Let’s start on November with an Interview with Author Jenn Bennet for her upcoming book, The Anatomical Shape of a Heart!
Tell us about your book, The Anatomical Shape of A Heart, in one sentence.
Two wildly different artistic teens meet on a night bus in San Francisco, change each others’ lives, and fall in love.
Aside from the plot, I’m also very curious about the book’s title. How did you come up with it? (Both US: TASOAH and UK: Night Owls titles)
My original title was Night Owls, the UK and international title, is a nod to the late-night Owl buses in San Francisco. Beatrix and Jack are both sneaking around at night for the sake of their artwork: She loves anatomy and wants to draw cadavers in the university hospital’s Willed Body lab, and Jack is a graffiti artist. My U.S. publisher decided to change the title to reflect Beatrix’s art; my editor came up with it. I like both titles!
Since TASOAH is your debut novel in the YA demographic, what were the changes you’ve experienced in its writing process compared to writing your prior books?
It actually started as a much different book, a story set in a futuristic San Francisco. But I wrote one chapter—a quiet scene in a museum cafe with the protagonist, her mother, and her brother—and everything shifted inside my head. My literary agent had been encouraging me to try my hand at YA contemporary, because she thought I had the voice for it, but I wasn’t confident enough until I wrote that scene. After that, the book was a complete joy to write. It felt so right…almost too right, actually, so naturally I was suspicious that I’d screwed it all up. I guess I hadn’t!
Introduce Beatrix and Jack to the readers.
Beatrix—known to her friends and family as Bex—is intensely focused, has a dry wit, and is artistically talented. Her obsession is anatomy: She loves bones, muscles, veins, and eyeballs. She’s a little odd, and sort of a loner. Her mom, Katherine the Great, is a night-shift nurse, and they live in a tiny Edwardian row house with Bex’s college-dropout gay brother Heath. Bex meets Jack one night on her way home from the hospital where Bex’s mom works. Jack is charming and swoony and handsome (duh), and he’s wanted by the police for spray-painting gold words across San Francisco. But Bex discovers other wonderful things about him that completely contradict his criminal leanings. You’ll need to read to discover what those things are…
Name a character from TASOAH that you can relate to the most and tell us how you are similar to that character.
Probably Bex. Though I’m not scientifically inclined like she is, I’ve got her drive and focus. Bex feels like her world has gone a little dark since her father exited the picture, but she keeps moving ahead, eyes trained on her goal. Having a writing career often can feel that way. Success is elusive, and you never know if your next book will fail or succeed. It’s all a huge risk, and all you can do is believe in yourself and keep trying. So in that way, I understand Bex completely.
Who/what inspired you to write a story like TASOAH?
No person in particular. As I’d said previously, this book started out as a very different story. But once I made the decision to write it as contemporary romance, I just naturally gravitated toward writing about two artists. (I’m an artist, so write what you know!)
What is something you’ve learned in writing your debut YA novel?
That YA readers are some of the kindest, most enthusiastic readers on the planet. My book was released in the U.K./Australia first, so I’ve already gotten fan mail, tweets, comments, photos, and even reader art (my favorite!) about the book. And all of it has brought me to tears—happy ones! I’m overwhelmed and humbled by reader response to Jack and Bex’s story.
What are you most excited about in your book’s (North American Edition) release day?
It’s taken two years for this book to be released in North America, which is a seriously bleepity-bleep long time to wait. So mostly I’ll just be relieved that it’s finally out. In fact, if you listen really hard on November 3rd, you might hear me shout, “HOLY CRAP, IT’S REALLY OUT. THANK YOU, SWEET BABY THOR!”
Jenn Bennett is the author of The Arcadia Bell urban fantasy series with Pocket and The Roaring 20’s Historical paranormal romance series with Berkeley. She lives near Atlanta with one husband and two pugs.
Artist Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she’s spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci’s footsteps, she’s ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital’s Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.