Author Interview: Jenny Moss (Taking Off)

Thursday, February 10, 2011 |

Books (Young Adult):
  • Winnie's War (2009)
  • Shadow (2009)
  • Taking Off (2011)

Jenny Moss:

Jenny Moss lives in Houston and writes.

She is the author of SHADOW (Scholastic Press) and WINNIE'S WAR (Walker Books for Young Readers). Her next young adult novel, TAKING OFF, will be published by Walker in January 2011.

Taking Off:
Reimagining the days surrounding this unforgettable event in history, readers are brought back to 1986 as the astronauts prepare for the Challenger mission, and Christa McAullife trains to be the first teacher in space. When a teen named Annie meets Christa, she is fascinated by Christa's courage. Truly inspired, Annie is determined to make it to Florida to see the Challenger launch, a trip that will forever change how she thinks about herself and her secret desire for her own future. Although she is devastated when tragedy strikes, Annie honors Christa by following her own dream, despite the obstacles. Bringing in her experience as a NASA engineer, Jenny Moss weaves a moving story that recaptures the inspiration teens must have felt years ago as they watched Christa McAuliffe reach for the sky.

Would you rather revise or edit?
I love revising. It's such fun to take a first draft and add subplots and deepen characterization and "prettify" the prose. There *is* a certain rhythm you get into when doing line edits that has its own appeal, but I prefer revision.

What made you decide to write historical fiction?
I read a lot of historical fiction. I like to imagine what's it like to live in different countries, time periods, and cultures. And I also enjoy research, which is a must for a historical fiction writer.

Do you think historical fiction is a hard genre to write and get into?
I can immerse myself in different worlds fairly easily. But it does require a lot of research time - not difficult, but it does leave less time for actual writing.

How did you come up with the title, Taking Off?
My editor (and other folks at Walker) and I went through a lot of titles before finding this one. One of my suggestions was LAUNCH, which would refer to the space shuttle launch and the launch of Annie's life after high school. My editor suggested TAKING OFF instead of LAUNCH, and we all liked that better.

Who was harder to develop while writing your story? Christa or Annie?

Definitely Christa - because she was a real person, and an amazing person, and I wanted to be true to who she was and accurately capture the essence of who she was.

Did you have to do any research for Taking Off? If so, was it challenging?
Because the novel is set in Clear Lake, Texas, which has been my home for many years, and because I worked for NASA during the time of the Challenger disaster, the research was not as difficult as it might have been for someone else. Still, I did read many books and articles to make sure that I had the details right.

If you could choose any super power, what would it be?
:) Lately, I've been thinking it would be nice to be Samantha on Bewitched and twitch my nose and get a wish.

If you were forced to go to a deserted island, what one book would you bring with you?
Only one? No, no, no. I couldn't do it. Maybe if it was something like The Complete Works of Jane Austen or The Complete Works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, I'd make it.

What are your other plans for your writing career?
I have too many ideas and not enough time. Right now, I have three rough drafts: a dystopian, a YA about two teens in 1976, and a paranormal YA. I also have a draft of a sequel to SHADOW, but if I revisit those characters, I plan on rewriting significantly.

Thanks so much to Jenny for stopping by! Taking Off was released on January 4th so you can go run in the bookstores and check it out!

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