Without a doubt this is one of the most exciting posts we’ve had to offer so far. Jenn Bennett is one of our favourite authors and we luckily got the chance to talk to her and ask her a few questions about her previous novels, writing style and her upcoming novel ‘Alex Approximately’.
Jenn took the YA world by storm last year with the release of her first contemporary novel ‘Night Owls’ (The Anatomical Shape of a Heart) and we both cannot wait to see what the future brings with her writing.
Jenn’s stories are always engaging and have the most incredible characters that you connect with buried deep within them. Here’s what she’s had to say:
Your previous novels have been apart of a series, what made you want to write stand alone novels?
Writing an ongoing series is a challenge. It’s hard to break down your character arcs into smaller parts for individual books while juggling the big-picture arc over the entire series—especially when you’re writing it over several years. Details have a tendency to get lost or spiral out of control. With stand alone novels, I can focus on one story, one set of characters, one moment in time. That’s very appealing!
Did the change from urban fantasy to contemporary come naturally?
Yes, actually. I think maybe because the way I write urban fantasy (which is a little different from the norm, to be honest) is the essentially the same way I write contemporary. It’s still my voice. I was talking about this on Twitter the other day.
Whatever genre I write, it’s still a Jenn Bennett book. My craft improves, but my voice remains. I have readers that read all of my books, no matter the genre, which is kind of cool. But I suppose that’s the reason why: They like my voice.
What interests you about the contemporary genre?
I think it’s less the contemporary genre in general that excites me, and more the opportunity to tell stories about relationships—between lovers, family members, etc. I’m a character-driven author. I live for detail and nuance, and exploring what makes people tick. I’m also a hopeless romantic. Not in a mushy way, really. More in quirky way. I tend to root for the underdog and the weirdo, and I like to find heroes in strange places. If you throw that all together, I can tell those stories in contemporary settings, in historical settings, in fantastical settings, or in space. It doesn’t matter to me, as long as the story has heart.
What themes do you like to explore in your writing?
Love, sexuality, loss of family/creating non-traditional familial units, hope, rebellion, female independence and survival.
Do you prefer the title ‘Night Owls’ or ‘The Anatomical Shape of a Heart’?
Honestly? God, you really DO want me to be honest, don’t you? Crap. Okay, I apologize in advance if my US publisher reads this, but I don’t think I’m saying anything they haven’t already heard from me. I greatly prefer the UK title, Night Owls, to the US title, The Anatomical Shape of a Heart. And not just because it was my original title. (Okay, a little bit. But still!) A lot of times, a publisher will rename a book for marketing purposes, and I often joke that my US publisher gave this book a John Green title. The dual-title thing has been a HUGE source of confusion for readers, and I never want to go through it again!
You have a new novel coming out next year, ‘Alex, Approximately’. What’s it about?
It’s about a girl who’s been falling for a film-geek guy she chats with anonymously online. When she moves across country to live with her single dad and gets a summer job, she ends up working with the guy—they don’t realize who each other are—and they HATE each other in real life. It’s an edgy teen update of You’ve Got Mail. A “I love you, I hate you, I love you” story. And I can’t wait for everyone to read it!
Can you give us an insight in to the main character?
The main character is Bailey, who goes by the name “Mink” online. She’s mastered the art of avoidance, and will go out of her way to avoid emotional, awkward, or confrontational situations. Her obsession is classic movies from the 1940s and 1950s: She likes old Hollywood glamour (Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn), and styles her hair and makeup to look like a classic film star.
Who are your writing inspirations?
F. Scott Fitzgerald, Anaïs Nin, Dorothy Parker, Diana Wynne Jones, Alexandre Dumas, Diana Gabaldon, Mary Shelley, Pablo Neruda, Philip Pullman.
When you’re writing, do the characters come first or the story line?
Usually the story or the hook, but it’s nothing without the characters…just an empty, meaningless shell.
For those people wanting to write, can you give them any advice for sticking to writing a novel?
If you want to write, never fear: you will. It’s something that calls to you, I think. Not something that you have to force yourself to do. At least, for me, that’s how it was. Idiot that I was, I couldn’t tear myself away from it. Once I started, it was like a sickness, and I couldn’t stop, even against my better judgement. I knew there were preferable ways to make a living—ways that wouldn’t keep me up at night, chasing mad ideas. Ways that wouldn’t make me sick with worry. Ways that wouldn’t eat away at my self-esteem when I got rejected or failed, again and again, or saw a bad review. again and again. If you can tear yourself way and do something other than writing, please do. If you can’t, and writing still calls to you, then pull up a chair, my friend. If you ever need to chat, we idiots are all here to lend an ear.
We’d like to say a massive thank you to Jenn Bennett for taking the time out to speak to us and answer our questions. As an aspiring writers, i think we will take on board her advice! Also we cannot wait for ‘Alex Approximately’ to be hitting the shelves in 2017!