NADIA KING: JENNA’S TRUTH

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I’m always excited to have a new-to-me author on the blog . . . but I’m especially thrilled to host Nadia King, to chat about the re-release of her debut novella, JENNA’S TRUTH. The book deals with an issue that, as the mother of a middle schooler, I can’t help but think about: bullying. It’s an insidious, devastating problem, and I especially appreciated Nadia’s inclusion of resources for kids who might be struggling. Welcome to the blog, Nadia!

Congratulations on the re-release of your debut novella, JENNA’S TRUTH. What’s the book all about—and what inspired you to write it?

Jenna’s Truth was my way of making sense of the suicide of a young girl. In 2012, Canadian teen Amanda Todd died after years of being bullied and cyber-bullied. Before she died, Amanda posted a video on YouTube and told the world her story through the use of flash cards. The video went viral. I was devastated when I watched the video and felt compelled to rewrite Amanda’s story. I wanted to write an ending that I could live with – a story where the bullies don’t get to win and where the hero of the story finds their own truth and understanding.

Why did you decide to write JENNA’S TRUTH as a novella rather than a novel? And what are the circumstances behind the re-release?

I kept JENNA’S TRUTH deliberately short to make the story accessible to all young adult readers, even reluctant readers. There are few young adult books for reluctant readers on the market and I wanted to make sure that all teens had the opportunity to engage with Jenna’s story. The stats for teen suicide are shockingly high and writing JENNA’S TRUTH was my small attempt to connect with kids who find themselves being bullied or cyber-bullied and to offer them a message of hope.

JENNA’S TRUTH was initially published by a small independent press. The rights were reverted to me when the press divested themselves of many of their titles. I was extremely fortunate when boutique publisher, Serenity Press bought the rights and I am proud of this new edition which was released in April 2018. The new edition has a new cover, internal graphics, new content, and a foreword written by suicide survivor and mental health advocate, Kevin Hines.

JENNA’S TRUTH dives deeply into the issue of bullying, including resources such as cyberbullying help lines and notes for teachers who wish to incorporate the book into their curriculum. What do you hope that the book will accomplish—and can you share a story or two of readers in whose lives it has made a difference?

My dream for JENNA’S TRUTH is that the story will connect with teens who find themselves in a hopeless situation and that through Jenna’s story they will come to realise they have a bright future ahead of them. I know it’s a long shot but I’d like to think the story has the potential to save lives.

A teacher who read JENNA’S TRUTH told me she found herself drawing on the story when she was faced with a student in a difficult situation. She said the book helped her to approach the student with compassion and understanding. JENNA’S TRUTH hasbeen taught in several schools and has even been performed for students. If the book makes one kid stop and think about the future with hope then the story has done its job.

In addition to writing JENNA’S TRUTH, you’re the author of many short stories. What advice would you give to aspiring short story writers . . . unique elements of the form, pitfalls to avoid, tricks of the trade?

I’m not an expert on writing short stories at all but here’s what I know. Short stories are all about limits. You limit the setting, the characters, the time period. Short stories are about giving the reader a snapshot into another life, and not explaining everything, you get to tease the reader with hints. Ironically, the limits of short stories can give you freedom in your story telling. You don’t have to explain, you can poke and prod your readers into thinking deeply about the story. Unlike other story forms, short stories allow readers to fill in the blanks.

Accomplished short story writer, George Saunders said: ‘When you read a short story, you come out a little more aware and a little more in love with the world around you.’

For emerging writers, short stories are a great way to build up a body of work and to garner a reputation. They are a way to practise your craft.

How did you come to write YA fiction? Tell us your story!

I fell into writing young adult fiction. When I saw Amanda Todd’s Youtube video I was at the halfway point of writing a contemporary women’s novel. I threw the manuscript away and shudder to think how bad the writing must have been—it was my first attempt at fiction writing. Amanda Todd’s story stopped me in my tracks. I saw how it important it is to write for the young adult market – the opportunities to connect with teen readers and offer a message of hope. There are many diverse realities and each of those realities should be represented in fiction. Fiction is a way to engage with others to show them they’re not alone and that their future can be bright. Young adult fiction especially seems to me a way to try to change the world a little, a way to sow positive messages into young lives and so at the moment, that’s what I’m trying to do.

And last but not least . . . what was it like to ride an ostrich? Inquiring minds want to know!

Ha ha! I was very young when I rode an ostrich. We were on holiday in South Africa and visited an ostrich farm so the ostriches weren’t wild beasts. Ostriches are actually quite tall with bendy necks and I remember being worried that the ostrich I was on would turn around and look me in the eye, something I really did not want to happen. I’m still not keen on the thought of an ostrich eyeballing me up close. Luckily, the ostrich was tethered and led by a keeper so I was safe! All I can say is it’s quite wobbly to ride an ostrich, I much prefer camels!

ABOUT THE BOOK 

Jenna’s just a teenager who wants to fit in. The popularity that she wanted though, quickly turns into infamy when two “well-meaning” friends spark a controversy that alters her life forever. What happens when the very group of teens you crave to belong to, end up being responsible for one of the most painful and humiliating events in your life?

Inspired by Amanda Todd’s tragic story of bullying, Jenna’s Truth is more than just teen short story it’s a lesson in empathy, self-awareness, and speaking out about what matters, especially bullying. Jenna’s Truth written by Nadia L King is a gripping story, which explores the themes of cyberbullying, teen drinking, sex, and suicide. Life isn’t black and white, and sometimes teens can be the most insensitive people.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

N.L. King was born in Dublin, Ireland and now calls Australia home. Nadia is an author, blogger, and presenter.

Her debut book, Jenna’s Truth, is published by boutique small press, Serenity Press based in Western Australia.

‘Inspired by the real-life story of the late Canadian teenager Amanda Todd, this story puts a human face on cyberbullying…[and is] a deeply affecting, valuable story and educational tool.’ — Kirkus Reviews

Nadia is passionate about using stories to reflect a diversity of realities in order to positively impact teen lives.

Nadia’s short fiction has been published by Write Out Publishing, and has appeared in The Draft Collective, The Sunlight Press, and The Regal Fox.

In 2017, Nadia was awarded a Paperbird Fellowship – a partnership between independent bookshop, Paperbird, Children’s Books and Arts, the Australia West Branch Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), WA Branch of the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA), and the City of Fremantle Library.

Nadia also runs a teen book club for the Centre for stories.

She is a particularly hopeless horse rider but Nadia enjoyed that one time she rode an ostrich. She also loves riding camels, and hopes to one day ride an elephant.

Nadia enjoys writing contemporary young adult fiction and short fiction, and lives in Western Australia with her family. 

NadiaLKing.com

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I’m always excited to have a new-to-me author on the blog . . . but I’m especially thrilled to host Nadia King, to chat about the re-release of her debut novella, JENNA’S TRUTH. The book deals with an issue that, as the mother of a middle schooler, I can’t help but think about: bullying. It’s an insidious, devastating problem, and I especially appreciated Nadia’s inclusion of resources for kids who might be struggling. Welcome to the blog, Nadia!

Congratulations on the re-release of your debut novella, JENNA’S TRUTH. What’s the book all about—and what inspired you to write it?

Jenna’s Truth was my way of making sense of the suicide of a young girl. In 2012, Canadian teen Amanda Todd died after years of being bullied and cyber-bullied. Before she died, Amanda posted a video on YouTube and told the world her story through the use of flash cards. The video went viral. I was devastated when I watched the video and felt compelled to rewrite Amanda’s story. I wanted to write an ending that I could live with – a story where the bullies don’t get to win and where the hero of the story finds their own truth and understanding.

Why did you decide to write JENNA’S TRUTH as a novella rather than a novel? And what are the circumstances behind the re-release?

I kept JENNA’S TRUTH deliberately short to make the story accessible to all young adult readers, even reluctant readers. There are few young adult books for reluctant readers on the market and I wanted to make sure that all teens had the opportunity to engage with Jenna’s story. The stats for teen suicide are shockingly high and writing JENNA’S TRUTH was my small attempt to connect with kids who find themselves being bullied or cyber-bullied and to offer them a message of hope.

JENNA’S TRUTH was initially published by a small independent press. The rights were reverted to me when the press divested themselves of many of their titles. I was extremely fortunate when boutique publisher, Serenity Press bought the rights and I am proud of this new edition which was released in April 2018. The new edition has a new cover, internal graphics, new content, and a foreword written by suicide survivor and mental health advocate, Kevin Hines.

JENNA’S TRUTH dives deeply into the issue of bullying, including resources such as cyberbullying help lines and notes for teachers who wish to incorporate the book into their curriculum. What do you hope that the book will accomplish—and can you share a story or two of readers in whose lives it has made a difference?

My dream for JENNA’S TRUTH is that the story will connect with teens who find themselves in a hopeless situation and that through Jenna’s story they will come to realise they have a bright future ahead of them. I know it’s a long shot but I’d like to think the story has the potential to save lives.

A teacher who read JENNA’S TRUTH told me she found herself drawing on the story when she was faced with a student in a difficult situation. She said the book helped her to approach the student with compassion and understanding. JENNA’S TRUTH hasbeen taught in several schools and has even been performed for students. If the book makes one kid stop and think about the future with hope then the story has done its job.

In addition to writing JENNA’S TRUTH, you’re the author of many short stories. What advice would you give to aspiring short story writers . . . unique elements of the form, pitfalls to avoid, tricks of the trade?

I’m not an expert on writing short stories at all but here’s what I know. Short stories are all about limits. You limit the setting, the characters, the time period. Short stories are about giving the reader a snapshot into another life, and not explaining everything, you get to tease the reader with hints. Ironically, the limits of short stories can give you freedom in your story telling. You don’t have to explain, you can poke and prod your readers into thinking deeply about the story. Unlike other story forms, short stories allow readers to fill in the blanks.

Accomplished short story writer, George Saunders said: ‘When you read a short story, you come out a little more aware and a little more in love with the world around you.’

For emerging writers, short stories are a great way to build up a body of work and to garner a reputation. They are a way to practise your craft.

How did you come to write YA fiction? Tell us your story!

I fell into writing young adult fiction. When I saw Amanda Todd’s Youtube video I was at the halfway point of writing a contemporary women’s novel. I threw the manuscript away and shudder to think how bad the writing must have been—it was my first attempt at fiction writing. Amanda Todd’s story stopped me in my tracks. I saw how it important it is to write for the young adult market – the opportunities to connect with teen readers and offer a message of hope. There are many diverse realities and each of those realities should be represented in fiction. Fiction is a way to engage with others to show them they’re not alone and that their future can be bright. Young adult fiction especially seems to me a way to try to change the world a little, a way to sow positive messages into young lives and so at the moment, that’s what I’m trying to do.

And last but not least . . . what was it like to ride an ostrich? Inquiring minds want to know!

Ha ha! I was very young when I rode an ostrich. We were on holiday in South Africa and visited an ostrich farm so the ostriches weren’t wild beasts. Ostriches are actually quite tall with bendy necks and I remember being worried that the ostrich I was on would turn around and look me in the eye, something I really did not want to happen. I’m still not keen on the thought of an ostrich eyeballing me up close. Luckily, the ostrich was tethered and led by a keeper so I was safe! All I can say is it’s quite wobbly to ride an ostrich, I much prefer camels!

ABOUT THE BOOK 

Jenna’s just a teenager who wants to fit in. The popularity that she wanted though, quickly turns into infamy when two “well-meaning” friends spark a controversy that alters her life forever. What happens when the very group of teens you crave to belong to, end up being responsible for one of the most painful and humiliating events in your life?

Inspired by Amanda Todd’s tragic story of bullying, Jenna’s Truth is more than just teen short story it’s a lesson in empathy, self-awareness, and speaking out about what matters, especially bullying. Jenna’s Truth written by Nadia L King is a gripping story, which explores the themes of cyberbullying, teen drinking, sex, and suicide. Life isn’t black and white, and sometimes teens can be the most insensitive people.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

N.L. King was born in Dublin, Ireland and now calls Australia home. Nadia is an author, blogger, and presenter.

Her debut book, Jenna’s Truth, is published by boutique small press, Serenity Press based in Western Australia.

‘Inspired by the real-life story of the late Canadian teenager Amanda Todd, this story puts a human face on cyberbullying…[and is] a deeply affecting, valuable story and educational tool.’ — Kirkus Reviews

Nadia is passionate about using stories to reflect a diversity of realities in order to positively impact teen lives.

Nadia’s short fiction has been published by Write Out Publishing, and has appeared in The Draft Collective, The Sunlight Press, and The Regal Fox.

In 2017, Nadia was awarded a Paperbird Fellowship – a partnership between independent bookshop, Paperbird, Children’s Books and Arts, the Australia West Branch Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), WA Branch of the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA), and the City of Fremantle Library.

Nadia also runs a teen book club for the Centre for stories.

She is a particularly hopeless horse rider but Nadia enjoyed that one time she rode an ostrich. She also loves riding camels, and hopes to one day ride an elephant.

Nadia enjoys writing contemporary young adult fiction and short fiction, and lives in Western Australia with her family. 

NadiaLKing.com

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Instagram LinkedIn

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