Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner {Blog Tour Interview}

Very honored today to be part of The Serpent King blog tour, and to have the amazing Jeff Zentner answering a few burning questions for me! Happy Book Birthday, Serpent King!!


The Serpent King
by Jeff Zentner
♦publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
♦release date: March 8th, 2016
♦hardcover, 384 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
Dillard Early, Jr., Travis Bohannon and Lydia Blankenship are three friends from different walks of life who have one thing in common: none of them seem to fit the mold in rural Tennessee's Forrestville High. Dill has always been branded as an outsider due to his family heritage as snake handlers and poison drinkers, an essential part of their Pentecostal faith. But after his father is sent to prison for sexual abuse of a young parishioner, Dill and his mother become real pariahs. His only two friends are Travis, a gentle giant who works at his family's lumberyard and is obsessed with a Game of Thrones-like fantasy series (much to his alcoholic father's chagrin); and Lydia, who runs a popular fashion blog that's part Tavi Gevinson and part Angela Chase, and is actively plotting her escape from Redneckville, Tennessee.
As the three friends begin their senior year, it becomes clear that they won't all be getting to start a promising new life after graduation. How they deal with their diverging paths could cause the end of their friendship. Until a shattering act of random violence forces Dill to wrestle with his dark legacy and find a way into the light of a future worth living.

“Characters, incidents, dialogue, the poverty of the rural South, enduring friendship, a desperate clinging to strange faiths, fear of the unknown, and an awareness of the courage it takes to survive, let alone thrive, are among this fine novel's strengths. Zentner writes with understanding and grace—a new voice to savor."  ---Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

*Q & A TIME!*
Q: When did you first discover you wanted to be a writer? And what was the very first story you ever wrote about?
A: I started writing in fifth grade. I wrote humorous stories in the Captain Underpants vein about a dysfunctional family. I got a lot of laughs from my teacher and class but I never imagined that writing was something I could actually do. I saw friends who wanted to become writers start chasing their dreams and I didn’t think I had what they had. So I pursued music for a long time. By my mid-thirties, though, I had both failed at music enough and developed the patience and work ethic needed to become a writer that I decided to give it a shot. And now here we are.

Q: Have you peeked at any early reviews and tweets about  the The Serpent King?  How does it feel to be affecting readers so strongly?
A:I have. It feels absolutely amazing. It boggles my mind to think about characters I birthed in my mind now living and having lives in the minds of other people. I absolutely love that. 

Q: Where is your favorite writing spot? Coffee shop?  Kitchen table? In the park surrounded by people?
A: I actually do most of my writing on the bus to and from work. I wrote about sixty percent of The Serpent King and about seventy percent of my second book on my iPhone on the bus. I just open a Google doc and start hammering away with my right thumb. I still write on the bus but I’ve upgraded to a tablet with a keyboard and I think my phone days are done.

Q: What were you like as a teen? Do any of the characters in The Serpent King reflect people from your own teen years?
A: I was super broody and able to feel lonely in a room full of people. I was depressed a lot. I dressed like Daniel Desario from Freaks and Geeks and Bender from The Breakfast Club, but I got straight A’s. I didn’t have tons of close friends. All of the characters from The Serpent King have a piece of me. Dill has my general worldview and love for music and poetry. Lydia has my sense of humor and sarcastic edge. And Travis has my nerdiness and imagination. 

Q:What is the best writing advice you've ever been given? Or the best advice you could give to teens who want to become writers?
A:Read as many great books as you possibly can. You have to be a great reader to be a great writer. And read widely. If you want to write YA, you must read a ton of all sorts of YA, but don’t forsake the adult lit. There’s some marvelous stuff there. Read everything.     

Thanks so much, Jeff, for all the brilliant answers!

*       *       *       *       *       *   


credit: J. Rodriguez
Jeff Zentner lives in Nashville, Tennessee. He came to writing through music, starting his creative life as a guitarist and eventually becoming a songwriter. He's released five albums and appeared on recordings with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Thurston Moore, Debbie Harry, Mark Lanegan, and Lydia Lunch, among others.

Now he writes novels for young adults. He became interested in writing for young adults after volunteering at the Tennessee Teen Rock Camp and Southern Girls Rock Camp. As a kid, his parents would take him to the library and drop him off, where he would read until closing time. He worked at various bookstores through high school and college.

He speaks fluent Portuguese, having lived in the Amazon region of Brazil for two years.
Find Jeff Online:
Website | Twitter | Facebook |  Instagram    

Add The Serpent King on Goodreads

Purchase The Serpent King:  Indiebound  •  BookDepository  •  Amazon

Don't forget to visit the rest of the tour for more fun info on Jeff & The Serpent King!
Monday, February 22: Jenuine Cupcakes, Kickoff Blog Tour Post
Tuesday, February 23: Book Hounds, Review
Wednesday, February 24: Mundie Moms, Review
Thursday, February 25: Curling Up With a Good Book, Review
Friday, February 26: To Read or Not to Read, Annotate a Scene Guest Post

Monday, February 29: Bookish Lifestyle, Review
Tuesday, March 1: The Book Swarm, Review
Wednesday, March 2: Katie’s Book Blog, Playlist Post
Thursday, March 3: Paperback Princess, Guest Post: Writing a Character with a Parent in Prison
Friday, March 4: Who R U, Behind the Scenes Book Secret Guest Post

Monday, March 7: Icey Books, Review
Tuesday, March 8: Stories & Sweeties, Author Interview
Wednesday, March 9: LovingDemBooks, Review
Thursday, March 10: Swoony Boys Podcast, Review
Friday, March 11: Good Books And Good Wine, Review

Monday, March 14: Winter Haven Books, Review
Tuesday, March 15: Me, My Shelf and I, Review
Wednesday, March 16: Novel Novice, Review
Thursday, March 17: Lili’s Reflections, Review
Friday, March 18: A Reader of Fictions, Author “Don’t Miss” in Nashville Guest Post


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