Monday, July 18, 2011

Blog Tour: Interview with Jennifer Ziegler, author of Sass & Serendipity!

In addition to my review of Sass and Serendipity, a fabulous contemporary that is now available, I also had the chance to ask Jennifer some questions. So without a further ado...

In your opinion, what are the top three reasons why teens (or even adults) should consider buying Sass & Serendipity the next time they see it in stores or online?

1.) Because it’s full of candy.
2.) It will imbue you with special powers, but only if you read to the end.
3.) I have a kiddo who’s starting to look at colleges.

Seriously, though, I think first of all, anyone who has a sister or brother will appreciate the complex dynamic between Daphne and Gabby. And even if they aren’t a sibling, they might find the dual perspectives enlightening. We each see life through our own little porthole not realizing that the view varies from window to window.

Secondly, they will relate to the search for a true definition of love – within family, between friends, or of the happy-ever-after kind.

And lastly, because it’s a fun read – full of likeable characters and funny dialogue and relevant situations.

Sass & Serendipity tells the story of Daphne and Gabby, two sisters, so would you mind sharing a little about them? In addition, if you could offer them any advice what would you say?

Daphne is a dreamer. She is bright, cheerful, optimistic, and aching to be loved. To others she might appear flighty and forgetful, but to her she’s simply focused on more important things – like finding a soul mate. Daphne feels like a loser next to her brilliant, beautiful sister, but she also wishes Gabby would ease up and giggle with her now and then.

Gabby, meanwhile, is very driven. She is responsible, hard-working, and intensely private. In fact, there is only one person she can open up to: her best friend Mule – but she’s even kept a few things from him. While Gabby puts a lot of pressure on herself to achieve and help out with the family finances, she also resents being the super reliable sister. She secretly wishes she could be as charming and happy-go-lucky as Daphne.

Advice? Wow, that’s a great question. I don’t think I could give them advice. Understanding them as well as I do, I know that any suggestions from me would fall on deaf ears. As much as I’d like to tell Daphne to slow down and think before doing things, or tell Gabby to lighten up, I also realize that they have to figure such things out for themselves.

Sass & Serendipity is a modern day retelling of Sense and Sensibility, so what inspired you to retell that book specially rather than a different one by Jane Austen?

Sense and Sensibility struck a chord with me because of my relationship with my younger sister. I understood firsthand how Elinor and Marianne could be so different, yet so devoted to each other. I read Austen’s book for the first time as a teenager and was amazed that sisterhood during the Regency era in Britain could mirror sisterhood in Twentieth Century America. It was that connection – the universal theme of sisterhood – that made me want to try an updated version. That said, I should probably emphasize that my book probably can’t be classified as a true retelling. There are similar topics, and the key characters and plot elements correspond, but that’s where the parallels end. This was an intentional decision on my part. I knew I couldn’t replicate Austen’s style, and I didn’t want the pressure of staying true to her voice, sense of place, or story structure. So instead I wrote a Jennifer Ziegler book that was inspired by Jane Austen. It has a narrower scope, more personal tone, and punchier prose, but it explores the same themes.

Now out!
At its heart, Sass & Serendipity is a story about sisters. Tell us about your sister. Did your relationship with her inspire the story in any way?

Amanda is three years younger than me, but she’s the tougher one. She caught spiders and defended me from bullies. I was dreamy and naïve and afraid of the dark. In fact, she’s probably the reason I became a writer. We shared a room and I used to tell her stories at night to try to make her laugh. Even though we squabbled a lot, we always had each other’s back. We’re still extremely close, and it amazes me that our relationship could be so complicated as girls, but so simple now.

Even though Daphne and Gabby are very different from me and Amanda, I did draw quite a bit from my sisterly experiences while writing the novel: the arguments; the unspoken sense of competition or jealousy; the sudden and overwhelming feelings of tenderness or loyalty. I called upon these memories and emotions and breathed them into my story.

Every chapter is titled a word with ‘sis’ in it, which I thought was very unique and cool. So what inspired you to do this? Was it hard coming up with all the different words?

Thank you! I’m not sure what inspired me. I’m a sucker for word play of all kind. I enjoyed the challenge of coming up with the perfect “sis” word that would tie into the themes of each chapter, and it helped me focus on those themes during the revision stage. There were a couple of chapters that were left unnamed until I had the right “aha!” moment, but eventually I had them all lined up.

I love the cover of the book. It's very colorful and eye-catching in my opinion. So what was your reaction when you saw it for the first time?

I let out a supersonic squeal that cleared a five-block area of all small mammals. It was exactly the sort of thing I wanted. Simultaneously sweet and sassy, old-fashioned and contemporary, and striking without being loud. I rebel against having faces on my covers – it’s important to me that readers come up with their own images of the characters. And even though there are elements of romance in my book, I didn’t want the girl-mooning-over-a-guy type of cover. The sister relationship is most important, and the image conveys that.

Name three things your readers would be surprised to know about you.

1.) I once hosted a cable access live TV show. It was exciting. It also taught me that I should stick with print media.
2.) I can quote several classic Bugs Bunny cartoons from beginning to end.
3.) I’ve been told my enchiladas are to die for – although they haven’t actually killed anyone yet.

What’s up next for you book wise?

I have a few things in the hopper, but I’m not sure which one will end up on shelves next. I have a couple of YA projects in the works, plus I’m trying my hand at writing middle grade. It’s lots of fun, but I’m finding it’s easier to channel my inner 16-year-old than my inner 11-year-old.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Just that I’m honored to be here! Thank you, Lauren, for all that you do for book lovers!


Thanks for stopping by, Jennifer! It was fun seeing your answers!

To find out more about Jennifer as well as her other books, visit her website, blogTwitter, and/or Facebook

To purchase a copy of Sass & Serendipity or add it to your wishlist, head over to Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound

As part of the blog tour, Jennifer is also offering up A Sassy Giveaway! Three lucky winners will each receive one copy of Jennifer Ziegler's SASS & SERENDIPITY along with Jane Austen's classic, SENSE AND SENSIBILITY. To enter, send an e-mail to In the body of the e-mail, include your name, mailing address, and e-mail address (if you're under 13, submit a parent's name and e-mail address). One entry per person; prizes will only be shipped to US or Canadian addresses. Entries must be received by midnight (PDT) on 8/5/11. Winners will be selected in a random drawing on 8/6/11 and notified via email.

Jennifer's next stop on the tour is over at YA Bliss.

1 comment:

  1. I adore Jane Austen and Sense and Sensibility, so I must say that this interview is fantastic. I love her reasoning for wanting to retell the story. This makes me so happy that I just bought this book. Thank you for sharing!!!


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