Name: Jennifer K. Oliver
Country: United Kingdom
Places Travelled & Places lived: I’ve lived in the UK all my life, but I was lucky enough to spend three months in southern India in 2000—one of the most fascinating, exciting, and inspirational experiences I’ve had so far.
Loves: Storytelling, the 19th century, British comedy, notebooks & mechanical pencils, shoes, belly dancing, the iPhone.
Occupation: Speculative fiction writer and freelance web designer.
Quote: “We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” — Ray Bradbury
What would one find in the pages of your Paperblanks journal?
Strange, fantastical tall tales and twisted yarns. My notebooks are jam-packed with short stories, parts of novels, snippets and drabbles, random ideas and lines that won’t leave me alone. I’ll often mine a notebook and look for bits to recycle into newer stories. I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t jot it all down!
Do you have any personal philosophies you’ve come to develop about writing, art, creation or culture?
If you love something, chase it, even if people tell you it’s not valid or you might not be good at it. The only way you’ll ever know is to give it a try.
Do you have any specific themes that you continually refer back to in your work?
I often write about how technology influences people and can shape the world around us, how much power it can have and lend us, and how it’s not always such a good thing. I occasionally write near-future sci-fi—a future I could see happening if certain events align—and more often than not it deals with some form of technological innovation that leads to trouble.
At the moment I’m working on a steampunk novel set in 1865. The story features the discovery of a unique power source that enables the Victorians to accelerate their technological understanding. With the resulting new-fangled machinery doing a lot of manual labour in place of the working class, tensions are rising. It creates an interesting backdrop for my main characters, who are trying to deal with their own issues and find their places in a rapidly changing world.
No matter what type of creative art you make, what or who first inspired you to make it an essential part of your life?
It was possibly doing well in my English exams at school, followed by one particular teacher who encouraged me to write, write, write! I used to give her these terrible horror stories, and she would always find something positive to say about them (I cringe at the thought of sharing them now; they were truly dreadful). She fanned the fire at a crucial point in my life, and I’ll always be grateful to her.
How did you find Paperblanks?
My writer friend was using the utterly gorgeous “Soul & Tears” journal when we first met. It was pretty much notebook love at first sight. I asked her who made the book, and she said Paperblanks. When I got home that day, the first thing I did was look up Paperblanks online. And to be a little clichéd, the rest was history.
What sets Paperblanks apart from other journals you’ve used?
The love that clearly goes into each design. Not just physically, but the ideas behind them, too, from the amazing cover art to the choice of sizes and shapes (they so conveniently fit into all my handbags).
Do you have any advice for other creative people?
In a similar vein to my personal philosophy, the most important thing I’ve learned over the years is to keep doing what you love, against all adversity. Making a career of it might not always work, but that doesn’t mean you should stop doing it for fun. The more you do something, the better at it you become, so just keep moving, keep pushing forwards, and most of all, enjoy yourself.
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