Author Spotlight: Jessica Pennington
April 20, 2018
Today we are excited to feature young adult author Jessica Pennington and her debut novel, LOVE SONGS AND OTHER LIES (Tor Teen, April 2018).
Be sure to enter her giveaway for a copy!
Tell us about your background and how you came to write for teens.
I've loved to write since I was a kid. In elementary school I wrote poetry, and that was my first time attempting to get published--when I was ten, with the help of my fourth grade teacher. But as I got older my writing was mostly school-related. I didn't try fiction until 2013, when I was feeling over-worked as a wedding planner, and decided I needed a hobby! So I joined a fiction writing class, and a few months later a Novel In A Year group. And that's where LOVE SONGS & OTHER LIES was born! I love to read YA, so it was just naturally what I wanted to write.
Congrats on your debut, LOVE SONGS AND OTHER LIES. Tell us about it & what inspired you.
Music and first love. I was listening to the radio and Say Something by A Great Big World came on. It's this really heartbreaking song about a break up. I sat down and wrote a scene based on that song. It was the first first part of what would become Love Songs & Other Lies. I loved the idea of exploring what would break up a couple who seem so in love, and what could possibly bring them back together (in the case of Love Songs, being trapped on a tour bus together). From there, I went back to the beginning and figured out who the characters were and what brought them to that point of not being together.
Tell us about your road to publication-- long and windy, short and sweet, or something in between?
My road to publication wasn't too horrible, thankfully! The querying process went quickly, and after about 6 weeks I landed with my very awesome agent, Michelle Wolfson. We were on sub for maybe six months, but I was also pregnant with my first child, so it's honestly all a bit of a blur. It didn't feel like long at all. But all in all from typing the last word of the book to seeing it on shelves, it will be about 3.5 years, so like everything in publishing it took plenty of patience!
What projects are you working on now?
I just started copyedits on my second young adult novel, WHEN SUMMER ENDS, which comes out April 2019. And the whole process with the second book feels so much faster than the first! It's a contemporary romance about love and self-discovery, with the backdrop of a beach-town Michigan summer and all of the things that brings with it--the beach, canoe trips, bonfires, and late-night swimming. I'm really excited about it!
What advice would you give your younger self? Is this the same you'd give to aspiring authors?
Don't care so much about what other people think. And to writers, I'd give the exact opposite--find your tribe and let them help you become a better writer; writing groups, critique partners, agents, editors--they will all make you so much better!
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
I've always been horribly shy about sharing my writing. Publication was not something I ever imagined for myself, past that first attempt when I was nine (nothing scares you when you're nine). It's very strange to be at a point in my life where I don't mind sharing, and I've found it to be strangely empowering! Also, I love penguins. A lot.
Where can people find you online?
Jessica Pennington is no stranger to the combination of love and drama. She’s a wedding planner, after all. A writer since the age of ten—when she sought publication for her poem about a tree—Jessica likes the challenge of finding the humor in a sad situation or highlighting the awkwardness in a romantic one. She lives in a Michigan beach town suspiciously similar to the one in her novel, with her husband Josh and their son, Rory. Love Songs & Other lies is her debut novel.
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