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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Interview with Jenni L. Walsh

Today I have the exciting opportunity to share an interview with Jenni L. Walsh, author of the newly released Becoming Bonnie, which I am so excited to have the opportunity to read.  Check it out!

becoming bonnie

Heather: The story of Bonnie and Clyde is one that most people feel like they know, but not a whole lot is known about Bonnie’s early life, from what I understand. Was this freeing in a way that allowed you more room to craft your story or was the specter of such a seemingly well-known story daunting?

Jenni L. Walsh: Daunting, yes! But it’s interesting that—even with what’s known about Bonnie’s past, which isn’t much, as you pointed out—the anecdotes rarely align. Newspapers, too. I wrote one scene where I pulled facts from one newspaper source. Then, I found another periodical to see if there were any new details I could implement. I was surprised to see that the same event was portrayed different by these two sources. In one breath, this was freeing. In another, I was worried those familiar with one way their story was told would balk at the details I included from other sources. Then, of course, I took creative license in some spots because, at the end of the day, I need the pieces of my story to all fit together with how I’m telling it.

H: Wow!  Who would imagine that they would vary so widely with reports?!

What led you to writing about Bonnie? What do you think draws people to their story even today?

JLW: I had written about other iconic people for other projects, and really enjoyed it. So I wanted to dip my toe back into that pool. I quickly landed on Bonnie. I caught the Bonnie and Clyde film years ago on TV, and to this day, it’s not the violence that’s stuck with me, but their devotion toward each other. It made me wonder who they were besides outlaws, who met their end early in life. I’ve heard others say they are fascinated by this: people who die young. Bonnie and Clyde were only in their early twenties at the time of their final ambush.

H:  For me they have such an interesting story and as you said, it was all within a short period of time and a young age. 

What sort of research went into preparing for Becoming Bonnie? Have you been to the memorial site or seen any of the memorabilia first hand?

JLW: Thank goodness for the Internet because I didn’t have the financial means (or time, with a 3-year-old and 1-year-old) to get myself to Texas. But the FBI have files available that I looked through, along with many newspaper articles, memoirs, personal journals, photographs, and first-hand accounts.

H: That is really cool that the FBI has files available that you can review online!  The internet is phenomenal!

The Bonnie that most of us know of is a gun-toting criminal. What Bonnie do you bring to the reader in Becoming Bonnie?

JLW: A dreamer. At the beginning of the novel, I’ve given Bonn a fictional name, Bonnelyn. I was going for something wholesome, because that’s what she was. She sang in her church’s choir. She was a straight A student. She was devoted to her family and friends. And she had a stable boyfriend, who wasn’t Clyde! Bonn also came from poverty, which made her ache for more out of life. She wanted to be somebody. Her background and her aspirations are ultimately what lead her to pick up a gun in Becoming Bonnie.

H: What has been the most difficult part of the writing/publishing process so far? Anything that you would do differently?

JLW: I wouldn’t do anything differently because I’m very happy with where I am (now, haha), but I think I was taken aback by how long the process took. Like Bonn, I’m a dreamer, and when I first began writing novels, my goal was to have a novel published before I had my first child. Well, my oldest kiddo is almost four, and I started years before she was even conceived.

H: That is a common story that I hear, it’s so easy to underestimate the process is what I get from the stories I have heard.

Are you a full time author or do you have to find time to write around a typical 9-5 job? How do you find time to write?

JLW: For a couple years, I was a stay-at-home mom, who also worked full-time from home, and who also wrote books. I wouldn’t recommend it, haha! I currently very fortunate to have three books under contract and it wasn’t humanly possible to wear all those hates if I wanted to hit my deadlines. So, for the past few months I’ve been concentrating solely on my babes and my book babes. I normally write at night, during naptimes, and the weekends.

H: I can imagine that it would be extremely difficult to write around the schedules of young children!  Kudos for having 3 books under contract!

When you are not reading for research, what type of books or what authors do you enjoy reading?

JLW: I like to read in my genre, historical fiction. It certainly isn’t short of amazing novels. I recently plowed through books by Greer Macallister, Pam Jenoff, Hazel Gaynor, and Heather Webb.

H: I have read all of the above with exception of Macallister, which I do have on my bookshelf.

Do you have any future writing plans that you can tell us about?

JLW: Yes! I’d love to tell ya about those three books I’m working on. Being Bonnie is the follow-up to Becoming Bonnie that dives more heavily into Bonnie and Clyde’s infamous crime spree. This one is coming in Summer 2018. Then, I am also beginning a middle grade nonfiction series with Scholastic in the fall of 2018. The series, called Brave Like Me, will feature women who, at a young age, accomplished daring feats of perseverance and bravery. The first two books I’m releasing in the series are about Bethany Hamilton and Malala Yousafzai.

H: I love the sound of the middle grade books!  I was always looking for books like that when I was young and didn’t find enough out there!  Can’t wait to see what the future brings!

jenni l walsh

Jenni L. Walsh spent her early years chasing around cats, dogs, and chickens in Philadelphia's countryside, before dividing time between a soccer field and a classroom at Villanova University. She put her marketing degree to good use as an advertising copywriter, zip-code hopping with her husband to DC, NYC, NJ, and not surprisingly, back to Philly. There, Jenni's passion for words continued, adding author to her resume. She now balances her laptop with a kid on each hip, and a four-legged child at her feet. Becoming Bonnie is her first novel.

Find Jenni L. Walsh: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

becoming bonnie

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Book Blurb:

From debut historical novelist Jenni L. Walsh comes the untold story of how wholesome Bonnelyn Parker became half of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde duo.

​The summer of 1927 might be the height of the Roaring Twenties, but Bonnelyn Parker is more likely to belt out a church hymn than sling drinks at an illicit juice joint. She’s a sharp girl with plans to overcome her family's poverty, provide for herself, and maybe someday marry her boyfriend, Roy Thornton. But when Roy springs a proposal on her and financial woes jeopardize her ambitions, Bonnelyn finds salvation in an unlikely place: Dallas's newest speakeasy, Doc's.

Living the life of a moll at night, Bonnie remains a wholesome girl by day, engaged to Roy, attending school and working toward a steady future. When Roy discovers her secret life, and embraces it—perhaps too much, especially when it comes to booze and gambling—Bonnie tries to make the pieces fit. Maybe she can have it all: the American Dream, the husband, and the intoxicating allure of jazz music. What she doesn't know is that her life—like her country—is headed for a crash.
She’s about to meet Clyde Barrow.

Few details are known about Bonnie's life prior to meeting her infamous partner. In Becoming Bonnie, Jenni L. Walsh shows a young woman promised the American dream and given the Great Depression, and offers a compelling account of why she fell so hard for a convicted felon—and turned to crime herself.

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

You can check out this EXCERPT for a taste of the novel!


Giveaway Opportunity!

bonnie mug

There is a giveaway hosted by the author of a $25 Amazon Gift Card and a special Bonnie mug up for grabs.  Entries can be made by the Rafflecopter below.   The giveaway will run May 9th through May 12th. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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