Author Interview with Jenna Zark

1. What type of author are? Eg.Indie
My debut novel was published in June by Dragon Moon Press. It’s a small press so I’m not sure how to categorize it… but that’s what I know. I am also a playwright and one of my plays was published some years back by Dramatists Play Service.
2. What are you currently reading?
I’m about to dive into Nutshell by Ian McEwan and I’m in the middle of a YA book called Jailbird by Heather Huffman, which I can barely put down.
3. What was your last read was it good or bad?
I recently finished Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff, which I loved reading from beginning to end. She has such a beautiful style, and it really got inside me.
4. How do you think your book will solve certain social issue?
I don’t know that my book would really solve any social issues, but I do hope it resonates with readers emotionally. Anyone whose parents ever separated, anyone who wanted more from their parents than they got, anyone who ever wanted to be an artist of any kind or who tried to stick up for a friend and was beaten up for it… all those emotions went into The Beat on Ruby’s Street.
5. What is the message in your book?
I think it’s about how we really can’t control what life will throw our way, but the art we make and find around us is a way to heal, no matter what terrible things we are going through.
6. How did you get the idea to write The Beat on Ruby’s Street?
As a child I read a picture book about a little girl growing up in a Beat Generation family. I was nine at the time, but started thinking as I got older about what that little girl’s life was like. Then as a teen I had a good friend who ran away and met a man who was a hippie, and he took care of her until she was ready to go home. That and a trip I took with my sister to Greenwich Village all became the seeds for The Beat on Ruby’s Street.
7. How long did it take for you to write this book?
I wrote the first draft in about a year and a half, then a second version a year later and finally a third that took about six months. Altogether, it was about three years from beginning to end.
8. Why did you decide to be an author?
I don’t think I really decided. I think writing chose me, because it was something I liked doing and wanted to do. But I started a career in acting before I realized that writing would give me more of the freedom I needed, to be who I was meant to be.
9. What inspired your book cover?
I had a great editor before Dragon Moon published the book at Booktrope Publishing. Her name was Galit Breen and she asked me to write down the most important elements in the book. I shared those elements with the cover artist Gwen Gades, who came up with several concepts. Galit and the team helped me choose the current cover after looking at all Gwen’s work. Interestingly, I am now with Gwen’s publishing company, as Booktrope folded.
10. Who would read your book if it was an audiobook?
I’d love to read it because I’ve also done a lot of voiceover work and can hear in my head how I want the narrator Ruby and the other characters to sound.
11. What tips do you have for writers like me?
Write about something you are passionate about. You will need to be really passionate in order to stick with months or even years of revising. You need to be obsessed by your subject and characters. I would also say you need to read others’ books as much as you can in your specific genre, to find out what moves you – and what doesn’t.
12. What is your favourite genre to write and why?
It’s probably middle grade for now, but I am also starting work on a book for adults, so that may change. I like middle grade because it gives me a wide latitude of subject matter that is not connected to romance. I just prefer to have my characters focused on other things, because romance comes and goes and I’m more interested in writing about active choices.
13. What is your favourite genre to read and why?
I really love adult novels with compelling characters. The less I can predict about the characters and story, the better – because I love to be surprised.
14. What inspired you to write you book The Beat on Ruby’s Street?
I was always intrigued by the Beat Generation, which was more or less a precursor to the hippie era, because I loved the idea of people going against the tide of convention. As an artist you are always rebelling, just by being an artist. I loved the idea of an entire community of artists, and the fierce rebellion going on in the heart of a young woman like my narrator.
15. What authors inspire you today?
Writers for young adults and middle grade books inspire me like Gary Paulsen, Karen Hesse, Jack Gantos and Wendlin Van Drannen, to name just a few, plus authors I know that include Kandi Wyatt, Heather Huffman, Pauline Campos, Jill Murphy and Chris Minich. Adult fiction authors like Ian McEwan, Kazuo Ishiguro and Lauren Groff are tremendously inspiring too, plus I am a huge fan of Jamaica Kincaid. And I don’t want to forget classic writers like Fyodor Dostoevsky, Chekov and Dickens.
16. What is your favourite book and why?
I have to say that kind of changes, year to year, but Never Let Me Go is very high on my list because of the compelling subject matter – the life of a clone – plus the book Saturday by Ian McEwan because of the sheer force of the writing about 24 hours in the life of a family upended by a terrifying break in. Another huge favorite is The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky because he is such an unabashedly passionate soul and the souls in this book are all swirling around each other like lightning storms.
17. What character out of your book The Beat on Ruby’s Street do you relate to?
My narrator Ruby came out of a lot of pieces of my life, so of course I relate to her. I also relate to her best friend Sophie, who wants to become an actor.
18. If your book was a movie who would act in it and why?
I don’t know enough about 11 year old actors, and my two main characters are that age, so it’s hard to choose! I would probably choose Johnny Depp for the Jack Kerouac character, because I’ve seen him recite poetry in a documentary on Beats and I think he would be wonderful in this role. Though it would likely be too small to interest him.
19. What is your favourite book to movie adaptions and why?
I absolutely loved Lord of the Rings because I thought the director and writers really captured the spirit of the book, and I could travel along with the story knowing it was true to what I’d read and loved.
20. Who would be in your bookish family?
I’d request Ian McEwan, Kazuo Ishiguro, Jamaica Kincaid, Lauren Groff, Edna O’Brien, Dostoevsky, Anton Chekov and dear friends who love to read.
21. How did you come across my blog?
The wonderful Pam Labbe introduced me…

22. How would you improve my blog?
I don’t think you need improvement and I love that you are so motivated to write about books that you wanted to blog about them!

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