J.P. Grider, born in 1966 in Paterson, New Jersey as Julianne Pellegrino, was raised in Haledon, New Jersey, the oldest of six siblings. Her love of writing started early in her childhood when she started writing poetry in-between homework assignments. As part of a school work program as a Journalism major in high school, J.P. Grider worked as a freelance reporter for a local newspaper, writing feature stories about exceptional high school classmates. She studied Television Production and Film Writing at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey, where she graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Communications.
Two of J.P. Grider's novels have won awards in the Textnovel Writing Contest, with her recently published, Unplugged (A Portrait of a Rock Star) reaching semi-finalist position. Though Unplugged is not her first novel written, it is the first to be published. Her second novel, Maybe
This Life, published summer 2012, was actually her first attempt at writing a novel. After completing the whole manuscript, Grider decided to scrap the whole thing and rewrite Maybe This Life from scratch. In Grider's opinion, the difference between the two are night and day.
In your current novel, A Touch of Honor, you describe the main character, Honor, a seventeen-year-old teenager, as being an “empath.” Please explain what this means?
JPG: An empath is someone who can feel other people’s pain and emotion. It is a real thing; I’ve looked it up. But in my story, empaths can also heal people from their physical and emotional pain. To my knowledge, that is NOT a real ability, but it would be nice if there were people out there who could.
Do you believe that there are people in this world who can feel other people’s pain?
JPG: I do, because I am one of them. I’ve always been very attuned to people’s emotions, and before my husband was diagnosed with bladder cancer, I had all the symptoms that he should have had but didn’t. When test after test came back negative for me, my husband finally had a symptom which sent him to the doctor. That’s when he was diagnosed and my pain suddenly disappeared. It was surreal. Since then there have been other smaller instances where I had pain and I’d come to find out that a friend was suffering from something in the exact same area I had the pain. Then mine miraculously just went away. That has happened several times. Once, for no reason at all, I passed out in a restaurant. They took me to the hospital, found nothing wrong, only to find out that my sister was brought in the hospital that same night with heart problems. When I looked up the word empath, I found that others experience the same phenomenon.
What has the response been to your book?
JPG: So far everyone who I know who has read it has told me it was excellent and they’ve never read anything like it before. The students and teachers at my daughter’s middle school are loving it and it’s been a big hit there. But, so far, word is not spreading very fast, so my sales aren’t moving as quickly as my adult romances. I think I need to find a different following; that road may take some time.
Will there be a part two to A Touch of Honor?
JPG: Yes, and a part three; it’s a trilogy. The first part is written from Honor’s point of view, the second from Storm’s and the third from Ethan’s. It’s a continuing story, though, NOT the same story from different points of view. It’s a story about what happens with these kids and the elixir and what Honor finally decides to do about being an empath and saving her own life (if she chooses to save her own life).
Describe yourself as a writer.
JPG: I write the stories as if I’m the heroine. These stories are my daydreams. I don’t plan what I write. A story pops in my head, I start writing and then the characters finish it for me. Every time I’ve tried to plan my story, one of the characters would say, “No, no, no, that’s not what I want to do.” So then I listen to the character. For Honor, Storm ended up telling me which way the story was going. It was so cool. I wish I could meet him in real life. Lol.
Are there any writer(s) who have influenced your writing style?
JPG: I think every book I read influences me in some way. There is not just one. That’s why I am always reading. The more I read, the more my writing evolves. If an author tells a good love story, they’ve influenced me.
How long have you been writing?
JPG: I’ve only been writing fiction for about four years now. Before that, I had written press releases, feature stories, newsletters for different companies I’d worked for. It wasn’t until I stopped changing diapers (my kids’, not my own) that I had time to write these stories that kept popping up in my daydreams.
What are you reading right now?
JPG: Right now I am reading the Touch series by Laurie Stolarz. It’s great. It’s about two kids who can tell the immediate future by touching. I’m really enjoying it.