Before I get into the spotlight, now that I'm back from Dallas, I'll be announcing the winners of the past 3 spotlights later tonight. So, come back again this evening and check the comments to see if the winner is you.
I recently met today's spotlight author at the annual ACFW conference in Dallas. Didn't have a chance to interact much, but the most unique part of our conversation was my asking about the chicken on the cover of her book. You'll have to read the book to find out more. :)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jenny B. Jones is the author of A Katie Parker Production series. Though now an adult, she still relates to the trauma and drama of teen life. She is thrilled to see her writing dreams come true, as her previous claim to fame was singing the "Star-Spangled Banner" at a mule-jumping championship. (The mules were greatly inspired.) She resides in Arkansas, where, as a teacher, she hangs out with teens on a regular basis. You can visit her at www.jennybjones.com and definitely stop by her crazy blog at jennybjones.blogspot.com.
ON THE LOOSE
By Jenny B. Jones
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1. This is book 2 in your Katie Parker Production series, and it takes Katie on a journey of faith, trust and discernment. What gave you the inspiration for this book?
I love this question. I was blessed with the opportunity to start a drama program at a small school some time ago. We saw kids coming into their own, using talents they didn't know they had and just many a-ha! moments. I had a student who found her place through drama—something she discovered she totally rocked at. But then I also had a student, "Maggie," who got "stuck" in the class and though she did her best, it wasn't her cup of tea. I will never forget the night of the play for the community. The kids got a standing ovation, but "Maggie's" family didn't show. I remember thinking, much like if a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear…if a kid gets a standing ovation and no one is there to see her… Anyway, that has always stuck with me. "Maggie" was later taken out of her home and placed with a friend's family, where she was thoroughly loved and cared for and received the attention that she had never had before. She became a new person. My character Katie is a combination of both those students I mentioned. Their stories are etched on my heart.
2. How much of your own experiences influenced the characters of Hannah, Paul and Martin? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?
Like I mentioned, students I had heavily influenced who Katie was. And I think there are definitely aspects of myself in this girl. We're both a little snarky, clumsy, irreverent, and occasionally love to ham it up. We both had wonderful, sassy grandmothers. And we both look just like Kate Moss. Kidding. :)
Aspects of Katie that were just hers? Hmmm…she's into vintage eighties clothing, and I’m definitely not, since I lived it once already. (though I am REALLY thankful the giant hair didn't come back in with the clothes.) She's definitely at a different place with her faith. Book two is about her deciding whether to trust her life to Christ despite all the junk she's going through. And she isn't too crazy about school. I LOVED high school. It was so much fun.
3. What themes exist in On the Loose that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?
This book is definitely about authentic faith, trusting God when there seems to be no apparent reason to. Bad things happen in life, and often it doesn't make sense. Good people get sick, children go hungry, soldiers don’t come home. It's a choice to put your faith in an invisible god, and it's not an easy one. I loved the opportunity to explore that with Katie Parker. She's very real and calls it how she sees it. No filter. No gloss.
4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?
I can't reveal too much without um…revealing too much, but the last 1/4 of the book was difficult to write. This is where decisions are made, issues are mostly resolved, etc. There are a number of giant issues in the book that have to come full circle, and I really felt a weight on me to get it just right and make it real. And there is a thread of a romance or two in the book, and this was my first shot at that. So that was a lot of fun on one hand, and challenging on another. Katie's BFF Frances, is a genius at everything—but romance. So it was fun to play with that and show her struggling with the dating world. She is not smooth.
5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?
The next book in the series, The Big Picture, will hit shelves next spring, around March.
Just as school winds down for the summer, Katie comes home to find the shock of her life on the Scotts' front porch—her mother. Bobbie Ann Parker, newly released from prison, has come back for her daughter. But how can Katie leave In Between when so much is falling apart? There's Maxine's crumbling love life to take care of, a boyfriend to win back, and the town drive-in to save.
As Katie is forced to say goodbye to her old life, she discovers living with her mother isn't all that was promised. Why is God totally detonating her life? Will Katie Parker, queen of stage and life, ever see In Between again?
Book three wraps up a series that was a lot of fun to write. I will definitely miss Katie and her foster grandma, Mad Maxine, a crazy gal I would put into every book I ever write, if I could get away with it.
Thanks, Tiffany. Congrats on your wedding. It was great meeting you at ACFW last week.
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Thank you, Jenny, for being in the spotlight. Readers, leave a comment for your chance to be entered in the drawing for a FREE, autographed book. If you don't wish to be entered, say so when you post. This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.
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