Hi Jenna, and welcome to Fast Forward Friday! Your debut middle grade book, BONE TREE, comes out on April 1st with Blue Bronco Books. Can you please tell us what it’s about?
Thank you for having me! BONE TREE is about two best friends, a too-early death, and the journey the two go on to keep their friendship alive. Throw in a spooky cemetery, a creeptastic ghost, and an adventure or two and you’ve got BONE TREE.
Your story will appeal to readers who enjoy creepy, ghostly, and magical reads. Did you enjoy these kinds of stories as a kid, and where did the inspiration from this story come from?
I can still remember the exact row that held the scary stories in my childhood library. I’d beeline it there every day and read the thoroughly broken in copy of SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK. I was first on the reservation list for every new RL Stine and Christopher Pike book.
The inspiration came from my late father-in-law’s passing. I remember sitting there wishing there was somewhere I could go to talk to him, even if it was just for a moment or two. I’ve always loved woods so the story just grew from there.
I loved the fast pace and short chapters that make this book accessible to a wide range of readers. Was that an intentional part of your writing process, or how the story unfolded as you wrote.
I write fairly bare bones and snappy, so short chapters come with the territory. For projects with older audiences it was always an issue, so this was the first time I could just let the story unfold at my pace without having to juice it up afterward.
Elsie has to learn how to deal with the loss of a loved one under unique circumstances. Can you tell us what you most admire about her?
I love how unyielding she is. No matter what issues come her way, she’s always facing them head on. She meets people along the way that help – we all need a bit of help now and again – and I love that she’s not too proud to accept it. She’s brave even when she doesn’t want to be.
I loved the spooky idea of the bone tree. How did that element come to be?
I’ve always loved how old and just connected trees are to the earth. Some of them seem like they have their own souls. The idea for Mary to be buried under the tree happened first, and the magical elements of the curse spawned out from there.
I think many of us are fascinated by the concept of life after death, and wish we could see loved ones again after they’re gone. If you could visit with one famous person who has died, who would it be, and what would you ask them?
Oh man – this is a hard one to narrow down! I have to go with Amelia Earhart. I’d just want to know what happened and if she was at peace.
Are you working on another writing project at the moment?
I am in the middle of the most trying revision of my life. It’s a middle grade horror about a girl who hunts monsters, her missing father, and her little town with far too many secrets.
Where can our readers go to find out more about you and your writing?
You can find me on Twitter @jenna_lehne, IG with the same name, and www.jennalehne.com
I’m so glad we had some time to talk today, Jenna, and I wish you all the best with BONE TREE’s release in April.
Thank you so much for having me!!
Jenna Lehne is a tea-sipping, horror-loving mom of two boys, and a kitten named Lemons, in Calgary, Alberta. She’s a former Pitch Wars mentor, contributor on the blog MidnightSocietyTales.com, and her middle grade debut, BONE TREE, is out April 2021 from Blue Bronco Books.