One of us lives on the east coast. One of us lives on the west.

One of us lives in a rural community. One of us lives in a city.

Both of us wander. Both of us witness. Both of us write.

This is a record of what we find.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Guest Post: Jenny Ziegler and her new novel Sass & Serendipity

We are thrilled that Jenny Ziegler, friend and Tam's agent-mate, has come on over to share her new novel Sass & Serendipity's rich landscape with us!  Sass & Serendipity comes out into the world on July 12, 2011.

KTE: Welcome Jenny!  What is one landscape that inspired, or is featured in, Sass & Serendipity?

Jenny: The book is about two sisters growing up in Barton, Texas.  The town is fictional, but the environment, the South Texas Plains and brush country, is very real.  I love the wild, tough, scrubby beauty of the region – hot and humid, crisscrossed by arroyos and streams, and blanketed with thorny bushes, cacti, grasses and hardy wildflowers.  There’s something about the untamed land and steamy heat that make it the perfect setting for one sister’s scorn and the other’s heady, romantic notions.

KTE: Can you share an excerpt from the book that shows this wild land and heat?

Jenny: Sure!  Here’s a descriptive passage from Sass & Serendipity:

As they crossed the small footbridge over Chandler Creek, she caught sight of their dim reflection in the water below. There they were. The two of them. Side by side. Her big mass of dark tresses and red T-shirt, and his russet-colored hair and green button-down. The images were all wavy, almost dreamlike. Daphne hadn’t even realized she was smiling until she saw her white teeth shining back at her on the rippling surface.

Luke stopped, rested his forearms on the wooden rail of the bridge, and gazed upstream. “Wow. This place is so cool,” he said, gesturing toward the water, the live oaks on the shore, and the cluster of nineteenth-century storefronts on the street beyond. “Small but nice.”

“It is,” Daphne agreed. She’d never fully appreciated how special her town was, but Luke was right. For some reason, it seemed extra pretty right now. She loved how patches of light danced on the ripples below and the way the live oaks bowed reverently toward the water. Beyond the trees she could see the very tops of Main Street’s buildings, with their dates of completion etched below their curvy rooflines. 1898. 1901. 1903. The smell of brisket from Hawthorne’s Barbecue comingled with the scents of caliche and pecan buds and fresh grackle poop. There was even a sound track of local noise to go with the postcard-pretty scene: the trickling of the creek in its limestone bed, the whir of unseen cicadas, and the creaking of the weather vane atop the old, restored Grayson house, now used for the Chamber of Commerce.

KTE: Wow...that is gorgeous.  It is clear how vibrant that landscape is in your mind.  How important it is to you.
Jenny: I have family all over South Texas.  In fact, my lineage there goes back about three or four generations.  My grandparents’ families picked cotton and other crops, and my great-grandfather was the local curandero, or “healer,” in the town of Sinton.  So not only did I want this backdrop for my characters, I wanted it as a tribute to my family and culture, as well. 
Jennifer Ziegler is a YA novelist, speaker, and former English teacher.  Her novel How Not to Be Popular (Delacorte/Random House, 2008) was an International Reading Association’s Young Adults’ Choice, a Lone Star Reading List selection, and an ALA Best Books for Young Adults nominee.  Her next novel, Sass and Serendipity (Delacorte/Random House, 2011), gives Jane Austen a small-town Texas spin.  You can find Jenny at


  1. Thanks Jen and Tam. When place becomes character, the story becomes much more rich, resonant AND entertaining. I can't wait to read SASS.

  2. Hi Jennifer, we are new to your blog, but enjoyed the interview very much. It was by chance we found you, as one of our good networking friends has the same exact name as you minus the (l) so...
    The excerpt from your book, left us with vivid images of a beautiful southern town, much like the one we grew up in, Northern Florida. Both of us at the same time looked at each other and immediately began typing the book into our "To-Read-List". We look forward to stopping by your blog and reading your book and best of luck to you.