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Intersection: From Songwriting To Novel Writing- A Conversation With Jeff Zentner

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Photo courtesy of Jeff Zentner

When Jeff Zentner realized that he wasn’t going to have the musical career he’d dreamed of, he switched from song writing to novel writing. Zentner is an award winning author of Young Adult fiction.

His novels include The Serpent King and Goodbye Days, and his latest book Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee is due out next year.

Zentner released several albums as a musician and recorded with the likes of Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry and Nick Cave. He says letting go of his musical aspirations was tough.

“It was very frightening,” says Zentner.

“But what I will say, is having worked hard at music and having not accomplished perhaps what I thought I would at the outset of my musical journey, what it gave to me was a lack of fear of failure,” he says.

While volunteering at the Tennessee Teen Rock Camp and Southern Girls Rock Camp, Zentner says he fell in love with writing fiction for young adults.

“Specifically the way young adults love the art that they love, and make it part of their identity and the way they relate to the world.”

Zentner says he has to balance writing with a full time job as a prosecutor with the state of Tennessee.

“The bus is my salvation,” says Zentner.

“Every day I have a 35 minute bus ride to work and a 35 minute bus road home. And what I do in that 70 minutes is I just write furiously. And I when I get home from work, I leave my phone at home and I go for a walk for an hour and I think about where I’m going to go the next day,” he says.

Zentner leads a writing workshop for teens in Orlando on March 7th.


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Matthew Peddie

About Matthew Peddie

Host of WMFE's Intersection & Assistant News Director

Matthew Peddie grew up in New Zealand and studied journalism at the University of Western Ontario. After graduating with an MA in Journalism he returned to Christchurch, working as a reporter for Radio Live and Radio New Zealand. He’s reported live from the scene of earthquakes, criminal trials and rugby ... Read Full Bio »