Author Spotlight: Jenni L. Walsh

Dec. 21, 2018

Today we are pleased to present middle-grade author Jenni L. Walsh. Jenni is the author of the SHE DARED series (Scholastic Jan. 1, 2019). 

Be sure to enter the rafflecopter to win a copy of both SHE DARED books, MALALA YOUSAFZAI and BETHANY HAMILTON (Scholastic)!

cover design © Maeve Norton 

Welcome, Jenni!

Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.

You could say I’ve danced around writing for children for quite a few years. Once upon a time I wrote a young adult manuscript, but when a publisher wanted to bring it to shelves, they asked me if I’d age up to adult. That book – along with my sophomore novel – were both adult. Then, my agent came to me and mentioned how Scholastic was looking for an author for a new nonfiction middle grade series. I jumped at the chance. The series, SHE DARED, is all about brave young women who accomplished daring feats of perseverance and bravery. And, as I’m in the process of raising a brave young woman and also a brave young man, I knew I wanted to be a part of Scholastic’s wonderful vision. Fortunately, I got the gig! 

Congrats on the SHE DARED series! Tell us about them, what inspired you, and how you researched the books.

cover design © Maeve Norton

We’ll be kicking off the series with two books, one profiling surfer Bethany Hamilton (who lost her arm in a shark attack), and the other activist Malala Yousafzai (who, after being shot by the Taliban, became an advocate for education). These women are remarkable and inspired me a great deal as I was writing and researching. Like other biographical series, they aren’t authorized – so I sadly didn’t interview Malala or Bethany directly – but I spent many hours reading their interviews, their memoirs, watching videos and documentaries, learning about their cultures, their beliefs, their causes. I hope I did their stories justice and made these women proud (should they ever read my books).

Cover design © Maeve Norton

Was your journey to publication long and windy, short and sweet, or something in between?

I’d say it was a whirlwind. Once I jumped at the chance to throw my hat into the ring to be the author of the series, the following months consisted of writing various sample chapters for multiple girls. I wrote about historical girls, contemporary girls – and we finally decided on Bethany and Malala. The timing coincided with the birth of my second child, so it was a hectic, but happy time.

What projects are you working on now?  

I hope to be adding to the series – and have been thinking of other remarkable young women to write about. Otherwise, historical fiction is a passion of mine, especially women who history has largely overlooked, and I have a middle grade and an adult project underway. Hopefully I can share more about those soon!

You write nonfiction. What's your best advice for aspiring authors who want to break into the nonfiction field?

Be open to opportunities! I was fortunate that my agent came to me, asking if I was interested in working on this series. But, otherwise, if you’ve got a great idea, pursue it. Many publishers are open to proposal ideas.

What is something most people don't know about you?

I’m such an introvert. The caveat is that I love talking about books so that gets me yapping and takes me out of my comfort zone!

Where can people find you online?

I’m on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter as @jennilwalsh and my website is This introvert would love for you to come say hi ☺ 

Jenni L. Walsh spent a decade enticing readers as an award-winning advertising copywriter before becoming an author. Now her passion lies in transporting readers to another world, be it in historical or contemporary settings. She is a proud graduate of Villanova University, and lives in the Philadelphia suburbs with her husband, daughter, son, and two furbabies. She also writes historical fiction for adults and children.  

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  1. I volunteer in a third grade class, and they would love these!

  2. I also love to write nonfiction and enjoy the researching very much. Congrats on your exciting and important books.

  3. Well done! Congratulations! There are so many wonderful women to feature. Best wishes!

    1. Thank you! I hope the series continues and I can feature more amazing young women!


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