YA Author Interview: Jenny Park

Pen Friends ~ Welcome Jenny Park, YA Author of The Shadows We Know By Heart, to talk about her writing, agent, and publishing journey with us. If you are Tarzan fans, you’ll want to check out her debut, The Shadows We Know By Heart.
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SP: Hi Jenny! Thanks for joining us. First, can you please tell us a bit of who are you and how long have you have been writing?
Jenny: Thanks so much for having me! I’ve been writing for about six years now, and before that I was an art teacher for middle school students. Growing up, writing was never my thing, although I spent more time reading books than talking to people. It wasn’t until I was getting my master’s degree that I really kind of broke through the mental block/fear I had about writing since it was an online writing intensive program. But it was still years after that before I wrote my first draft.

SP: Your debut, The Shadows We Know By Heart, came out earlier this year. (See teaser below!) Where did you get your inspiration? SHADOWS WE KNOW BY HEART final-1
Jenny: It was actually my mom’s idea! She kept telling me I should write a book about bigfoot (which I kept ignoring). But after I’d queried my third book and gotten about a hundred rejections on it, I realized I needed something completely unique. I toyed with the bigfoot idea for a while, but was hesitant since it’s seen as somewhat of a taboo subject. I really wanted it to be a serious book, something believable, where bigfoot wasn’t the center of the story, but it coudn’t exist without it. When I thought about twisting it into a Tarzan retelling, I thought I might actually be able to pull it off, and here we are! 
SP: How was writing this book? Did it take you a long time? Was it a breeze? What helped you finish?
Jenny: This was actually the fastest book I’ve written. Start to finish, including editing with feedback from betas and cps, maybe five months.
SP: You are represented by Mandy Hubbard at Emerald City Literary. How did you learn about her and how was the journey getting signed by her?
Jenny: I’d queried to Mandy before with several other manuscripts. She was in my top list, but was in my second query round for this ms. First round is usually composed of quick responders and agents that I knew usually requested partials or fulls, just so I could judge the query and pages. I queried her on a Monday, got the request for a full on Wednesday, and got the offer on Friday. Back then I obsessively stalked all the agents who had my ms on Twitter, and on Thursday, she suddenly Tweeted about a book that shouldn’t work, but did. If any book qualified for that, it was my bigfoot book! So I literally stared at Twitter for the next two days, and on Friday afternoon, she kept tweeting about the same book. Then she said she was emailing the author. I had a mild heart attack, pulled up my email, and there was her name in my inbox. I died. In a good way. We talked that night, and by Monday, Shadows was on sub.
SP: What has your publishing journey been like? Can you tell us what it felt like to be on submission to editors?
Jenny: Well, publishing is . . . publishing. It’s a roller coaster. Mostly lows with an occasional high. Submission the first time was horribly stressful but it only lasted two weeks. I have since learned that is not even close to common.
SP: What are some books that have inspired you along the way/as a child? (optional!)
Jenny: Definitely Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series.
SP: Writer Preference: First person forever? Or mix it up?
Jenny: First person forever. It puts me in the character’s head, which is hard most days as it is. I feel like I can write them more honestly and authentically that way.
SP: You are an artist, and a very talented one at that. Can you tell us more about that part of your life? Check out her art here.
Jenny: Sure! I went to college for a business degree, switched to biology, and finally settled on art (and now I understand why that upset my dad so much ;), because painting and drawing was really all I did besides read when I was younger. My parents took me to Hawaii when I was fourteen, and I discovered Wyland and Lassen. Their seascapes and underwater paintings pretty much sucked me in and have yet to let me go. I had work in various galleries around the Texas coast for a while, and was inducted into the Ocean Artist Society back in 2011. You can check out my website at www.jenniferparkart.com which features some of my pieces.
SP: Fav drink while writing? Snack? Distractions? Silly habit? (optional!)
Jenny: Coffee and chocolate. Usually music from a playlist inspired by whatever I’m working on.
SP: What’s next? Are you working on anything new right now?
Jenny: Yes, I’m on sub with a book in the same vein as Shadows. I’ve sent something new off to my agent. And now I’m trying to figure out what to work on next.
SP: Being a Texan, you were hit pretty hard earlier this year. We were very sorry to hear about that. Are things looking up??
Jenny: Thank you, yes we are all still recovering. Our house is almost back to normal, but we were lucky and only got a couple inches. Most of our friends and family still aren’t back in their houses yet. Our schools won’t be finished with renovations until summer. But things are getting better.
SP: Lastly, where can we learn more about YOU and your books?
Jenny: I’m on Twitter: @JenniferPark_1
Facebook at Jennifer Park Author
and my website is www.jenniferparkauthor.com
SP:  Thanks Jenny for joining us. Wish you the best with your upcoming books!
TEASER:

In this haunting and luminescent debut novel, a girl’s complicated family life starts to unravel after she finds herself falling for a mysterious boy who lives in the forest behind her house.

Leah Roberts’s life hasn’t been the same since her brother died ten years ago. Her mother won’t stop drinking, her father can’t let go of his bitter anger, and Leah herself has a secret she’s told no one: Sasquatches are real, and she’s been watching a trio of them in the woods behind her house for years.

Everything changes when Leah discovers that among the sasquatches lives a teenager. This alluring, enigmatic boy has no memory of his past and can barely speak, but Leah can’t shake his magnetic pull. Gradually, Leah’s life entwines with his, providing her the escape from reality she never knew she needed.

But when Leah’s two worlds suddenly collide in a deadly showdown, she uncovers a shocking truth as big and extraordinary as the legends themselves, one that could change her life forever.

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Nova, signing off.
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