Welcome, Jenny! First off, let me say, I loved Just Between You and Me. Before we get started, I need to tell my readers that you need to read all the way to the end. There you will find my review of Jenny’s book AND a chance for you to win the book!!!
Café: Jenny, you have a gift for writing quirky, fun stories with strong messages of faith. Thanks for stopping by the Café for a pop quiz.
JBJ: Thanks for having me! And I’m so glad you enjoyed Just Between You and Me. Otherwise. . .this visit might be a bit awkward.
Café: You’ve written several books for young adults. Why the change to Women’s Fiction?
JBJ: Not a change, but an addition. It’s funny, but one thing I learned in writing about a single 30 year old with a crazy life, is that she wasn’t THAT much different than a single 16 year old with a crazy life. Still has boy issues, still has confidence issues, both struggle with surrendering things to God. Thirty year olds just have a later curfew.
Café: Will you continue to write in both genres? (I know your teen fans are hoping the answer to this is YES.)
JBJ: Yes, I intend to. I hope so. Totally up to God. Both genres have something a little different to offer me as a writer, so it’s fun to switch hats. Keeps me on my toes. And when I’m writing YA, I’m usually stumped for a plot, yet a women’s fiction is growing in my head. And definitely when I’m writing women’s fiction, a million YA novels are demanding my attention. (Granted, 98 percent of these ideas become useless, but still—it makes for a crowded head during a deadline.)
Café: Have any of the things in your books happened to you or do you just have an overactive imagination? How much of Jenny B. Jones do you write into your stories?
JBJ: Oh, wow. I dunno. I think my voice is pretty evident in the books. Friends and students who read my books always say, “It was like you were in MY HEAD reading the book to me.” I don’t know that they think that’s necessarily a good thing.
My first series, A Katie Parker Production, about a foster kid who finds her calling on stage, was loosely based on two students I had—one who blossomed and found her place when she discovered drama and one who totally evolved into a different person when she finally found a loving home after a lifetime of being unloved and unwanted.
I think the people around me find their way into my books more than I do. But there are definitely pieces of things I’ve experienced or dealt with in every book—some good, some not so hot. We all have dysfunction. Might as well use it. ; )
Café: I know you’re a teacher by day and yet have written several books in a short time. How do you find the balance between the two?
JBJ: Food, caffeine, stretchy pants. I have really struggled with balance the last few years. Mostly I only do school at school and only do writing at home—and the two never shall meet. This year I am blessed with a modified schedule and only teach ‘til noonish and then I get to go home and write, hopefully leaving my evenings free for a life. Or at least some good TV.
Café: The new schedule sounds like it’s working out for you. When you do write, how do you develop your characters? Charts? Interviews? Or do you just start writing and let them have their say?
JBJ: I am very character driven. I see the characters before I ever see the plot, and so I create that plot around the quirks of the characters or where I see them going or being funniest. I wish I did do charts or interviews or something organized. But I don’t. I never know really where my plot is headed. (This is a very, very comfortable feeling. NEVER keeps me up late night. Never makes me eat empty calories to numb my acute anxiety. . . I would love to be more of a planner/plotter. But I’m not. I am quite poopy at plotting.
Café: Now, for a few fun questions:
JBJ: YES! These are my favorite!!!!
Café: What is your favorite food?
JBJ: Mexican (fajitas and quesadillas are my favorite. And I have the local Mexican place on speed dial), cereal (it’s like crack—CANNOT get enough. It’s like a meal AND dessert), and ice cream. I used to not really care that much for ice cream. I could take it or leave it. In the last 5 years I can’t get enough. Why couldn’t that have happened with green beans or something healthy? I hated green beans five years ago. I hate them today. But ice cream? Double scoop!
Café: Favorite movie?
JBJ: In order. . .
1. Princess Bride
3. Sweet Home Alabama (leading guy is originally an Arkansas boy!)
4. Nacho Libre
5. Chocolat (Actually I don’t even know what this movie is about. But the title—it speaks to me.) (kidding.) (mostly)
Café: All time favorite book?
JBJ: Ew, tough one. I have a rotating list of favorites, but I love A Year Down Yonder, a YA novel by Richard Peck. Though it’s YA, adults will love it. I read it to my grandmother years ago who adored it. I cannot recommend that book enough. I also love Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts. There’s a secular romance novel that I just think is the best romance ever, but I’m not going to tell you because it’s not rated G, and I don’t want to be responsible for leading anyone to the temptation of a book with lots of kissing. I also ADORE A Girl Named Zippy. It’s nonfiction, but reads like fiction. It had me laughing out loud, something a book rarely does. It’s one of those books that you give to every friend you have.
Café: Billie Letts is one of my favorite authors. Who knew? I’ve met her a few times, and she is a wonderful person, too. She just tells it like it is. Any particular author who has influenced your writing?
JBJ: Meg Cabot, Kristin Billerbeck, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, God. Anyone with humor, romance, and quirky characters. Authors whose writing doesn’t take itself too seriously. (Except for God on that one. God can take Himself seriously all He wants I guess.)
Café: Coffee? Tea? Sparkling mineral water? Or . . .
JBJ: This question breaks my heart. I don’t know if I love anything in this world more than ice tea (strong, no sugar as the Lord intended). But caffeine makes me comatose for days, so I really try to stay away from it. But I fail. Often. And I always say, “I’ll never drink tea again!” But I do. Because I love it so. It’s quite a toxic relationship really.
And I love a good Diet Dr. Pepper or Diet Coke, but I’m two months free of the stuff! Cold turkey. No mas. If even 1/10th of the information on the internet is true about that stuff, it’s bound to have eaten a good chunk of my brain cells. And I’ve decided Diet Coke cannot have any more. I have a hard enough time finding my car in the Wal-Mart parking lot as it is.
Café: Jenny, you are a delight. I promise not to base a character in my next novel on your answers (maybe). Thanks for sharing your wisdom and wit here at the Café. Any exciting news or closing thoughts you’d like to share?
JBJ: We have a great time over at my blog on my website. Stop by and see me. Lots of giveaways and random attempts at the occasional joke. And stay tuned for November when the second book in the YA series A Charmed Life hits the shelves.
Café: That’s it folks. Remember you can find Jenny’s books here .
I don’t think you need to read my review to know you’re in for a treat with Jenny B. Jones’ debut women’s fiction, but allow me:
Jenny B. Jones debut into women’s fiction, Just Between You and Me, has been chosen as a 2009 WOMEN OF FAITH novel. In a departure from her quirky, action-filled Young Adult books, Jenny brings the same fun style to an adult audience.
Ivy, Texas is the last place Maggie Montgomery wants to go, but at the urgent request of her dad, she returns to her hometown. She’d rather be skydiving or rappelling or any number of other things in her adventurous life as a cinemaphotographer. Once back in Ivy, getting away is not as easy as Maggie hoped. Neither is facing the fears from her past and the people she’s hurt growing up in Small Town, America.
The story is one fraught with mishaps and filled with tenderness. Maggie’s niece, Riley, has experienced more than any ten year old should, and it is only to save her that Maggie agrees to stay. A budding romance with the local vet, a sister (Riley’s mom) with a drug addiction, and a haunting memory give Maggie’s story layers that kept me guessing and reading until the last page. The author packs a lot of humor into the pathos for a light, faith-filled book with a message for young and old alike. Only by reliance on God can we embrace and conquer our deepest fears.
Highly recommended for a summertime read . . . or anytime you need a pick-me-up!
BOOK DRAWING: Jenny has graciously offered a book giveaway, and I know you want to read this one, so please leave a comment AND your contact information. I’ll put your name in a “cereal bowl” in honor of Jenny’s craving and draw for a winner at noon Friday, September 11.
CAFE: A gathering place. A place of refreshment.
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