Student success is one of our favorite things at StoryStudio. This year we have four students publishing their first YA/MiddleGrade Novels! Big congratulations to Amelia Brunskill, Madeline Reynolds, Lauren Whalen, and Jessica Pennington. They’ve taken time from their busy writing lives to answer a few questions for us about their journey.
We’re excited to welcome Young Adult author Jessica Pennington for our final author interview!
Tell us about your upcoming novel.
Love Songs & Other Lies is a dual timeline contemporary romance. It alternates between the couple’s first love story (their senior year of high school in a small Michigan beach town), and their turbulent reunion two years after breaking up, when they’re unexpectedly reunited on a battle-of-the-bands-style reality show tour bus.
How did you find your agent?
I found my agent through the querying/slush pile process, thanks largely to pointers I received at the end of my Novel In A Year class, in 2014. So far, my publishing experience has been fantastic, and I can’t say enough good things about the team I’m working with at Tor Teen/Macmillan. My editor and I are a fantastic fit—I really couldn’t have asked for a better situation to publish my first novel.
What inspired you to write YA?
I think in the teen years, there’s a lot of emotion to work with. You’re figuring out who you are—nothing is solidified yet. That just felt like a really raw time of life that I wanted to write about. I honestly never even considered that I wouldn’t write young adult—it just felt like a really natural choice to me.
What classes did you take at StoryStudio that helped with your novel?
I took an Intro to Fiction class in late 2013, and it was the first time I had ever written any sort of fiction. I was always an avid reader, and I loved to write in general—poetry as a kid, and mostly academic and professional [writing] later down the road—but I had never thought to try fiction. It felt daunting, honestly. I joined the class because I was overworked running my own business, and I wanted to force myself to take a whole day off. I live in Michigan, so taking the commuter train, combined with trains and cabs, it was about a 3-hr commute each way. To and from I had time to just sit and think about everything in class, and it all really started to click. After that six-week course I signed up for a Novel In A Year class starting shortly after, and that’s where I wrote my debut novel. Joining the NIAY group and having the support of the instructor (Emily Gray Tedrowe) and an amazing group of writers (several of which I still critique with) was really the extra confidence I needed.
When can we buy your book?
Love Songs & Other Lies is out April 24, 2018
Ready to write your own novel? Check out our newest advanced programs: Novel in a Year: YA and Middle Grade, led by award-winning author James Klise, and Novel in a Year: Revise and Launch, led by award-winning author Abby Geni. NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS UNTIL DECEMBER 11!