Jeff Zentner biography

Author Biography  | Interview  | Books by this Author  | Readalikes

Jeff Zentner

Jeff Zentner

Jeff Zentner Biography

Jeff Zentner is the author of New York Times Notable Book The Serpent King, Goodbye Days, and Rayne & Delilah's Midnite Matinee. He has won the William C. Morris Award, the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award, the International Literacy Association Award, and the Westchester Fiction Award. He's a two-time Southern Book Prize finalist, been longlisted for the Carnegie Medal and UKLA, and was a finalist for the Indies Choice Award. He was selected as a Publishers Weekly Flying Start and an Indies Introduce pick. His books have been translated into fifteen languages. Before becoming a writer, he was a musician who recorded with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, and Debbie Harry. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

He came to writing through music, starting his creative life as a guitarist and eventually becoming a songwriter. He's released five albums and appeared on recordings with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Thurston Moore, Debbie Harry, Mark Lanegan, and Lydia Lunch, among others.

He became interested in writing for young adults after volunteering at the Tennessee Teen Rock Camp and Southern Girls Rock Camp. As a kid, his parents would take him to the library and drop him off, where he would read until closing time. He worked at various bookstores through high school and college.

He speaks fluent Portuguese, having lived in the Amazon region of Brazil for two years.

Jeff Zentner's website

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Interview

Jeff Zentner discusses his debut novel, The Serpent King.

Besides living in the South, what is it that draws you to writing in this setting?
The South makes a good setting for writing about kids who have to overcome the weight of their history and circumstances. As a place, the South is working to overcome its history. So to set such a story in that kind of environment gives you a setting whose struggles parallel those of the characters. Plus, the South has a ton of atmosphere that's fodder for descriptive writing.

The South, and Nashville and Forrestville specifically, is a character unto itself. It greatly influences the motivations behind the three main characters in the book. Can you explain what you aimed to capture about rural Southern living in your novel and why?
The rural South has this hazy, sad, rusty beauty that feels nostalgic even when you're experiencing it. I tried to capture that feeling in The Serpent King because it's not something you see in a great many YA books.

While Lydia, Travis, and Dill have all grown up in the same town, they come from very different circumstances and have disparate interests. What inspired each of the three characters, and what research did you do to help flesh them out and make them come to life?
Dill was ...

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Books by this Author

Books by Jeff Zentner at BookBrowse
In the Wild Light jacket Rayne & Delilah's Midnite Matinee jacket Goodbye Days jacket The Serpent King jacket
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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Jeff Zentner but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Garrard Conley

    Garrard Conley

    Garrard Conley's fiction and nonfiction can be found in The Common, The Madison Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. He has received scholarships from the Bread Loaf, Sewanee, and Elizabeth Kostova Foundation... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Serpent King

    Try:
    Boy Erased
    by Garrard Conley

  • Emily M. Danforth

    Emily M. Danforth

    Emily M. Danforth's debut (YA) novel, The Miseducation Of Cameron Post (2012) was named to numerous "best book" lists, translated into a half-dozen languages, and adapted into a Sundance award winning feature film of the same... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Serpent King

    Try:
    The Miseducation of Cameron Post
    by Emily M. Danforth

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View all 15 Readalikes

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