Author Spotlight: JC Peterson
August 11, 2022
We are excited to feature author JC Peterson and her debut young adult novel, BEING MARY BENNET(HarperTeen 2022).
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|cover art by Jacqueline Li|
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for teens.
I've always been a writer, but I didn't ever really consider fiction until I'd moved to a new city and didn't really know anyone. At first, I kept all my ideas squirreled away and hidden on scraps of paper that I'd scribble during lunch at my job. I wrote what I loved to read—coming of age stories. I love writing teen characters because they can make so many mistakes, but they still have the opportunity to learn and change. They're just navigating this huge, transformative time trying to figure out who they are—sometimes with a lot of bumps along the way. I also like writing about and for teens because there's always a sense of hope, a sense that change can happen.
Congrats on your debut YA novel, Being Mary Bennet! Tell us about the story and what inspired you.
Being Mary Bennet is about the prickly middle child in a family of five sisters who's desperate to figure out where she fits in her family and the larger world. It was inspired, obviously, by a modern-day look at Pride & Prejudice, but also by the people out there who don't feel like main characters. My Mary, Marnie, longs to be the Lizzy Bennet—you know, witty and vivacious—but she says the wrong thing and gets defensive and screws up. But she learns (after many, many mistakes) that even if she might not, on paper, be that perfect leading lady, she deserves to tell her own story.
Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
Very long and very winding. I started out trying to write YA fantasy because that's what I loved to read. But I was ... not very good at it. My voice lives in contemporary, and especially in comedy. I wrote three whole manuscripts that went nowhere because they just weren't right for me before I tried something contemporary for NaNoWriMo. That book got me an agent ... but then the book died on submission. I'd started drafting what would become Being Mary Bennet when my first agent left the business. I took some time off and gave it another go, and that's when I started moving forward again. I signed with my current agent and sold my book fairly fast, but it was a lot of work and rejections to get to that point.
You have another book coming out. Tell us about it, and if you have other projects in the works.
|cover art by Karina Perez|
Yes! Lola At Last is a companion novel to Being Mary Bennet and will release winter 2023 with HarperTeen. I love this book so much. It follows Marnie's little sister, Lola, who is the Lydia Bennet of her family. She has screwed up so badly that she's forced to spend a summer in a hiking and camping program that she vows to hate. Lola is a ton of fun to write, and I hope readers will come to love her like I do. Like Marnie, she can be very unlikeable, but there's a reason behind all her mistakes.
What advice would you give to your younger self? Is this the same that you'd give to aspiring authors?
I'd tell myself to be proud of my accomplishments. I think, for so many of us, we never truly celebrate our wins. The "goal" is always moving, and when you do that, you'll never really be satisfied. So I'd tell aspiring authors to take a second to celebrate the wins. Even if you think they're small, they're something you did. Honor that and let yourself feel that giddy sense of pride for doing the thing.
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
I am NOT a homebody. I feel like so many readers/writers are characterized as just wanting to curl up with a book at home, but I always have itchy feet. I want to see what's around every corner and go explore. I can always take a book with me.
Where can people find you online?
JC Peterson lives in Denver, Colorado, with her husband, two small sons, and one enormous tabby. When not dreaming up funny contemporary stories or herding children, she loves to eat and shop local, explore the Colorado mountains, and plan new adventures. Being Mary Bennet was her debut novel; Lola At Last releases winter 2023.