Jenna Zark

Aurora talks to Jenna Zark

• What inspires you to write? What does your writing space look like?

For me, writing comes out of a deeply emotional place where I am moved to take action of some sort – and the form it always takes for me is writing. I see life as a story that unfolds little by little, ricocheting between dark and light, between days that are hardly bearable to days that shine and that feel like you are holding the world in your hands.

My writing space needs a better desk – but it does look out through a window at my back yard, which is bordered by woods, and a tiny little playhouse that used to belong to the past house’s children. I am intrigued by this little house and want to know more about what happened inside. It’s the kind of house that Ruby, the lead character in the Beat Street Series, would never have seen. She lives in Greenwich Village in 1958 and there were no playhouses there. But I wonder what she would have made of it?

Playhouses are, in my view, where children keep their secrets. I’m going to stop writing because now I’m thinking about a story. I guess that means… I can be inspired by almost anything?

• Please tell us a little about your books.

The Beat Street series is set in 1958, a time of tumultuous change, artistic exploration, and the beginning of a political and social movement by what is now known as the Beat Generation.

The main character is Ruby Tabeata, who is growing up in this world.

In The Beat on Ruby’s Street, Ruby is eleven years old, soon to be twelve. She is the opposite of a 1950s stereotype: fierce, funny and strong-willed. Ruby dreams of meeting famous poets while becoming one herself; instead, she’s accused of trying to steal from a local vendor and is forced to live in a children’s home. Join Ruby as she finds unexpected friendships, the courage to rebel against unjust authority and the healing power of art.

In book two, Fools Errand, Ruby’s best friend Sophie goes missing, At that point, Ruby has a choice: wait for her friend to come home or defy her parents and find Sophie. Set during the 1950s Blacklist era when writers like Sophie’s mom were being jailed or fired, Fools Errand sends Ruby out of her city and her comfort zone. With nothing to rely on but her grit and determination, Ruby has to outsmart the men chasing Sophie and her mom—discovering that whether or not you succeed, trying to save a friend is never a fool’s errand.

• What do you like to do to unwind?

I love walking around my neighborhood – if I can listen to music at the same time, all the better. I also love movies, theater, spending time with friends and family time, and most of all, travel – which I never get to do enough (but hope to… at some point).

• What would be your message to your readers?

I just want to thank readers for picking up a copy of either The Beat on Rubys Street, Fools Errand, or both. I also want to thank you for sharing your own journeys with me, or thoughts about the books, and for being willing to go along with writers on their journeys. Hopefully, the stories and novels you read resonate with your own lives too.

Follow Jenna on her website and check out her books below: