Author Chat with Kelly Jensen (Body Talk: 37 Voices Explore Our Radical Anatomy) Plus Giveaway! ~ (US Only)
Today we're excited to chat with Kelly Jensen author of
Body Talk: 37 Voices Explore Our Radical Anatomy.
Read on for more about Kelly and her book, plus a giveaway!
Meet Kelly Jensen!
Kelly Jensen is a former librarian and current editor at Book Riot and her own popular book blog, Stacked. She's the editor of two highly-acclaimed YA anthologies, Here We Are: Feminism For The Real World and (Don't) Call Me Crazy: 33 Voices Start The Conversation About Mental Health. Her writing has been featured in Bust Magazine, Fortune, Bustle, and more. When not working with words, she teaches yoga, hangs out with a motley crew of pets, and enjoys all of the black licorice no one else wants. Follow her on Instagram @heykellyjensen and her website kellybjensen.com [kellybjensen.com].
Meet Body Talk: 37 Voices Explore Our Radical Anatomy!
It’s time to bare it all about bodies!
We all experience the world in a body, but we don’t usually take the time to explore what it really means to have and live within one. Just as every person has a unique personality, every person has a unique body, and every body tells its own story.
In Body Talk, thirty-seven writers, models, actors, musicians, and artists share essays, lists, comics, and illustrations—about everything from size and shape to scoliosis, from eating disorders to cancer, from sexuality and gender identity to the use of makeup as armor. Together, they contribute a broad variety of perspectives on what it’s like to live in their particular bodies—and how their bodies have helped to inform who they are and how they move through the world.
Come on in, turn the pages, and join the celebration of our diverse, miraculous, beautiful bodies!
~ Author Chat ~
- What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
I've always wanted to write a book about the body, since there are so few nonfiction books for teens that allow us to dive deep into how complex, intricate, and political existing in a human form really is. I think of it as the puberty book you wish you had that goes beyond the basics of reproductive systems -- that's in there -- and instead explores disability, living with scoliosis, what it means to be body/fat positive, and other big topics that don't get as much attention or space to be openly discussed.
- Which came first, the title or the collection?
I'm pretty sure my agent was embarrassed for me by the initial title I came up with the collection (I'm only kind of kidding, but her reasoning was very fair in what the scope of the book was). But I woke up one night in August 2018 with a burst of inspiration after thinking about and writing a handful of terrible proposals. The next morning, I sat down and put together the book title, concept, potential contributions, my essay, and the proposal in about two hours.
- Do you have a favorite writing snack?
I like to work at a local coffee shop and reach for either a matcha tea latte or a rose gold latte.
- Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
It's the same thing I think I learn in anything I do: take the risk. The worst thing that happens is you hear no, but the best thing that happens is you succeed.
- What do you like most about the cover of the book?
I'm obsessed with the cover! Kelly Bastow has been one of my favorite illustrators for a long time because her body art represents just how varied and incredible the human form can take. The fact she illustrated the cover, filling it with joyful bodies of all shapes, sizes, and abilities really speaks to what the book is about.
- What’s on your TBR pile?
I'm looking forward to Anica Mrosi Nissi's Nobody Knows But You, since I loved her first YA novel; Ben Phillippe's Charming as a Verb because he writes some of my favorite humor in YA right now; and Nina LaCours Watch Over Me, because her writing is among my very, very favorite.
- What’s a book you’ve recently read and loved?
We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry is one of my 2020 favorites! It follows the (fictional) 1989 Danvers High School Girls Field Hockey team which has always been terrible, but when away at sports camp, the team realizes they can harness their witch-like powers via an image of Emilio Estavez and suddenly...they're really, really good. It is the definition of a romp of a read and just thinking about it brings me joy.
- What’s up next for you?
I have nothing under contract, but when I find pockets of creativity among the fears and anxieties of the pandemic, I've been working on a YA historical horror novel in verse inspired by one of my favorite stories of teen girls who (potentially) pull a fast one on a number of Very Important Men.
- Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?
Honestly, Body Talk was a cake walk compared to my other anthologies, and for that I'm so grateful. Editing this was a true joy, and I loved the process start to finish.
- Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
Revising by miles. I'm someone who can sit on something I want to write for weeks or months in my head, and (I recognize this isn't normal) I usually push out a very clean first draft. A lot of times I turn in my work in that state since drafting is exhausting for me. When I get edits back, I can really fall in love with the process itself, rather than get tangled in the initial stages.
On the editing side of things: I love, love, love the individual relationships I get to make with each writer in this process. Sometimes we are one-and-done with edits. Other times, we work paragraph-by-paragraph to get the piece to a place where we're both happy. Getting to adapt to the needs and styles of other creators is satisfying.
- What would you say is your superpower?
Is it a superpower to always be obscenely early to any and every thing you do or is it a really weird personal flaw? In either case, it's that.
I'm also able to spot hawks all the time, sometimes minutes before anyone else even notices their presence. I have....hawk eyes.
- Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
Young at Heart Senior Pet Rescue! It's my local animal rescue that saves senior cats and dogs -- 8 years or older -- and gives them an incredible place to call home while they wait for their perfect family. I volunteer with them weekly and find it so therapeutic to chill with the kitties. I'm lucky enough to be a sanctuary home for one of those senior cats, meaning that because of his health, he gets to spend the rest of his golden years at my home, with my family and pets, living his best life with the organization's financial support. What a gift!
[Attached: a photo of me with one of the kitties at the center -- Jay is a 15-year-old tabby who loves draping over my shoulder out on the catio!]
By: Kelly Jensen
Publisher: Algonquin BYR
Release Date: August 18th, 2020
Four winners will receive a copy of Body Talk (Kelly Jensen) ~ (US Only)
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