Interview: Jenny Flake Rabe
Jenny Rabe is a true southern treasure in the writing community. She runs the ever-popular LDS Beta Readers writing support group, which currently boasts just shy of 1,200 members. Jenny has helped launch numerous careers. LDS Beta Readers was my first publication credit, thanks to the anthologies her team generously helps to publish each year. We've all waited anxiously for her first novel.
It was worth the wait. Playground Treasures is an adorable and touching novel about two children who find healing through friendship. Jenny draws heavily on her knowledge of children to create believable young characters. The situations and drama are created through those pure, simple and yet grand emotions. The touching conclusion will melt your heart as it reminds you of the power of children.
Jenny has embarked on a series of motivational speeches to children that encourage finding resilience through writing. Could your school use its own special blend of playground treasures? Reach out to Jenny on Facebook to book her for events or speeches.
Why did you decide to write this story?
I was teaching a unit on writing to my students, and one of the tips was to write a book you wish existed. I wished this book existed...so I wrote it.
What do you hope a reader gains from your story?
Friendship helps to heal the little holes in our hearts. Kids are having to go through tougher and tougher situations, and I wrote a book that shows how two friends use what's been dealt to them to lean on each other.
What kind of research did you do for this novel? Is there any detail you found in your research that particularly interested you?
I am obsessed with playground equipment now. Because Kendall lived on the playground at his elementary school, I got to include some of the fun equipment he played on. Georgia had amazing playground equipment and it brought back awesome memories.
How do you feel that you changed as a person and/or writer after completing this work?
One of the big things I learned about writing is that it is a collective skill. You go to a conference, you collect a skill that contributes to your story. You ask for a beta reader who turns your story upside down, you learn to write something completely opposite of what you were planning. You improve your writing skills during a break in your book by working on other projects, and when you return to that book, you have fresh eyes. I am a different writer now than I was the first day I started Playground Treasures. And tomorrow, I will be a little different than I was today. Writing is an evolving skill if you use it correctly.
What is your favorite go-to advice for an emerging writer?
Write, read, and write some more. Be open to changing what you think is already amazing. Cause in reality, someone probably could write that scene better, and if you are trying to improve your writing, why not follow their advice?
What's next for you? Do you have any works in progress?
I am currently in the process of proofing a romance anthology with my LDS Beta Readers group called Unspoken Words and will be publishing a YA romance suspense in the late fall called Diving for Love.
Jenny Rabe is from a small town in Georgia where she enjoyed wading in the creeks, playing at the South Elementary playground where there were indeed 64 swings in a row, and climbing the two massive Magnolia trees in her backyard. Now that she lives in Utah, she misses the fireflies, humidity, and hearing Southern accents, but loves the wonder of the mountains. When she is not writing, she is chasing her two boys around and spending time with her husband.
Look for Jenny's next release in October 2017