Today it is my pleasure to introduce to you the wonderful and amazing Jenny Moss, author of WINNIE'S WAR -- a historical fiction YA novel in which twelve-year-old Winnie worries and frets and tries to keep her family safe from the Spanish Influenza.
Irene: Welcome, Jenny! Before we get to the questions, please tell us a little about yourself:
Jenny: I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but have lived in Texas since I was twelve. I've been a NASA engineer, adjunct writing instructor, day care worker, restaurant employee, grocery store cashier, math and physics tutor, and literature graduate student. I am currently a mom and a writer.
Irene: Your book is set during the Spanish influenza epidemic in 1918. How did you choose that time period?
Jenny: I'm fascinated by disease, I'm afraid. Current newspaper coverage of the bird flu led me to thinking more about the influenza pandemic.
Irene: Let's talk about research. How much time did you spend researching for this book? What were (and how did you find) your primary resources?
Jenny: I did a lot of research. A lot. But I enjoy searching through books, old newspapers on microfiche, and files in the backrooms of libraries. I visited museums and churches, and talked to many knowledgeable librarians and local historians. I sent e-mails to people I found on the Internet: doctors, morticians, farmers, and other authors.
Irene: Many writers claim to have been writers their whole lives. When did you first know you were a writer?
Jenny: I wrote stories as a kid, read books all the time, and acted out plays by myself. I can't remember when that yearning for imaginary worlds began for me, but I was young.
Irene: Did you pursue a writing degree?
Jenny: I have a graduate degree in Literature and have taken oodles of writing courses.
Irene: How are you like Winnie? What (if any) character traits do you share?
Jenny: I fret and worry, just like Winnie does.
Irene: If Winnie's War was made into a movie, who would you cast as the lead character?
Jenny: Wow. Wouldn't that be cool? Dakota Fanning can do anything.
Irene: As writers we are often told to READ. What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
Jenny: I love to read, so this is a pleasure. I have changed the way I read, paying closer attention to language, themes, dialogue, details. If someone raves about a book, it doesn't matter what type of book it is, I want to read it.
Irene: What YA historical fiction title(s) would you hold up as good examples of the genre?
Jenny: My favorites: Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson, A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
Irene: It seems each writer experiences a unique journey toward publication. How many books did you write before selling Winnie's War?
Jenny: I have one completed book in a drawer, Mona Molly. My agent sold another one of my books before she sold Winnie's War. It's a YA fantasy that will be released by Scholasic in 2010.
Irene: Tell us about The Call. Also, tell us about the editing experience.
Jenny: I have an agent, Nancy Gallt. So the first "call" was from her, offering representation. I was thrilled and so nervous. A few months later, Nancy called me with the news that Scholastic had made an offer for my YA fantasy. I was nervous and so thrilled. :)
I've gone through editing with two different publishers, and I'm still in the middle of the editing process with Scholastic. It's truly collaboration. I feel like the books aren't just mine anymore; I'm very interested in what my editors think.
Launching one book and editing another is interesting. And exaclty what I want to be doing.
Irene: What advice do you have for other debut authors as we prepare for our release dates?
Jenny: Lean on one another. Having a group like the Debs has been amazing. I also have other writer friends who know a lot more about the business than I do. They've been so helpful and generous. I found that PB/MG/YA writers are awesome.
Irene: What's your next project?
Jenny: A sequel to Shadow; my "Bob Dylan" book, a YA set in the Seventies, and a super secret project.
Irene: Thanks Jenny! And best wishes to you from all the Tenners on this, your Debut Day!
Order Winnie's War from Amazon.
Visit Jenny at her blog and Facebook!