The Writer’s Block: An Interview with Jennifer Holm

As we continue to expand the Middle Grade Mafia community, we have been able to meet some of the amazingly talented authors. This week is no different as I had the opportunity to connect with Jennifer Holm, author of the recent release THE FOURTEENTH GOLDFISH. She is a two-time Newberry Honor winner and has worked with her brother on the BABYMOUSE and SQUISH graphic novels. I am honored to bring to Jennifer Holm…

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Middle Grade Mafia: It is always fun to hear the path bestselling authors have taken to their first book deal, what was yours?

Jennifer Holm: I sent out my first manuscript (OUR ONLY MAY AMELIA) via snail mail in the old pre-internet days. I knew enough to send it to agents … but not enough to research what kind of projects the agents I submitted to represented. After about thirteen rejections over a year or so, an agent replied to me that she liked it and wanted to represent it. As you may imagine, I was overjoyed. She had me do some small revisions, and then sold it at auction.

MGM: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

JH: To be honest, I was intimidated about becoming a writer for a living. I’m from a big family and my parents expected us to have more practical careers. For many years and even after I had published quite a few books, I still kept my day job. Now, I write full-time.

MGM:What is your process for developing a new project? Do you focus on getting to know your characters first, do you outline the plot or take the idea and see where it takes you?

JH: I usually just start writing. Finding the voice is the most important part for me. Then I go back and do research and revise a million times. I’m a serial reviser. I could revise something forever.

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MGM: Many writers participate in Twitter pitch fests in effort to gain attention of agents and editors. Give us your best pitch for THE FOURTEENTH GOLDFISH in 140 characters or less.

JH: Ellie’s grandfather has discovered the fountain of youth. The end of life as we know it or the beginning? #BelieveInThePossible

MGM:What was the inspiration for the relationship between Ellie and her grandfather?

JH: My late father and I. He was a physician and loved science and medicine. After he died, I really grappled with a lot of weighty issues. Writing this book was good therapy in a way.

MGM:You have a number of historical fiction books. What about these eras inspires your creativity?

Mostly, I enjoy imagining kids’ everyday lives in other eras.

MGM: Any advice you could give to beginning writers?

JH: Write because you love it – and expect rejection. It’s no fun, but it’s part of the game.

I want to thank Jenni for taking the time to answer these questions. If you want to learn more about her work, visit her website and follow her on Twitter.


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