R.J. Anderson (rj_anderson) wrote,
R.J. Anderson

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INTERVIEW: Jenny Moss, author of WINNIE'S WAR (Walker, February 3rd)

This week's featured debut2009 author is the delightful Jenny Moss, who's here to tell us all about her excellent middle-grade historical novel Winnie's War.

About the Book:

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.

About the Author:

Jenny Moss is a former NASA engineer. She earned a master's degree in literature and taught writing as an adjunct at University of Houston-Clear Lake. She lives with her two teenagers in Houston, Texas. Welcome to the Oakenwyld, Jenny!

When did you first get the idea for WINNIE'S WAR? How long did it take you to get the book to the point where a publisher was ready to buy it?

In March 2005, I wrote Winnie's first words: Her grave was well-tended because I tended it. That sentence didn't make into the final manuscript, but it did help me establish Winnie's voice. Over the next two and a half years, I wrote two books, Winnie's War, and a fantasy coming out with Scholastic in 2010.

What drew you to the idea of writing about the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918? Do you have any kind of family connection or other personal link to this incident in history?

Newspaper stories coming out during the bird flu scares mentioned the 1918 influenza pandemic. That drew me in. I wanted to know more.

You must have had to do a lot of research for this book. Do you enjoy research? How do you go about it?

It's such a thrill to find some obscure fact after hours of researching. Looking through dusty files in the backroom of a library, wandering through old cemeteries, visiting living history museums, talking to people about their pasts -- it's all very intriguing to me.

Can you tell us about something interesting you learned in the course of writing WINNIE'S WAR that didn't make it into the book?

One thing I continued to read about, even though I knew I wouldn't be using it in the novel, was a medical adventure: scientists' search -- years later -- for a strain of the 1918 influenza virus. I'd recommend Gina Kolata's Flu for anyone who's interested in that fascinating story.

What's your next writing project? Tell us a little about it.

I'm working on multiple projects, again. I didn't think I'd take to parallel writing, but that's been my method lately! I'm writing a YA fantasy that is due to my Scholastic editor soon, a YA novel set in the Seventies about two teens skipping school to see a Bob Dylan concert in Austin, a sequel to my fantasy, and something I'm not talking about yet but having a blast writing.

Thanks for joining us, Jenny!

Thank you! Fun questions!

And now for a personal recommendation -- I had the privilege of reading Winnie's War a few months ago. It's a beautifully written, moving and engrossing book with real and engaging characters, and I would gladly recommend it to any young reader who is interested in the time period or just enjoys historical novels in general.
Tags: books, debut2009, interviews, writing

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