Saturday, April 4, 2020

Inside the Mind: Jenna Zark

Welcome to Inside the Mind where we here at The Faerie Review interview authors and creators.
Our guest today is Jenna Zark, the author behind The Beat on Ruby's Street and Fool's Errand.

Lily:  Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview Jenna I’ve really enjoyed reading The Beat on Ruby’s Street and Fool’s Errand. What inspired you to write a series set in 1950s NY?
Jenna:  I knew from an early age that I was attracted to rebels and rule breakers.  I grew up in a middle-class family in a New Jersey suburb close to Manhattan – but light years away from NYC in a hundred thousand ways. My parents used to visit a family that had a daughter who was a few years older than me. She had a picture book about a little Beat girl, about 4 or so, growing up in a Beat family in the 1950s. It made me curious about the whole Beat scene and what that little girl might be like when she was 11 or 12. 
When I got to be 12, my older sister brought me to Greenwich Village to see a play I knew instantly I was “home” – and was sure I wanted to grow up to be an artist. I read and watched whatever I could about the whole Beat Generation scene, the language, poets, and culture. It was just a fascinating world to me.
Lily:  I love how it all started with a picture book and just grew. Ruby makes a great narrator, was she based on anyone?

Jenna:  First of all, thank you – I’m so glad you like her! My husband insists Ruby was created to be the kind of kid I always wanted to be. Her voice just popped up in my head and hasn’t ever left.
Lily:  There's just something about her that speaks to me. I can easily see her being a bit of your ideal self as a kid. Without spoilers, (if possible), what’s your favorite scene in each book?
Jenna:  For The Beat on Ruby’s Street, there’s something about that cab ride with Nell that resonates a lot with me. I think the idea of trying so hard to be close to someone, but missing the mark, even though you get close – is a heartbreaker I’ve experienced. For Fool’s Errand, I think my favorite scene involves the whining moment at the hospital. It can still make me smile when I think of it.
Lily:  I won't lie, the cab ride made me tear up. Is there a third book in the works? 
Jenna:  Absolutely, though it’s just barely beginning! I want the Beat Street series to be a trilogy. This last book will be mostly set in San Francisco.
Lily:  I can't wait to read it! I've grown a bit attached to Ruby I must admit. Now we’d like to talk about you as a writer. Is there a time of day when you feel the most inspired to write?
Jenna:  It’s usually late at night, like 4 a.m. when I wake out of a dead sleep and think, “I can’t get up now. I really can’t.” But midmorning is also a very good time for me to write.
Lily:  I'm a bit of a night owl. I actually started typing this up at about 4am. Do you plan your books or let them flow?
Jenna: I mostly let them flow, but wish I could plan them out better.
Lily:  The flow definitely works well. That lack of rigidness is part of what draws me in. If you could have your ideal writing studio, what would it be like?
Jenna:  I spent some time at a writer’s colony called Norcroft in Northern Minnesota for a couple of summers that offered the ideal writing studio. It was created by an incredible woman and writer/publisher named Joan Drury who truly thought of everything and supplied all the food and lodging you needed if you were accepted to the colony. The studio was a little house with a bathroom in the middle of the woods and I could go there whenever I wanted. Once I shut the door it was completely sacred space – and I loved having it all to myself. Later I went back to the lodge I shared with other women writers and we had the most wonderful time. But the writing studio was completely private.  
Lily:  That sounds amazing! Let’s finish up with some fun questions and get inside your mind. If you could be any animal, real or fictional for a day, what would you be and why?
Jenna:  I would love to be a leopard – I love the way they look and run – but a horse would work as well. I’d just love to have the freedom to run for miles with no one to stop me.
Lily:  I can almost feel the wind rushing past just thinking about it. What’s one thing on your bucket list you’d do tomorrow if you could?
Jenna:  Travel! My screen is set to all these different scenes in countries all over the world every time I start up the computer. My dream is to travel as much as possible. Right now I barely do.
Lily:  I hope you get the chance to travel soon (once current world circumstances abate). Do you have a lucky piece of clothing or a lucky accessory?
Jenna:  YES! My father’s dog tag. My son had one and I have one. He lost his in school and I found mine after many years of thinking it was lost. It has his old address and my mother’s name on it as well as his army number. It just brings him to life for me, now that he isn’t here any more.
Lily:  This really made me smile. I have a necklace that connects me to my grandma and makes me feel like she's always with me. If you could travel to a different planet that also had intelligent life, would you?
Jenna:  If I could get back, I would. I have been thinking about a musical about that very subject – I think it would be more fun to write about than actually travel to it. I’d like to travel to every country on earth before I left the planet.
Lily:  I would totally watch a musical about traveling to another planet with intelligent life. I might have a soft spot for musicals however. How many parts do you have to replace on a car before it becomes a new car?
Jenna:  I have no idea. I’m seriously ignorant about cars, which is ironic, considering that I’m married to a trucker.
Lily:  Hehe. My dad wouldn't let my brother or I get a car until we could do basic maintenance and a little extra. Honestly I couldn't answer the question either. What’s the ugliest color you’ve ever seen painted on a wall?
Jenna:  Brown.
Lily:  I've always wondered why people use brown paint for more than just accent colors, it always seems more sad than gray. Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
Jenna:  Just that I want to thank you for reading books one and two – and say that I’m very grateful to be able to be a writer.
Lily:  I really did enjoy them both, and I'm happy I had the opportunity! How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Jenna:  I would say please visit my website as a starting point. In addition to writing the Beat Street Series I am also a playwright and lyricist and you can learn more about that on the site. You can also follow me for run on Instagram – I am always looking for photos of stuff you (and I) won’t see every day.

Book Links

The Beat on Ruby's Street
| Buy | My Review |
Fool's Errand
| Buy | My Review |

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