1. Who are you, and what do you write?
I’m Jennifer Oberth - cat lover, vegan, anglophile and TV Western buff. I live in Chicago and I write mysteries. Humorous mysteries. I’ve written a series of western novels set 50 miles outside of Chicago (or, as I like to call them, mid-westerns). I’ll start publishing those in 2012. The first, Masked Rider: Origins, came out of my very first NaNoWriMo. (I won!) For this November, I’m writing the 8th installment. They’re humor/mystery/adventure/mid-westerns. (How’s that for categorization?)
I also write the Ella Westin Mysteries. Married To Murder, Honeymoon Homicide and the soon-to-be-published, Toxic Train. They’re also humor/mystery but they’re short stories and set in 1827 – about 40+ years before the first Masked Rider book. The cool thing about this series is how it relates to the novels. (Ella & Joe Westin are the grandparents of the main characters of the Masked Rider.)
I have a brand new series, the Georgia H. Mysteries coming soon and they’re also short story mysteries and have a different kind of quick/harsh humor. Georgia and Virginia are two mismatched women who go around solving crime. It’s set in contemporary times and has no Westins in them.
2. What hardware are you using?
Pens. Lots and lots of mostly blue pens. I write all my first drafts by hand. During NaNoWriMo, I use a red pen to count up my words. (Yes, I’m crazy. I write by hand and then count each word up to the 50,000 challenge.)
I also have a Dell laptop PPO5L which I use almost exclusively for my writing. (I have been known to play Sims on it – Sims 3 by Electronic Arts and there are lots and lots of Westins in it!)
My desktop computer is an amalgamation of different products. I’ve got an xpc, an HP and a Kodak printer and I absolutely adore my FreeAgent Seagate 1TB portable storage unit. My computer has become my backup while this thing just won’t fill up!
I’ve also got the Tardis USB HUB which is fun.
Oh, and during writing time – sans computer and computer equipment - I use my handy dandy RCA CD player so I can listen to movie and TV soundtracks while I write. (No lyrics for me.) And I couldn’t possibly do NaNoWriMo (or write in the winter) without my personal space heater, a Holmes Tower Heater with automatic shut off. Chicago winter? I’d be ridiculous to write without it.
3. And what software?
I use Microsoft Office 2003. I’m not a fan of the updates – why do they change everything around and hide the buttons I’m so used to using? I’ll stick with 2003 until I’m forced – kicking and screaming – to update.
4. What would be your dream setup?
A computer and software that WORKS. I’m serious - I have problems with computers wherever I go; from my first job to my personal life just trying to check e-mail.
I’d love to get one of those standing desks or treadmill desks because I can’t sit as long as writing/editing/formatting takes. (I get up constantly just to wander around.)
My office would be a study, like something you’d imagine out of Sherlock Holmes; dark furnishings with plenty of light and lots of pictures on the walls. One wall would be lined with books and have a little spiral staircase that leads to another level of nothing but books neatly stacked on deeply stained wooden shelves that wrap around the room. (The library at Barat College was like this.) And a big ol’ fireplace would take up another wall, of course.
I’d also have a huge desk that held no computer equipment so I could spread my notes, papers, files and everything book-related over the top and see everything at once.
And a superfast computer that worked without issue. Did I mention that?
This is a special version of a popular feature in which I invite writers and fellow NaNoWriMo participants to share what technology they use to get their jobs done. These interviews are unedited. Photos are property of interviewees.
All the interviews can be found here.