How They Got Here: 2009 Debut Author Jenny Moss

This post is part of a year-long series of blog interviews I’ll be hosting with my fellow 2009 Debut Authors, called "How They Got Here." 

It should be an especially helpful series for teens who write, teachers, and anyone who wants to write for kids.  2009 debut authors will be dropping by to talk about how their writing in school shaped the authors they are today, what teachers can do to make a difference, how they revise, and how they found their agents and editors.  (You’ll even be able to read some successful query letters!)  If you know a teacher or two who might be interested, please share the link!

Today…Jenny Moss, author of WINNIE’S WAR!

A debut novel set against the backdrop of the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918.

Life in Winnie’s sleepy town of Coward Creek, Texas, is just fine for her. Although her troubled mother’s distant behavior has always worried Winnie, she’s plenty busy caring for her younger sisters, going to school, playing chess with Mr. Levy, and avoiding her testy grandmother. Plus, her sweetheart Nolan is always there to make her smile when she’s feeling low. But when the Spanish Influenza claims its first victim, lives are suddenly at stake, and Winnie has never felt so helpless. She must find a way to save the people she loves most, even if doing so means putting her own life at risk.

I had the good fortune to read an ARC of Winnie’s War and was swept away by Jenny’s story of a small-town Texas girl standing up to try and protect her family from the 1918 influenza epidemic. This is the very best kind of historical fiction – full of rich characters, vividly detailed history, the suspense of a threatening pandemic, and even a touch of romance, in the form of a first-kiss scene that made me smile for weeks after I read it. Teachers, in particular, will want to snatch this one up for their classrooms and school libraries.

Welcome, Jenny! Tell us about the first thing you ever wrote that made you think maybe you were a writer.

I can’t remember when I *didn’t* think of myself as a writer. But I do remember when I realized someone else might view me that way, too. It was one of my junior high English teachers, who praised my writing in front of the class. Teachers rock — and matter more than they probably know.

Is there a particular teacher or librarian who was a mentor for you in your reading and writing life?

So many! But this from my Acknowledgments page:

Many thanks to: The librarians at the numerous libraries I visited in Harris and Galveston counties, but especially to Mrs. Simkulet, wherever you may be, my first favorite librarian, who taught me how to shelve books and about kindness

Do you have a favorite strategy for revision?

Printing out the whole manuscript and reading it through first is a must for me.

What’s your best advice for young writers?

Write, read, and enjoy!

What’s special about your debut novel?

The main character, Winnie, lives in a small Texas town in 1918. Much of her life is very different from kids today, but some of her worries are timeless.

How did you find your agent and/or editor?

I found my agent through research, and she found me in slush.

If you’re a fan of historical fiction, WINNIE’S WAR is a middle grade novel you won’t want to miss.  You can pick up a copy at your local independent bookseller, order it through one of my favorite indies, Flying Pig Bookstore(they ship!), or find an indie near you by checking out IndieBound!

Up next in the "How They Got Here" Debut 2009 series… Cynthea Liu, author of THE GREAT CALL OF CHINA, will be stopping by on Monday, March 9.

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