Author Chat with Ena Jones (Six Feet Below Zero), Plus Giveaway! ~ (US Only)
Today we're excited to chat with Ena Jones author of
Six Feet Below Zero.
Read on for more about Ena, her book, plus an giveaway!
Meet Ena Jones!
Ena Jones is the author of Clayton Stone series, about which Kirkus Reviews raved "What really makes this take on the kid-turned-spy story special is that it has a heart." She grew up outside Washington, D.C. and now lives with her family in North Carolina, where she loves to cook a wide range of foods--including noodle casserole. Six Feet Below Zero is her newest middle grade novel. Visit her online at enajones.com [enajones.com].
Meet Six Feet Below Zero!
A dead body. A missing will. An evil relative. The good news is, Great Grammy has a plan. The bad news is, she's the dead body.
Rosie and Baker are hiding something. Something big. Their great grandmother made them promise to pretend she's alive until they find her missing will and get it in the right hands. The will protects the family house from their grandmother, Grim Hesper, who would sell it and ship Rosie and Baker off to separate boarding schools. They've already lost their parents and Great Grammy—they can't lose each other, too.
The siblings kick it into high gear to locate the will, keep their neighbors from prying, and safeguard the house. Rosie has no time to cope with her grief as disasters pop up around every carefully planned corner. She can't even bring herself to read her last-ever letter from Great Grammy. But the lies get bigger and bigger as Rosie and Baker try to convince everyone that their great grandmother is still around, and they'll need more than a six-month supply of frozen noodle casserole and mountains of toilet paper once their wicked grandmother shows up!
This unexpectedly touching read reminds us that families are weird and wonderful, even when they're missing their best parts. With humor, suspense, and a testament to loyalty, Ena Jones takes two brave kids on an unforgettable journey. Includes four recipes for Great Grammy's survival treats.
~ Author Chat ~
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write SIX FEET BELOW ZERO?
My husband’s grandmother was a very important part of his life growing up, and after we got married and began our family, we spent a lot of time visiting her. She was a wonderful woman, who always welcomed us with open arms, sticky buns in the oven, and a list of kid-friendly adventures to be had on her 10 acres just outside Washington, DC. Our children called her Great-Grammy, and I thought of her, and relived those special times, as I wrote SIX FEET BELOW ZERO.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
That’s easy. Although I love Rosie, Baker, Karleen, and Daisy, I must admit that Great-Grammy is my favorite character. She just has a way of looking at life and the world that I admire. When I grow up I want to be like her.
YABC: Which came first, the title, SIX FEET BELOW ZERO, or the novel?
In the very beginning I used a weird title, something like, Grammy’s crazy—Plus, She’s Dead. But when the story began to take shape, I wanted a better title and started brainstorming. I took out a huge piece of art paper and a bunch of colorful markers and put them on the kitchen counter. Every time I came up with a word that suited the story—everything from “snow” to “casseroles”—I wrote it down. It took at least a week to fill the paper! After that, I started a new page in my writing notebook and listed my favorite words in two columns. Then, I began playing with potential titles by putting my favorite words together in every way I could think of—I ended up with about 25. There were a couple of favorites, but I thought SIX FEET BELOW ZERO stood out as the best title, and my editor agreed!
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?
I love this question! I could write pages and pages on this subject, but one of the most important pieces of advice I received was this: When you finish a manuscript, and you’ve given it your very best at that point in time, put the manuscript aside and move on to another project. It’s so important to write the next book, because, especially when you’re first starting, every book teaches you something different. SIX FEET BELOW ZERO is my third published book, but it’s my 8th completed novel/manuscript (and I have many, many, unfinished manuscripts on my computer). So my mantra is: Keep going and keep learning.
YABC: Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to write?
After Great Grammy died, Rosie found an envelope with her name on it: a last letter from her great-grandmother. I knew that Rosie wasn’t ready to read the letter, and I certainly wasn’t ready to write the letter. The idea of it hung over me for weeks, maybe months. I think that when you write something important like that, something that pulls together all the emotions of a story, and really gets to the heart of why the story is important not only to you as the author, but why it’s important to the characters you love, the words spill out when they’re ready. One day I woke up, and I knew it was time. With the exception of a couple of words, the letter in the book is the same letter I wrote that morning. I remember my husband came home for lunch, and tears were still streaming down my face.
YABC: Which character gave you the most trouble when you were writing SIX FEET BELOW ZERO?
Another great question! Grim Hesper probably gave me the most trouble, because it’s not enough to have an evil character. You have to figure out why they are so evil. Just like in real life, when you’re mad at someone for doing bad things, it helps to understand the “why” behind the way they behave. Understanding people who don’t think or act the way you do is hard sometimes, but it’s one of the most important tools in the writer’s (or human’s) toolbox. That, and a great editor who points out the fact that readers need to understand your baddie-bad-bad character’s motivation. Grim Hesper can’t just be rotten for no reason.
YABC: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or revising?
It’s certainly easier when I have a full draft; a solid beginning, middle, and end. There’s much less stress, especially when I’m racing to beat a deadline. However, there’s also something magical about creating a new story and writing into the unknown. The most honest answer though, is, if I’m working under a deadline, I prefer to be revising.
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
Ha. I don’t know whether it’s a superpower or not, but as an author, I’m sort of a time-traveler and also the commander in chief of whatever world I’m creating. I can go back in time, to a past conversation, and tweak it so that it turns out the way I want. I can play with my characters’ minds, and urge them to do what I want them to do (or need them to do). It’s huge fun, but as with all superpowers, it’s also an enormous responsibility!
YABC: What advice would you give to new writers?
Actually, even if we don’t write books, we’re all writers, and we’ve been writers for a long time. What’s different is what we write, and for whom we write. So—whether we’re sending a text to a friend (or mom), posting an entry in a journal, writing an article for the school paper, an essay for an assignment, or attempting our first book manuscript—the first thing to recognize is that each time, the intended audience has different expectations.
We wouldn’t send our grandmothers and our best friends the same sort of text. The same is true every time you grab your pen or hit the keyboard. Each piece of writing, whether it’s a text, an email, or a story, has a distinct voice and a purpose, and is meant for a different type of reader. To a point, we do this naturally, but by paying attention we can begin to master control of both our voice and our purpose.
(See?? We’re ALL writers!)
So maybe ask yourself, Why am I writing and who am I writing for? What do I want to achieve? How do I want to sound? Friendly, poetic, OMG-cool, respectful, intelligent, or maybe grateful? Do I want to convince Mom to let me have a sleepover this weekend? Or do I want to show Ms. Harper that I understand everything there is to know about whales? Or, do I want to create a likeable character who desperately wants to be a detective but who is very, very bad at talking to people?
All the choices are yours. Whatever you do, keep writing!
Six Feet Below Zero
By: Ena Jones
Release Date: April 20th, 2021
Publisher: Holiday House
One winner will receive a copy of Six Feet Below Zero (Ena Jones) ~ (US Only)
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*