Today I'd like to welcome Jenna Zark. Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a playwright and new-ish novelist. I’ve been writing plays for a while but my debut novel was published by Booktrope in 2016 and moved to Dragon Moon Press the following year. Years of writing for Scholastic Magazine readers taught me a lot about middle grade and Y/A readers, and I had an idea for a long time about a young girl growing up in the midst of the Beat Generation in Greenwich Village. I am still writing plays and lyrics, and as my bio says, am also trying to figure out which is the hardest to write: a play, novel or a song.
Wow it sounds like you can do it all. What got you into writing?
I had a babysitter as a child who used to compliment my writing, and I can’t for the life of me remember what I wrote for her. It might have been birthday cards? I started writing a little more as I got older and sometimes shared things with her. She kept telling me I should become a writer, though I wanted to be an actor first. Eventually, I believed her and started taking my writing more seriously.
Share a short excerpt from your novel
From The Beat on Ruby’s Street:
THERE’S A GUY in the neighborhood who wrote a book on toilet paper. They made it into a real book, but when he first wrote it you could unwind it all the way uptown and back again. His name is Jack Kerouac and I was on my way to see him at The Scene, when I got waylaid by a blood orange.
Now I’m in the police station, and my mother’s going to eat me alive. She hates police and social workers, and I’m knee deep in both of them. When my mom was a kid a social worker came by because my grandmother had a car accident and wasn’t like she used to be. So the kids ended up with foster parents and only saw their own parents on holidays. That’s what social workers do.
Sounds intriguing. Which do you prefer: print books or ebooks?
I really love print books because I love holding a book and turning pages. Plus, I think it’s easier on the eyes.
Have you been given any helpful advice during your career, Jenna?
One word: persist. That’s for just about anything you want to do, including writing.
I couldn't agree with you more. If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go and why?
My first choice would be Prague. First of all, any country that was run by a playwright is a country I want to see. Secondly, I’ve heard it’s an exquisite example of a beautiful, ancient European city. I have been to Ireland, Paris, Switzerland, Israel and Amsterdam. But Prague calls to me the most (though I’d return to Ireland in a heartbeat).
Currently, what are you working on?
I’m beginning to plot out the story that will become book three, the last book in the Beat Street series. I’m also working on a new play about a new immigrant.
Jenna, can you tell us a little bit about your main characters?
Ruby is the main character in the Beat Street series. She begins the book when she’s close to her twelfth birthday. She is fierce and funny and doesn’t like conforming to rules; in fact, she barges through them (a little like her author). She wants to be a poet and admires the Beat Generation poets in her neighborhood, and though she’s very rebellious and strong willed, she can also be very kind.
Ruby’s best friend Sophie is the daughter of a comedy writer who is one of the very few women comics to succeed. Sophie’s mom is based on Lucille Kallen, one of the writers of a famous series called Your Show of Shows. Sophie is a perfect sidekick for Ruby—funny and strong willed as well, but much richer than Ruby. When Sophie disappears in book two, Ruby is thrown into a tailspin.
Share something with us not a lot of people know about you.
I was once a singer in a rock band called The Seizures. I wrote songs with the man I was married to at the time. Later we divorced and I married someone else, and he was very impressed with the songs. But to me, it feels like a whole other lifetime.
Wow you really have done everything. Who designed the artwork for your cover? Or did you design it yourself?
My cover was designed by Gwen Gades, the publisher of Dragon Moon Press and a superbly talented cover artist. I first met her via Booktrope Press and fell in love with her work there. I love being able to tell her what I’m looking for and then, by magic… it appears!
What advice would you give someone who is considering publishing? Should they consider traditional or self-publishing?
I tried self publishing The Beat on Ruby’s Street in 2013, and was very happy to have the option. When Booktrope accepted my title in 2016, I really liked how easy the process became. They did the layout, helped me find the editor and cover artist and paid the cost. In my opinion, life is easier if you have a publisher because you don’t have to be involved with every tiny decision. You get to be a writer, and for me, that’s the most important role I need to have.
Any last words?
Thank you for reading this interview today! And thank YOU, S. T. Sanchez, for writing and sharing it.
Thanks so much for sharing. Find out more about Jenna at the links below. Happy Reading!!
To find the Beat Street Series books:
Facebook page is called Jenna Zark Author - Playwright
Twitter is ZarkWriting