Because these are multiple ending stories, I don’t typically have a full plot in mind. Once I have the initial story started, I go back and outline all my endings before continuing. 

What draws you to write Choose Your Own Adventure stories?

Long story short, I struggled to read when I was a kid. The Choose Your Own Adventure books were fascinating to me and so I muddled my way through them anyway because I really wanted to figure out all the endings. When I started my blog, I figured these sorts of stories would also engage my readers more than simply posting short stories, which I hated to write back then anyway. I’ve since gotten better at them. =)

There are so many possibilities in Choose Your Own Adventure stories. How do you keep them all straight?

Outlining. And a lot of notes on details. Even still, I find discrepancies. Fun story, in The Adventure, I was well into formatting when I realized I had a disappearing torch in one of the stories. It took some finagling to explain what happened with the torch without messing up the formatting too much.

Why did you choose to go the self-published route?

I enjoy a challenge and I wanted to see if I could do it. Plain and simple. I’m still submitting to agents for my novels and if those pan out, great, but if not, I’m having a lot of fun with the self-publishing route. I gripe, stress, cry, learn and keep going but, in the end, it’s all worth it. The process helped me focus my goal for The Adventure. I’ll expand more on that with your next question.

What do you hope readers will take away from these stories?

The Adventure is a 5-6th grade reading level and each path in the stories is actually quite short. At first this was because they started out as blog posts but I could have expanded them further than I did. I chose not to because I ultimately want this book to encourage children to read just like the older books did for me. That’s how the process helped me focus the purpose for this book. I’m working on some teaching materials now that can be used alongside the book for comprehension, spelling, cause and affect lessons and so on.

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What has the process been like for you, from writing to actually having the book in your hands?

Crazy, daunting, thrilling… um, lots of adjectives. When I started, I never imagined all the little details that would hold me up but I also never imagined how supportive people would be or how cool it’d be to see an artist put my words to picture. Writing’s obviously my passion. I’ve learned marketing is not but that’s pretty typical for an author =) After writing, I’d say the book trailer and the artwork are my next favorite parts.

Will there be future adventures?

Yes. I would love to make a series of these books. 

Lastly, is there anything else you would like to share about The Adventure, writing, self-publication, or yourself?

I have a great respect for traditional publishers, now even more than I did before self-publishing. With today’s technology, there’s no reason you can’t self-publish but if you’re going to put in that sort of work, give yourself a lot of time. Your writing deserves it and the finished product will show your effort.


Jennifer grew up in Colorado and now lives in the evergreen state of Washington. She lives with her husband, Nathan, and her kids include a shepherd/husky mix and two purring fur balls.


Be sure to follow her and check out her book!

Amazon: The Adventure

The Adventure Trailer


Facebook: Jennifer M Zeiger (Author)

Twitter: JMZeiger

Thank you so much for sharing, Jennifer! It’s been a pleasure to have you here!

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