Wednesday, June 10, 2009


It is with great pleasure, and an honor to interview children's author Jennifer Swanson. author of: "PENNY & RIO" Subtitle: "The Mysterious Backyard Meeting" Genre: Children's Book/ages 6-9/early reader chapter book Illustrated by: Rosita Schandy & Neal Wooten INTERVIEW Geri: Did a special person in your life inspire you to write? Jennifer: Not really, I have always loved to write. Although I have to say the biggest influence was my Mom. She taught us to love books. As kids, we were always going to the library to get books, and I participated in the summer reading programs every year. It only seemed natural to me to write a story of my own. I've been writing since I was five. Geri: Have you written any books based on a true life story? Jennifer: No, although the characters in my books, Penny & Rio are loosely based on my real-life dogs. The real Penny actually did do some of the things she does in the book. The personalties of both the real Penny & Rio, and the characters are very similar. Geri: Who is your favorite author? Jennifer: That's tough, I have so many! For children's authors, I'd have to say J.K. Rowling, Carolyn Keane, although I know many of the Nancy Drew books were written by different authors. Beverly Cleary, and lately I've just discovered Clara Gillow Clark, and Heather Vogel Frederick. Geri: Do you have goals set for the future? Jennifer: Sure, I'd love to be as famous as J.K. Rowling. No, seriously, I would just like for kids to enjoy my books. I plan to continue with the Penny & Rio series, and I have written a mid-grade novel that I hope someone would like to publish. Geri: How did you feel at your first book-signing? Jennifer: Excited, nervous, scared, wondering if anyone would actually buy my book. It was an emotional roller coaster. But in the end, it was a great feeling and one I wouldn't trade, and yes, I did sell some books. Geri: If you were to write in a different genre, what would it be? Jennifer: Well, as I said above, I've written a mid-grade novel as well, but that is also a mystery. I am drawn to mysteries. I think if I had to write in a completely different genre, then I would write non-fiction science books for children. I love science! If I could find a way to convey to kids how fun science can be, then I would be happy writing about that. Geri: We begin with a manuscript, and end in promotions. What was your most difficult task? Jennifer: Definitely the promotion, and marketing side. Writing for me is relaxing, and fun. Promoting and marketing my book is more difficult. It is time-consuming, and can be expensive, but a very necessary side of being an author. But if I had my choice, I'd rather be writing! Geri: As a child, what were your favorite books? Jennifer: Nancy Drew, The Ramona series by Beverly Cleary, Harriet the Spy. I even read my brother's Hardy Boy Mysteries! I think a book like that draws you in, and wants you to help decide how it will end is fascinating. I still do read mysteries all the time. I've gotten pretty good at predicting endings, although thankfully, I am not always right. It drives my husband crazy when we watch TV shows, and I tell him how I think it will end. So, now I have to keep to keep it to myself. Geri: Do you have any current work in progress? Jennifer: I am in the editing process of the second Penny & Rio book. It is titled Penny & Rio: The Locked Doghouse Mystery, and will be released in August 2009. I have a basic outline for the third book in the series as well. Plus, I am working on a couple of picture books. Geri: When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer? Jennifer: When I was very young. I began writing stories in kindergarten, and begged my teacher to let me share them with the class. I used to illustrate them too back then, until I realized that I am a much better author than illustrator. Now, I let the professionals handle that, but I have always written. It is a way of relaxing for me, and hopefully a way that I can share my wonderful stories with children. I only hope that my stories will give them as much joy as the books I read, and still remember as a child. Geri: Thank you for your time, this interview was delightful! Jennifer: You're welcome!

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