Monday, May 19, 2008

Meet Jenny B. Jones - Interview & Book Giveaway

Jenny B JonesI’m so pleased to welcome author Jenny B. Jones. Her latest book, The Big Picture: A Katie Parker Production, Act 3, is the third and final book in the Katie Parker Production series. Let’s meet Jenny!


Jenny B. Jones is the author of the Katie Parker Production series. When she’s not writing about the drama of teen life, she’s living it as a high school speech teacher in Arkansas. Since the author has very little free time, she believes in spending her spare hours in meaningful, intellectual pursuits such as watching E!, going to the movies and inhaling large buckets of popcorn, catching Will Ferrell on YouTube, and writing her name in the dust on her furniture. Check her out at


JA: Your latest book is The Big Picture. Please tell us about it.
JBJ: Katie Parker's life teeters on a fine line between comedy and tragedy. Bobbie Ann Parker, released from prison, wants to start a new life with her daughter—in a new town. Katie is forced to walk away from In Between, leaving the family she loves, an endangered town drive-in, and a boyfriend who suddenly can't take his eyes off his ex. As life with her mom takes a serious nosedive, Katie must rely on her faith to keep it together. Yet God seems to be nowhere around. Can she trust him to see her through, and will her big picture ever include a happily ever after?

JA: Katie Parker has gone through quite a lot since we first met her in In Between. What’s your favorite thing about Katie?
JBJ: I like how much freedom I have with Katie. She’s very flawed and sarcastic, but beneath it all she is someone who wants “right” in her life. I’ve enjoyed writing about a teen who has not had a great start and has been shaped by that, but still overcomes it. As a teacher, I see this all the time—kids who are a product of their upbringing and a part of this generational cycle.

JA: The Big Picture is the last of the Katie Parker Production books. Was it hard to say goodbye to the series?
JBJ: Oh, yeah, definitely. They’ve really become a part of my life the last few years. In Between was my first book, so this entire series will always be profoundly near and dear to me. And the character of Mad Maxine, the psycho foster grandma, was possibly the hardest to leave behind. Writing doesn’t come easily to me, but her scenes were so crazy that they almost wrote themselves. If I could write Maxine into every book I ever publish, I would. This is a character who has license to say or do anything, so I loved working with that and never worrying about making her politically correct or even Biblically correct.

JBJ - The Big PictureJA: What do you hope people take away after reading The Big Picture?
JBJ: I think the book brings home a few points. First of all, life doesn’t make sense. Period. Life is unfair and it’s hard. And though we don’t always get all the answers, God offers hope, no matter the outcome. This book was about a new and struggling Christian learning to lean on God at a time when things were all around horrible. I think the book is also about family—true family. We have so many definitions of family these days, but it’s the ones who love you and invest in you, maybe not necessarily the ones you are genetically tied to.

JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
JBJ: A Pulitzer? Just kidding. Next is the Charmed Life series, which will debut with So Not Happening in 2009. It’s totally different from the Katie books, but still will include humor, sass, and teen issues. This series revolves around Bella, a 17 year old socialite from NYC. Her life radically changes when her plastic surgeon dad dumps her mom for a newer version, and Mom remarries…a professional wrestler from Oklahoma. I’m writing book two as we speak and really excited about the series. And any time you can work in male characters who wear spandex, it’s a good time.

JA: As a teacher, you’re around lots of teens for great periods of time. Do any of your students manage to find their way into your books?
JBJ: Definitely. Katie Parker was based on two students I had. One was a kid who was tossed around from family member to family member and just had a horrible, miserable life. She was a rough girl. When a friend’s aunt adopted her, this girl had her first taste of a real home. She had someone to cook for her, care for her, go to parent teacher conferences. My student changed into a completely different person. The other student I had in my drama class. I taught in a small school, and we started a drama program. This girl was not the smartest, not an athlete, not a musician. But when she got into drama, she just found her place and became top dog at something. So both of those girls can be found in Katie Parker.

Also my students now ask me to put their names in the book, and though I usually blow them off and roll my eyes…I totally do it.

JA: I was perusing your website and read that your “previous claim to fame was singing the Star Spangled Banner at a mule-jumping championship.” Okay, you’ve got me really curious. Please share.
JBJ: Ugh. The mule jump. Pea Ridge, AR is my hometown, and it’s also THE mule-mumping capitol of the world. (I know, you’re jealous, right?) So in high school a small group of us had to sing at the thing. It was not pretty. But it is a really great place to get a fried Twinkie.

JA: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
JBJ: Wow, I don’t know. With blogging these days, I feel like it’s pretty much all out there. Maybe that every time I get on a plane I’m convinced my life is over, my favorite job as a teen was assembling paint ball guns, I couldn’t touch the gas pedal in my first “real” car, and I’ve had fourth row seats at the Dave Letterman Show.

JA: Who are the authors that make your toes tingle?
JBJ: Jennifer AlLee. Have you heard of her?

I think for nonfiction it doesn’t get any better than Rick Bragg and Haven Kimmel. For fiction I like Meg Cabot, Stephanie Meyer, Janet Evanovich, Richard Peck, and Susan Elizabeth Phillips. With the exception of Bragg, if it’s funny and fast paced, I want to read it.

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with your latest publishing news?
JBJ: Definitely stop by my new website at My blog is front and center, and that’s where all the action is.

Thanks so much for letting me stop by!

Thanks for stopping by the blog, Jenny. May God continue to bless you in your writing journey!


In The Big Picture, Jones brings us the third act of her Katie Parker Production Series. Katie's given her life to Christ, but that doesn't mean everything is all sunshine and happiness. Between the return of her ex-convict mother, the romantic trials of her foster grandma Mad Maxine, and being drawn to her not-sure-if-he's-a-boyfriend Charlie, Katie's got a lot going on in her life. Jones writes with humor and a heart for teens. She never speaks down to the young people who will read this book. But this isn't just a young adult novel. Even if you're old enough not to get carded anymore, I guarentee you'll enjoy this story of family ties and trust.


If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of The Big Picture just leave a reply to this blog. I’ll combine the responses of my Blogger and ShoutLife blogs to pick a winner at random on May 26th. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) ShoutLifers will be contacted via ShoutMail. Good luck!


Karin said...

enter me please---thanks!

traveler said...

Thanks you for this lovely giveaway. Your interview was interesting and enjoyable.

Cherie J said...

Please enter me. I enjoyed the interview. Thank you.

tetewa said...

Sounds good, count me in!

windycindy said...

Sounds like the main character has a confusing time in her life. I would enjoy reading her book. Please enter me in your book drawing. Thanks,Cindi

Anonymous said...

Please enter my name in the contest! Thanks and god bless!
smile_y9 [at] yahoo [dot] com

Marlene said...

I loved In Between! I laughed so hard while I was reading it. I am a middle school teacher and I gave the book to a student when I was done reading it.

I want to win this book so I have a great summer book that I can read and share with my students.

Jennifer AlLee said...

Great to see all you lovely ladies here!

In case you couldn't tell from the interview (HA!) Jenny has a great sense of humor. If you haven't already, check out her blog. You'll be ROTFLOL (as they say).

ellie said...

Enjoyed this interview and learning about this grat book. Thanks for the opportunity.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a good book


Jennifer AlLee said...

The winner is Karin! Congrats and thanks to eveyone who stopped by :+}