Interview: Jenn Bennett

NRR: Can you share with us how you got started in writing?

A couple of years ago, I lost a high-paying corporate position during the worst part of the recession. It was a soul-sucking job that I detested, so the loss was a mixed blessing. Instead of jumping back into another job I'd end up hating, I decided to try my hand at writing fiction.

Looking back, it was a rather ballsy and stupid thing to do. I've always been a avid reader, but I didn't have any formal training in writing. I was, however, an amazingly good daydreamer, so I had plenty of ideas and gobs of enthusiasm. My first manuscript was complete crap, of course, but I kept trying. I wrote five books the first year. The third one sold. Sounds easy, right? It was the hardest thing I've ever done, and continues to be every day. But I wouldn't give it up for anything in the world.

NRR: How were you inspired to write the Arcadia Bell series?

I was watching a news story about a serial killer, and wondered how it would feel to have a monster like that in your own family. How would you live your life, dealing with the stress of it while wondering if you had the same crazy genes inside you? Then I flipped it around—what if that person was accused, but you knew in your heart that he/she was innocent? How far would you go to save them?

NRR: What was the most challenging part of writing Kindling The Moon?

I wrote it in six weeks, from idea to completion, which is pretty fast for me. I prefer to take 2-3 months to write a first draft. But
KINDLING was kind of unstoppable, so I just went with it. I think the most challenging part was sending it out to agents and moving on to a new project while I waited. I really loved the world I'd created, and especially loved the characters; I was terrified I'd lose them if no one else felt the same way. Fortunately, though, people did.

NRR: What is one word you would use to describe Cady's character?

Determined. She's been on her own since the age of seventeen, taking on new identities and moving around the country, hiding from the law. At the beginning of the book, I'm not sure if she really knows how to be happy (she has to learn this), but she knows how to keep pressing forward without giving up. She's a survivor.

NRR: What is your guilty pleasure?

Expensive food, unfortunately. I'm addicted to Top Chef and other cooking programs, I like to shop for good ingredients, and I'm always pining over new restaurants opening up near me in Atlanta. In another life, I'd be able to afford high-end sushi and fine French dining every day of the week. Being a debut writer, though, not so much, LOL!

NRR: What is in your to be read pile?

Perdido Street Station, by China Miéville; Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones; Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready; Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews, and about five million more. I've also been reading The Historian on and off for about a month now, between other things.

NRR: Can you share with us the storyline to Kindling The Moon?

Girl with an unusual ability is raised by occultists. Girl fakes death when occultists are accused of murder, and doesn't see them for
several years. Girl ends up in northern California, running a tiki bar. Girl's parents are caught on tape and a manhunt ensues. Girl teams up with enigmatic man to prove her parents' innocence. During all of this, there's ceremonial magick, Earthbound demons in human bodies, a Hellfire Club, a hedgehog, and an unconventional romance. Huzzah!

NRR: What can we expect to see from you next?

The second book in the Arcadia Bell series, Summoning the Night, will come on in April 2012. In the meantime, I've just completed a
paranormal young adult book that's got a heavier romance plot line, and am about to start writing a supernatural noir thriller for teens, as well. I'm interested in writing within several genres, but I can't ever see myself writing something that didn't have a little darkness, surrealism, or mythology behind it.

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