Jennifer Niven and I met many years ago. I'm horrible with dates, but it's safe to say we've known each other since back in the day--when we were both young dreamers.
She's always been a writer and a voracious reader. Her perspective on life is constantly entertaining and if you don't pay close attention, you'll miss her sly skew on everything due to her sunny disposition. As far as I can tell, she has many superhero powers, which I'm not going to divulge due to my pact to keep them as super and as secret as possible. But I will give you a peek into one of them. The power of being underestimated.
Jennifer is one of the nicest, most polite people I know. She always looks lovely. She has a ready smile for a stranger just as much as she does for a friend. Early in her literary career when she started touring with her first book, THE ICE MASTER, sometimes she found herself at speaking events with other authors. The kind that seemed to be plopped into place straight from Central Casting. Tweed blazers with elbow patches, gravely voices, eyebrows that seemed to be trying to bring back macrame plant holders, and general grumpiness. Inevitably, one of them would take a look at Jennifer and ask, "What do you write? Romance novels?" She'd smile politely, knowing that they weren't really interested in knowing what she wrote, they were in it for "the dig."
The seminar would start. Jennifer would be introduced as the author of "The Ice Master" the epic true tale of the doomed 1913 voyage of the Karluk. She had more than done her research for this incredible story. Jennifer had been invited aboard an ice breaker for two weeks, in the High Russian Arctic. She was dropped by a helicopter on Wrangel Island with Bob Headland, the head of the Scott Polar Research Institute, and a Russian translator. She traveled to Bering Strait, stopping at remote Inuit villages. She had stood in front of majestic ice bergs and on top of mountains, in graveyards and in ruins. Posed for pictures with puffins, moose and llamas.
She would start to speak and her super power of underestimation would take hold. The "Romance Novelist" with her dazzling smile and ever so perfect hair, shared moving stories, her vast knowledge of arctic explorations and intimate details of that doomed voyage of 1913. The tweeds (her grumpy counterparts) had nothing left to say. She proved that you could be smart, talented and own an eyebrow tweezer.