I’m talking to author Jennifer Sienes today about her latest release Night Songs.
Welcome, Jennifer. It’s a pleasure to interview you again,
Q: Do you have an author hero? If so, who and why this person?
A: This is a difficult question to answer because there are so many wonderful authors, both living and past, who have given us literary gifts. But one author who has inspired my particular writing style is Jodi Picoult. Every one of her novels is unique, beautifully written, and educational as well as entertaining. She does not write for the Christian market, and there have been a couple of her books that I did not read because of the subject matter. However, I love that she is not afraid to delve into difficult topics, and she does so with incredible talent.
Q: What genre do you write, and why?
A: When I first dreamt of becoming a writer, I thought I’d write romance. Who doesn’t love romance? But by the time I was given the opportunity to put feet to my faith and follow that dream, I had gone through such a harrowing season of loss and grief, God made it clear that I was to use it to offer hope and glorify Him. For this reason, I’ve been writing women’s contemporary fiction. Once I’ve completed the Bedford County Series, however, I plan on moving into romantic suspense. It will be a fun change as well as challenging.
Q: Is there a genre you read but don’t see yourself writing?
A: Great question! I love reading historical fiction/romance. I taught middle school for years, and have quite a connection with U.S. history, so it intrigues me to read it. But I also know how much work goes into the research, so I never thought I’d write it. However, my publisher has included me in a castle Christmas collection, and I dipped my toes into the world of penning historical fiction for the first time. But for the most part, I plan on sticking with contemporary—unless God says otherwise.
Q: If you are a multi-published author, which book was the hardest to write? Why?
A: Although Providence was the last full-length novel in my Apple Hill Series to be published, it was actually the first one I wrote. It was inspired by my Christian brother’s suicide, and the first draft was very dark because that loss was so difficult for me. I rewrote it twice for a total of three full drafts as the Lord healed my heart. What came out of that was a story woven with hope, humor, and the grace of Jesus Christ. It was well worth the years it took for me to bring it to fruition.
Q: Are you at work on a new novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
A: I am always at work on a new novel. My second series (Bedford County) will be launched with the first novel, Night Songs. Unlike the Apple Hill Series, which took place in Northern California, the Bedford County Series is set in middle Tennessee. I love this new series, possibly because I love Tennessee. It’s fun and challenging to delve into a different setting. I am putting the finishing touches on Book 2, Shadow Dancing. This is a story about Rebekah and Mitch Casey who have suffered such a profound loss, their marriage may be collateral damage. I hope that readers will fall in love with these characters as much as I have. The takeaway message is that our sovereign Lord has a plan and purpose so far beyond what we can imagine, there is always hope even in the midst of our darkest seasons.
About the Book
Book: Night Songs
Author: Jennifer Sienes
Genre: Women’s Christian Fiction/ Romance
Release date: April 12, 2022
What’s a girl to do when her life sounds ripped from the lyrics of a country music song?
Charlotte Van Cleave’s hissy-fit reaction to her husband’s infidelity sours her world like a pot of boiled chitlins. She’s left with no husband, no job, and no home—well, besides the dilapidated farmhouse inherited from her nana.
But Charlie learned early that southern girls dig deep when things go sideways. She’d climbed out of the mire when her missionary parents were killed in Congo, endured two late-term miscarriages, and survived the death of her nana and papaw. Too poor to paint and too proud to whitewash, Charlie follows a new path with her interior design skills.
Derek Daniels spent his life serving his country until a helicopter accident ended his military career. Now back home on the family farm, he’s stuck between his philandering brother, Nicky, and the only girl he’s ever loved—sweet Charlie Van Cleave. Unwilling to cross a line, he vows to keep his feelings to himself. Easier said than done when Charlie discovers a mystery surrounding her parents’ death and asks him to help investigate.
What’ll Charlie and Derek have to do to turn those lyrics into a country hit?
About the Author
Jennifer Sienes holds a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in education, but discovered life-experience is the best teacher. She loves Jesus, romance and writing—and puts it altogether in inspirational contemporary fiction. Her daughter’s TBI and brother’s suicide inspired two of her three novels. Although fiction writing is her real love, she’s had several non-fiction pieces published in anthologies including several in Chicken Soup for the Soul. She has two grown children and one very spoiled Maltese. California born and raised, she recently took a step of faith with her real-life hero and relocated to Tennessee.
More from Jennifer
I love everything about the South. The seasons are more vibrant, the pace is slower, and the hospitality warmer than what I’ve previously experienced. I wasn’t born and raised here, but I’ve always felt an affinity for it. When my husband and I relocated from Northern California to middle Tennessee over three years ago, I was happier than ol’ Blue layin’ on the porch chewin’ on a big ol’ catfish head. Yes, there are times we need a translator, but we’re quick studies.
Setting is an important element of storytelling, whether it’s fictional or true. I will be the first person to tell you, I don’t have much imagination. I don’t read or write fantasy or sci-fi because I can’t picture myself in the story. I am in awe of writers who are able to create an alternate world in their minds and then share it in a story. Me? I need to see it to write it.
For that reason, I was very excited about how this move from the only place I’ve ever known to one I’d dreamt about most of my life would impact my novels and novellas. We landed here in the middle of July to magnolia trees with waxy leaves as big as my head and sweet-smelling white blossoms I couldn’t enclose in both hands. Mockingbirds chattering all hours of the day (and a lone guy at night), bright red cardinals flitting from tree to tree, and even an armadillo or two lumbering across our yard.
The character of Charlotte Van Cleave (Charlie) was born out of my imagination. Why I can create fake people but not fake settings is anyone’s guess. Her nana and pawpaw’s dilapidated farmhouse is a real home that had been abandoned outside the city limits of Shelbyville, Tennessee—in Bedford County, which is also the title of the series. I saw the house through a real estate website, and fortunately for me, it was empty. My husband and I snuck around the perimeter looking through broken widows to get a feel for the place. It didn’t hurt that there were several photos on the website, as well.
The rest of the story came in fits and starts. I first decided on Charlie’s personality, because if I know that, it’s easier to trip her up with all manner of chaos. If you’re familiar with the enneagram personality indicator, she’s a three—the Achiever. The other main character, Derek Daniels, is a six—the Loyalist. Throw in missionary parents, sibling rivalry, and southern culture and a story was born.
While I was working on Night Songs the mockingbirds were particularly active. They’re the Tennessee state bird, so they’re always around, but it’s only during the mating season they are vocal. I was lying awake in the middle of the night, and I heard one of them singing. I’d only ever heard them during the day, so I was surprised. Why would a lone mockingbird be singing at night? What I learned after a little research is that only those who are mate-less will do this. It made me sad to hear the little guy over the next several nights, pouring out his heart. Not unlike Charlie Van Cleave. Thus, a title was born.
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Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 17
Daysong Reflections, May 18
Genesis 5020, May 19
Texas Book-aholic, May 20
Inklings and notions, May 21
Susan K. Beatty, Author, May 22 (Author Interview)
For Him and My Family, May 22
deb’s Book Review, May 23
Locks, Hooks and Books, May 24
Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, May 25
Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, May 26
Miriam Jacob, May 26
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, May 27
Happily Managing a Household of Boys, May 28
Back Porch Reads, May 29
To celebrate her tour, Jennifer is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card & a copy of the book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
Bea LaRocca says
Thank you for sharing the author interview and book details, I have enjoyed reading this post and am looking forward to reading Night Songs, it sounds like a wonderful story
Susan Beatty says
I’m so glad you enjoyed this interview with Jennifer, and hope you enjoy reading Night Songs as much as I did. Thank you for commenting.
Roxanne C. says
This is an enlightening experience interview, and I appreciate Jennifer’s openness about her difficulties that have influenced her writing.
Susan Beatty says
I’m happy you enjoyed this interview with Jennifer. Her life experiences have resulted in her great storytelling. Thanks for commenting.