Jennifer Swanson is a children's author and her debut picture story is Penny & Rio: The Mysterious Backyard Meeting. Based on the author's once beloved dogs, Penny and Rio are complete opposite canines. After moving into the new home, curious Penny wants to find out what kind of meeting some animals are having in the backyard. But will Rio help her crack the mystery or prefers to sleep instead?
Today I give you a quick interview with Jennifer and her work! If you would like to learn more about her or her books, check at www.pennyandrio.com.
First, what inspired you to write Penny & Rio: The Mysterious Backyard Meeting?
I actually wrote this book for a writing course I was taking at the time. I love mysteries and dogs, so it seemed like a great match. I used the hilarious antics of my own dogs, Penny and Rio, as the basis for the book, added a mystery and voila, I had a book.
What was the easiest part of writing it?
Writing about the dogs. I could pull from the funny things they had done in their lives. At one point, the real Penny dug out 3 foot tall flower planter and used to sit in it with only her head poking out. Naturally, I had to put that in the story. It was just too cute!
Sounds very cute indeed! And what was the hardest part?
Figuring out the mystery is the toughest part for me. I have written several mysteries and I never know how it's going to work out until right at the last minute. I can have the whole plot to the story outlined and I'll leave spots for "find something here" or "another clue". Then it some times takes me days or weeks to figure out what goes there. Kind of crazy, but that's how I do it.
Did you work with a general idea and go with it or did you figure out the entire plot beforehand?
As I said above, I can usually figure out the plot pretty quickly. It comes together in a couple of days, but adding the specifics some times takes me longer.
Do you have any projects you are working on right now or later in the future?
I am in the final edits of the second Penny and Rio book. It will be released in August of 2009. The title is Penny and Rio: The Locked Doghouse Mystery. In this book, Penny and Rio meet Hobbes, a Great Dane, and also Squeaky the mouse. They have to help Squeaky recover his lost treasure. I have also recently completed a mid-grade novel- also a mystery. This one involves four girls and outlines the ups and downs of their friendship and also gives them a big mystery to solve.
Maybe one day.. I've heard that every writer has a voice in their head reflective of their characters. Well, my "voice" is between 9- 12 years old, so I don't think I'll write for young adults any time soon. But maybe when my "voice" grows up. (Of course, I guess that means that my voice is also that of a dog, too. I wonder a little about that).
What are you reading at the moment?
I just discovered Rick Riordan's books about Percy Jackson and the Olympians. What a great series! I also love to read mysteries, so I just finished Anne Perry's Execution Dock.
Do you have any last words?
Thanks for this opportunity to speak with you.
And thank you, Jennifer!