Author Nadia King’s novel, Jenna’s Truth is a gripping story about the consequences of bullying. I chatted with Nadia about the book, her motivations, and her hopes for the future. In this age of conformity, Nadia and her writing are a unique and uplifting breath of fresh air. So grab a cup of coffee, cozy up, and prepare to be inspired. Oh, and grab a copy of Jenna’s Truth. You won’t regret it.
• You say that Amanda Todd’s bullying story inspired Jenna’s Truth. What life do you envision for this book? In what ways do you hope it will impact readers?
My greatest hope for Jenna’s Truth is that it will touch a few teens, spark them to question themselves; if they have bullied others to really think about the impact of their actions and likewise if they have been a victim, to not be defined by that process. The book is currently taught in a few schools but I would love to see it taught in many more.
• What other places did you draw inspiration for the story?
The teens in my world inspired me – their fears of being social outcasts and of not fitting in. I drew on my own experiences too; as a mixed-race child growing up in London I was so different to many of the kids I knew. When I was 11, my family and I migrated to Australia where I finally attained the label of English girl only to realise I was yet again on the outside. When I did reach my teens I was used to being different and it no longer bothered me. I wanted to dance to my own tune and I wanted to somehow convey that in the book. Don’t be afraid to be different; don’t be afraid to be the real you.
• What was the most difficult thing about writing Jenna’s Truth?
I found the book technically challenging as I was ultimately writing for the classroom. The story needed to be brief to fit within a lesson period and yet also engage deeply with readers. I found it difficult to write a realistic attempted suicide and yet leave out enough details so it wasn’t a how-to.
• What was the most rewarding part of the process for you?
So far, the most thrilling part of my writing journey has been to sit in on a drama class and observe how a class of 15 year-olds engage with the narrative. My publisher and I are currently in talks with a view to adapting Jenna’s Truth for the stage. To think I may one day watch a theatrical production of Jenna’s Truth is seriously mind-blowing.
• If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Don’t stop. As writers we serve such a long apprenticeship to our craft and I regret not writing for so many years. My saving grace was my absolute addiction to reading. Thankfully, I need to read the same way I need to breathe.
• How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
It’s given me more confidence but there is still so much more to learn. I think as writers we never stop learning and that’s probably a good thing. Recently, I’ve realised that writing isn’t a solitary exercise; we need each other if our work is to really hit the mark.
• What does literary success look like to you?
I suspect my aspirations are larger than any skill, or talent I may possess. I may feel a level of professional satisfaction when I am invited to sit on panels for writers festivals and when I have gained enough skills that I can share in my knowledge in the classroom with other writers. The danger with literary success is that we will always be judged on our latest piece of work and we ourselves will judge our abilities by the state of our current works. I fear that any such success is elusive and probably unattainable.
• What are you working on right now?
I am in the final stages of finishing a short romance for an anthology and just about to pick up the manuscript for my second book with a working title of Sam and Ranga. It’s in dire need of massive structural edits and probably a hundred more rewrites. But I’m looking forward to immersing myself in the life of a 10-year-old who watches their best friend spiral out of control.
Australian author, Nadia L King, was born in Dublin, Ireland. She has a background in journalism and media relations, and has written for magazines in Europe and the US. She reads voraciously and enthusiastically, and inhales books the same way her Labrador inhales her dog biscuits. Nadia is an overexcited person who adores words, loves writing short stories and keeps a blog at nadialking.wordpress.com. Her writing has been described as “raw, real and heart-wrenching.” Her first book, Jenna’s Truth, is published by Aulexic and is a powerful tool to arm teens against bullying. Nadia lives near the Swan River in Western Australia.