I’m so excited to have Jeff Zentner on the show! Jeff is the William C. Morris award-winning author of his debut novel “The Serpent King”. His debut was also selected as a New York Times notable book, and an Amazon Best Book of the year. Both Buzzfeed and Mashable named “The Serpent King” as one of the Best YA books of 2016!
His second novel, “Goodbye Days” was recently released to rave reviews. Time magazine selected “Goodbye Days” as one of the five new books that guide young readers through hardships and struggles with lessons in resilience and hope.
In today’s episode, we dive right into the inspiration behind “The Serpent King” and “Goodbye Days”. Jeff walks us through his thought process while writing authentic voices for his characters. We dive even further into step-by-step advice on building strong characters and improving character development.
Jeff shares tips on approaching difficult scenes that challenge readers, and how to write about grief in fiction. We also discuss how storytelling inspires empathy and why it’s necessary for writers to carve out protected time for their writing.
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“Write what fascinates you, and write who you love.”
“You can be creative around the edges of a normal life.”
“You’ve got to commit to getting words on the page and you have to commit to finishing what you started.”
What You’ll Learn From This Episode:
- Why it’s absolutely necessary to create protected and sacred writing time
- Jeff’s insight into writing authentic voices
- Step-by-step advice on building strong characters
- How to improve character development
- Jeff’s thoughts on the connection between tragedy and comedy
- How to approach difficult scenes that challenge your readers
- How storytelling inspires empathy
- Why it’s crucial to show different cultures coming together in literature
- How to write about grief in a story
- Small manageable steps to take to accomplish your writing goals
Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. But now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, a powerful judge is pressuring the district attorney to open up a criminal investigation.
Luckily, Carver has some unexpected allies: Eli’s girlfriend, the only person to stand by him at school; Dr. Mendez, his new therapist; and Blake’s grandmother, who asks Carver to spend a “goodbye day” together to share their memories and say a proper farewell.
Soon the other families are asking for their own goodbye day with Carver—but he’s unsure of their motives. Will they all be able to make peace with their losses, or will these goodbye days bring Carver one step closer to a complete breakdown or—even worse—prison?
Learn More About Jeff Zentner
Jeff Zentner is the acclaimed author of The Serpent King. In addition to writing, he is a singer-songwriter and guitarist who has recorded with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, and Debbie Harry. “Goodbye Days” is his love letter to the city of Nashville and the talented people who populate it. He lives in Nashville with his wife and son.
Jeff’s Recommended Books & Resources:
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
The Body by Stephen King
It: A Novel by Stephen King
The House with a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
The New York Time
The Washington Post
The Wall Street Journal
The Huffington Post
Salvation on Sand Mountain: Snake Handling and Redemption in Southern Appalachia by Dennis Covington
A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Blue Nights by Joan Didion