Friday, March 6, 2015

Jen Calonita Author Interview

Book Nerd Interview

Jen Calonita has interviewed everyone from Reese Witherspoon to Justin Timberlake, but the only person she’s ever wanted to trade places with is Disney’s Cinderella. When Jen isn’t plotting, she’s working on the sequel to FTRS in Merrick, New York, where she lives with her husband, two sons, and their Chihuahua named Captain Jack Sparrow. Visit Jen at

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Greatest Thing You Learned at School.

The more you read, the better you write. It took me a LONG time to realize this--I'm talking, after college and way into my writing career, but it's such a valuable lesson and I wish I'd listened to my teachers sooner. Every time I crack open a new book and see how a writer crafts a story, develops a new world, or creates a character I just want more and more of, I'm inspired. When I set out to write my first book, I read a lot of other young adult novels, but the series I loved the best was Meg Cabot's The Princess Diaries. The way Mia spoke in her diary and connected with readers is something I wanted badly for my main character, Kaitlin Burke in Secrets of My Hollywood Life. Seeing how Meg Cabot could turn a phrase and make me laugh inspired me to take bigger leaps of faith with my own characters.

Defining Moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer.

I know exactly when this happened-- It was second grade and Steven Kellogg had illustrated a book that I still have--and carry around to school visits. Steven came and showed us how to illustrate books and what it was like to be an author and an illustrator. Then he autographed my book. I was so in awe that he had a book that he was signing for others! I knew then and there that I wanted to write. I wasn't sure what I'd write, but I knew I wanted to write something that would inspire others the way he had inspired me.

What fiction most influenced your childhood and what effect did those stories have on FLUNKED?

I grew up on a healthy dose of Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume books. The Super Fudge books made me belly laugh and it's so much fun for me to watch my own boys read those books now. I loved to read anything that made me smile. I was not a kid who loved doom and gloom or anything spooky! As I got older I gravitated towards the Sweet Valley High books. My mom used to go crazy because I'd read a book a day and then be begging to go back to the bookstore for more! Strangely, I didn't love traditional fairy tales as a kid. I loved the Disney movie versions, of course, but when I watched them, I always wondered what happened to some of the villains after the movie was over. I've always believed in second chances. That idea slowly formed FLUNKED.

What's the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style?

I'd say it's easier to start out writing what you know. For me, I was an entertainment magazine editor who spent my days interviewing teen stars. Watching them live their lives in front of a camera inspired me to create Kaitlin Burke and the Secrets of My Hollywood Life series.

Is there such a thing as a formula for storytelling?

My editor, Aubrey, gave me this amazing formula when I was editing FLUNKED. She called it the hero's journey and it included all the roller coaster steps a wannabe hero takes from the time they start their adventure to when they complete it. I use it for every book I work on now and am constantly asking myself one question: What does my character most want and what does my character most fear?

Greatest Adventure?

I'd have to say parenthood. I have always been such a girlie girl. I was sure I'd have my own little princesses, but I have two young pirates! I wasn't sure what to do with them at first, but I soon realized how much fun boys can be. We're always sword fighting or having lightsaber battles, downloading the latest Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer or talking about Jurassic World. I've learned how to cradle a lacrosse stick and kick a soccer ball and do things I never did as a girlie girl. They teach me so much every single day.

Would you send a villain to do a hero's job? An exciting new twisted fairy tale series from award-winning author Jen Calonita.

Full of regret, Cinderella's wicked stepmother, Flora, has founded the Fairy Tale Reform School with the mission of turning the wicked and criminally mischievous into upstanding members of Enchantasia.

Impish, sassy 12-year-old Gilly has a history of petty theft and she's not too sorry about it. When she lifts a hair clip, she gets tossed in reform school-for at least three months. But when she meets fellow students Jax and Kayla, she learns there's more to this school than its sweet mission. There's a battle brewing and she starts to wonder: can a villian really change?

You can purchase Flunked at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you Jean and Sourcebooks for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Flunked by Jen Calonita.

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I'd want to live in Australia or London.

  2. Great question. Probably somewhere on the Mediterranean, maybe Greece or Turkey. Thanks

  3. I'd live on the Sunshine Coast, QLD Australia.

  4. I'd want to live in Germany or Norway.

  5. I would live in London. That city is amazing!! :)