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 and Goodbye Days. He has won the William C. Morris Award, Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award, International Literacy Association Award, Westchester Fiction Award, been longlisted for the Carnegie Medal and UKLA, and was a finalist for the Southern Book Prize and Indies Choice Award. He was a Publishers Weekly Flying Start and an Indies Introduce pick. Before becoming a writer, he was a musician who recorded with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, and Debbie Harry. He lives in Nashville with his wife and son. You can follow him on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter at @jeffzentner.

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
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 was born and raised in Miles City, Montana. She has an MFA in fiction from the University of Montana and a PhD in creative writing from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she's worked as the assistant... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Serpent King

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

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