Question time with Jenn Bennett
So quick reminder for those who haven’t read the other blog! We read The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett as our May Book Club pick. Not only did we have a super fun time reading the book and discussing it as a group, we also had the incredible opportunity to put some questions to the author herself, who very kindly agreed to take time out of her super busy schedule to take part in a Q&A!
Below are all the questions our reading group had for Jenn during the session – and boy was it insightful!
Q&A with Jenn Bennett
Hi Jenn if you’re there 👋🏼👋🏼
I’m here! Hello!
Thank you so much for taking the time to join our Q&A!
No problem. Thanks for having me!
We know you’re pushed for time so feel free to let us know when you need to go! Deadlines don’t make themselves!
I am desperately trying to finish a book for my publisher, so I do apologize in advance for not being to stay a long time, but I’m happy to answer a few questions!
Lets start by saying that we think everyone just wanted to let you know how much fun The Lady Rogue was!
Oh, thank you! I had so much fun writing Theo and Huck!
We have some questions so feel free to stop us anytime and we can email the rest across!
The Lady Rogue is wildly different to your other published works! Where did the idea and inspiration come from to write such a unique book with a more old school classic adventure vibe?
I started out in fantasy. I wrote adult fantasy and adult historical romance with paranormal elements before I wrote YA contemporary. The Lady Rogue isn’t that much different than some of my earlier work, so in a way, it felt like a return to form for me. I enjoy writing anything with adventure and supernatural elements, and truth be told, I prefer writing historical over contemporary.
Oh wow that’s so cool!! we had no idea you started out doing that. *immediately goes on Waterstones and fills basket with all of your books*
The book reminded us all so much of Indiana Jones and The Mummy. Are you a fan of those? And how important was it for you to switch up the trope with a female lead?
Big fan of both, and yes, I was definitely paying homage. I love the adventure and humor in both of those, but being female and looking for female role models when I was younger, I always yearned for an Indiana Jane, so to speak. Evie from 1999’s The Mummy was the underrated hero of the movie, much better than Rick. (Though they’re great together.) Her fantastic *I AM A LIBRARIAN* speech inspired Theo’s drunken outburst at the camp in the woods after they run from the train.
The sense of adventure in The Lady Rogue was epic! We all think it’s absolutely MADE to be a film!!
I wish! The Mummy isn’t perfect but it’s great fun, I think. It does FUN well.
Yes it does and that’s what’s so great about this book. The real sense of a wild romp and FUN
In your acknowledgements you say it was originally based in China – how different was your original imagining of the lady rogue and how did you come to decide on Romania and Dracula?
When I first pitched this book to my publisher, I had written 50 pages or so that had the characters in China, escaping on a train bound for Moscow through Siberia. With them on board the train were the bones of a yeti-like creature that Theo’s father had unearthed, and the bones slowly melted and came back to life during the journey. I loved that concept.
In my past life before writing, I spent a lot of time traveling through China for business, so the story I was writing? It came from a place that I could see and understood. However…My publisher felt as though China was not marketable to readers in the West (sigh), and that the Yeti creature was too horror-esque.
They wanted me to tone down the supernatural/fantasy elements and move the story to a location that was more familiar to readers. Romania came out a brainstorming session, and from concept to writing, it was fast-tracked in a matter of weeks. I was sad about losing China, but in the end, I loved writing about Romania. So all’s well that ends well! 😊
Oh wow that’s incredible! And FYI, we would have totally read the China story!
Why did you decide to make this just a stand-alone?? We all loved the premise and we feel there is so much scope for there to be more stories!! Would you ever consider a second book or expanding it?
Well…I would LOVE TO! It wasn’t my decision. I pitched this as a multiple book series, with each story able to be read as a stand-alone.
However, my publisher only wanted to try one and see how it sold before committing to more. Because I’m their successful contemporary author, but switching things up is hard? In the meantime, they’ve bought more contemporary books from me, so when I’m done with my deadlines, I think we’ll take a look at The Lady Rogue and decide if it’s performed well enough.
I know it’s made its money back for the publisher, but I guess we have to see if the market is friendly for books like this. It’s a little different, yeah? Not quite other things on the shelf. But I did intend for there to be at least one more book to finish the character’s arcs.
We will ALL spread the word Jenn!!
One of our Book Club readers wanted to ask if you have traveled through Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania, because and we quote “she’s nailed so much of the feel about these countries!! I’d be so surprised if it’s all research”
Have I been to Romania: Though I’m American, I was born in Germany (father was US Army) and have traveled though quite a bit of Europe (France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Czech Republic), I have never traveled through Turkey, Bulgaria, or Romania!
I did a LOT of research, including reading history and travel books on the region, books about the Romani people. I watched documentaries and hours of travel videos. I tried to teach myself how to speak a few words in Romanian. I reached out to a couple of local Romanian cultural experts online who were so lovely and willing to answer my questions.
I basically immersed myself in All Things Romania for about three months while I was writing this, and honestly fell in love with the people and the country. They’ve been through some rough times, and it’s a beautiful land. It was like a crash course!
The sense of place and culture is incredible. The group member who asked the question is Bulgarian and was convinced you must have travelled there! Everything was so authentic!
Well, thank you! I tried very hard. I read so much, and spoke to several people. So I owe a lot to locals who were kind and willing to teach me their culture!
I think the level of effort absolutely shows and makes it what it is!
I think authors are natural sponges, too. We’re good at collecting information, and are able to paint a picture with it.
For the audiobook, Did you choose the narrator and how important accents were for you for the audio?
My publisher chose the narrator, but they tried very hard to be as authentic as they could. They sent me a list of about 50 words from the book that they couldn’t pronounce, and after double-checking with some locals, I recorded the words for them with the pronunciations and sent them back. So I’m sure they aren’t PERFECT, but we did try. It was important to me to respect the culture and language as much as possible, even though it was a work of fiction.
My husband was laughing at me when I was recording the words: Sighișoara. I’m so happy you liked the audiobook! They worked really hard on it!
We also LOVED the crosswords and ciphers…. so cool!!
Oh! I spent a lot of time on the ciphers, too. They are all real. And they changed a little, when the pilot changed, so I had to fix them. My editor and I spent a lot of time working them out together. NERDS!
The little crossword clues throughout were amazing!! White Flag was a big favourite!
Could we ask why we don’t get that hash out/closure about Theo and Huck with fox? She seems to forgive him easily and he doesn’t get the explosive dressing down we expected!!
Theo forgiving her father? Interesting that a fair amount of people thought she should have been angrier with him. I think that’s a fair point. In my head at the time, this wasn’t a stand-alone book, so I intended the conflict between the three of them to continue and be resolved in the next book.
My editor’s guidance was to let the plot of this story be stand-alone, but the conflict of the characters could continue to the next book. Honestly, I think I’ll be able to write another. But right now, I’ve got to deliver two more contemporary books first! Haha!
We just want to say thank you so much for taking the time to come and speak to us! We actually ran out of questions cos we thought we’d only get through one or two, so we are super grateful you stayed for us!
Thank you too for providing such amazing answers to our questions. We certainly got a lot more insight than I expected!! And good luck with Chasing Lucky! It sounds amazing and a perfect summer read!
It has been my pleasure! Thank you so, so much for having me! You have all been so lovely! Thank you for reading my books and being wonderful. Stay safe and have hope!
We had such a blast talking to Jenn – Hands down our favourite Q&A so far! We learnt so much juicy info! – it was soooo worth it! We are so lucky to have these opportunities and find that everyone has such a great time chatting about these incredible books, authors included!
Hope you guys have loved this! What would you have asked her if you could? Are you surprised by any of the answers?
Lots of love,
Kayleigh & Tish xx