Can you tell us a little about your book? Is it your debut novel?
The Serpent King is a coming-of-age story set in rural Tennessee. It follows the son of a disgraced snakehandling preacher, his nationally known fashion blogger friend, and his other fantasy nerd friend as they try to survive their senior year of high school with their spirits intact before they part ways.
It’s not the first novel I’ve ever written, but it is my first published novel.
Are you a plotter or a free writer?
I’m a little of both. I definitely know how a story ends before I start writing and I know most of how I’m going to get there. But I pants it to fill in the gaps. One thing I do that may be a little strange is before I start writing, I’ll invite my characters into my head for a “residency.” For months I’ll eavesdrop on the conversations they have while I’m out for walks or daydreaming. When I feel like I know them well enough for them to tell me their story instead of vice versa, I start writing.
Is your book part of a series or a standalone?
It’s a standalone, although it does take place in the same world as my second book, Goodbye Days (that title could change) and there is a cameo by a Serpent King character in Goodbye Days (that could also change).
Do you require silence when writing or do you listen to music?
I don’t require silence when I write, which is a good thing, because I wrote most of The Serpent King on the bus, to and from work. I don’t generally listen to music with lyrics when I write, but I’ll listen to instrumental music occasionally.
Are you writing your next book? Can you share a little about it?
Yes, I still haven’t finished revising and editing Goodbye Days. It’s about a young man coping with the aftermath of a car accident that he may have caused, and which killed his three best friends. He embarks on a series of “goodbye days” with the families of his friends, in which they try to do what they would have done with one last day together.
How long were you writing before getting a publishing contract?
I first started writing in December 2012, and I got my publishing contract in June 2014.
When does your book release?
March 8, 2016.
Jeff Zentner is a singer-songwriter and guitarist who has recorded with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, and Debbie Harry. In addition to writing and recording his own music, Zentner works with young musicians at Tennessee Teen Rock Camp, which inspired him to write for young adults. He lives in Nashville with his wife and son.