Interview: Jen Malone, MG & YA Author

JenniferMalone1 - Version 2Jen Malone is a middle grade and YA author whose debut novel AT YOUR SERVICE publishes with Simon & Schuster/Aladdin M!X in August 2014. Jen is a recovering world traveler who spent her early career planning movie premieres for Hollywood celebrities. These days she caters to a much more demanding clientele: her identical twin boys and their little sister. Luckily her husband handles all the cooking, but he loses some points for not agreeing to a pet hedgehog.

You can visit Jen online at

Let’s see how Jen answers the Proust Questionnaire!

What is your idea of happiness?
Pajamas. the fuzzier, the better. The proportion of time writers get to spend in them factored largely into my choice of career paths.

What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it?
Wait, just one? Yikes! I’m way too complicated for that. I’ll give you a favorite mellow one and a favorite upbeat one, how about that? Favorite mellow one: Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley. I’d like to think I heard it before the Shrek credits because that would make me way deeper and possibly even hip, but… probably not. Favorite upbeat song is Sweet Home Alabama. Likely my first time hearing it was at a dueling piano bar which, right away, gives it bonus points! This song makes me happy dance and sing loudly in my car.

Which talent would you most like to have?
I would love to be able to play the guitar like a boss (if I could do it while speaking fluent Italian, all the better). I took a few months of lessons a few years ago, but did you guys know you have to put real, actual work into mastering a musical instrument? Yeah, me neither. So now I’m back to just wishing I would magically wake up with this talent and/or that the nice people at ChordBuddy would make a version for left-handers. Someone start a petition, please!

On what occasion do you lie?
Um…young children of mine, if you’re reading this, Mommy never, ever, ever lies because lying is so very wrong and would also land me on Santa’s naughty list. If Mommy WERE to lie, it would probably be to get out of going somewhere she committed to before realizing pajamas would not be an acceptable dress code.

cvr9781481402835_9781481402835_hrWhat is your present state of mind?
Controlled Chaos.

What is your motto?
Be vulnerable.

What character trait do you most value in your friends?
Roll-with-it-iveness (that’s totally a word, right?). I’m an introverted extrovert, which means that sometimes I get itchy to be out and about, scheduling coffees and workouts, and write-ups galore, but other times I retreat to my cave and wait for all that over-stimulation to pass. My closest friends are those who alternatively understand when I go radio silent and also harass me to get back out in the world!

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Just. Just. Just. Also… just.

Your favorite painting?
At the moment, it is one done by the very talented Kate Birch. Oddly enough, I had it pinned at Ballard Designs to buy for such a long time and never got around to pulling the trigger. One day it disappeared from their site, which made me all kinds of sad. Then, probably more than a year later, I followed a debut author on Twitter and noticed that her wallpaper on her Twitter page matched the painting (it’s still there at @katejarvikbirch). When I DM’d her to compliment her awesome taste in art, she wrote back to say that SHE was the artist. Not only that but she insisted on sending me a print of the very painting I’d drooled over at Ballard Designs. And a week later it showed up in my mail. She wouldn’t even accept payment because that’s how fantastic she is. Now the print is framed and hanging in my bedroom and every time I look at it (in addition to admiring it) I’m reminded of the magic of serendipity and the ways of the universe and ALSO of how freaking awesome members of the kidlit community are. Not bad for one painting!

What is your favorite journey?
Easy peasy. When I was twenty-three I had a round-the-world plane ticket that let me stop as many times as I wanted as long as I continued moving in a westward direction. By the way, these tickets cost less than your average European plane ticket and are freaking awesome. So I took off on a solo round-the-world trip that took my to forty-four countries in the span of ten months. I tried to get by on  $25 a day to stretch my savings as long as possible, which led to quite a few adventures in frugality, including one unfortunate night spent catching sleep in an ATM booth during the Running of the Bulls in Spain.

When I ran out of money, I took a job strolling the beach in southern Portugal, peddling sunset cruise tickets to visiting Brits. But my favorite part of my favorite journey would have to be Nepal, where I bore witness to a funeral pyre on the river and was awakened every night by New Orleans jazz band fronted wedding processions through the streets. My takeaway from that trip is that 99% of the people in this world are decent and caring individuals who will go out of their way to help a total stranger. The rest are douchcanoes, but they can suck it.

What is your favorite time of day?
About fifteen minutes after the sun goes down. I love the indigo color the sky turns and the sense of the world tucking itself in for the night. Though I’d be lying if I didn’t admit my second favorite part is the moment the school bus pulls away from my house each morning and I flip on my computer.

With which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
Jo March from Little Women. Does everyone say her? How could they not. We’d talk books for hours and then we’d co-author a gossip article on Amy for the Pickwick Portfolios. Then she could dish to me on how I could best win over Teddy.

What do you need to achieve before you can die happy?
Totally serious answer on this one: I need to see my kids through the teenage years and into adulthood. I mega-love reading children’s literature, but all those dead parents and scarred-for-life main characters really freak me out.

Who or what is your first love?
Barry Manilow. I wish I was kidding, but I’m definitely not AND I have the fan club membership card to prove it. I was also totally convinced he would wait for my five-year-old self to reach marrying age. Turns out he did, but also turns out, I’m not his type:)

What’s the last dream you remember?
Last night I dreamt I had lice because, just before bed, I read a notice in my daughter’s backpack that a child in her class had been sent home with it. The mere mention of those critters had me scratching my head like crazy.

What’s your madeleine?
A wooden beam in my grandparent’s beach cottage in Maine that has been used as a homemade growth chart for four generations. I love seeing all those little tick marks with the names and years scribbled next to them.  Adding each summer’s new growth spurts on there is such an affirmation of the present and a poignant acknowledgement of the past. Plus, I never fail to smile at the marker with “Lou Ferrigno” at the tip top of the beam because it captures my dad’s sense of humor perfectly.

Without thinking, in one word: what is life?

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