Wednesday, January 6, 2021

A conversation with Jenni Holm about her book “The Lion of Mars”

In 2008, I spoke at a conference in Reno where I met the Holm siblings of Babymouse fame, writer Jenni and illustrator Matt. I liked them instantly because it’s biologically impossible not to. They did a joint presentation that was like a SNL sketch you never saw. Funny, polished, chemistrical. (What’s the adjective corresponding to “chemisty”?)

Matt and I haven’t been in the same place at the same time much since then, but I’ve seen Jenni a lot over the years—San Diego Comic-Con, the National Book Festival, random conferences nationwide, and even my house. She’s one of my dearest friends in the business.

It was, therefore, both a privilege and a pleasure when she asked me to interview her for a bookstore launch event for her latest novel, The Lion of Marsout now. I have little astronaut experience but tons of experience talking about good books.

The Lion of Mars is a mystery set in 2091 and set on (spoiler alert) Mars. It explores the dynamic of the varied personalities in the small American settlement and keeps readers in suspense waiting to learn why they do not interact with other countries’ settlements. Ultimately it reveals what the kids do to change that.

This being 2020—wait, sorry, 2021—the event was virtual. We Zoomed in from all over the galaxy: it was hosted by the King’s English Bookshop in Utah. Jenni was in California. I was in Maryland. The story is (as you may recall) on Mars. 

I’ve been interviewed countless times and I’ve been on many panels with fellow authors, but this was, I believe, the first time I’ve interviewed another author—certainly the first time one-on-one in front of an audience. It was so fun stepping into this new role. Jenni, of course, had delightful answers to both my questions and the questions from the audience. I hope the unseen attendees (and Jenni) enjoyed it as much as I did. 

Though COVID-19 has, of course, put most in-person literary events on hold, I haven’t had a lonely year, authorwise: I did a range of video projects with/for Kwame Alexander, Alan Katz, Jerry Pallotta, and Julia DeVillers. One was even in person—so 2019! 

And my public chat with longtime friend Jenni Holm about her engaging Red Planet story was a sweet red cherry on top. 

No comments: