When I received a copy of Save Me, Kurt Cobain a few days ago, I was instantly curious and wanted to see how the writer had incorporated the music of such an iconic band into her story. I was filled with intrigue the more I read, and immediately sought out connecting with Jenny Manzer in hopes of doing an interview with the author. I'm pleased she accepted, and is also contributing to a giveaway.
Continue below for the interview in IFB's latest Behind the Pages series, and be sure to enter the international giveaway:
Where are you from and what or who inspired you to become to a writer?
I was born in Toronto, Canada, and grew up in a family of readers. I am not sure there was any one thing that inspired me to be a writer except just an innate love of stories—which I think most children have. Now, as an adult, I realize the incredible power stories have.
If you hadn't embarked on this path, what would you be doing instead?
I once considered being a social worker—but you had to take statistics. Some people have told me I could have been a lawyer—which perhaps means I am argumentative. I disagree. J
I read that you worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine editor, and an investigative journalist. So what made you decide to start writing novels?
I had always loved stories—based on fact or fiction. As a young journalist, I was quite idealistic about exposing the truth. Then, after I had my children, I felt compelled to return to writing fiction, something I had pursued since childhood and also studied at the University of Victoria, in British Columbia, where I now live.
How difficult was the transition to fiction?
After all those years of writing journalism, I needed help. I read many books and enlisted some advice from a local novelist. I knew how to tell a story, but not as fiction. So, it wasn’t easy at first. At the same time, real stories often spark ideas for the best fiction. However, to borrow from a short story title by Timothy Findley: “Real Life Writes Real Bad.”
Top three favorite books of all time, no matter the genre:
So difficult! I have always loved Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers, and to that I will add recent favorites: Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill and The Crossover by Kwame Alexander.
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Share a bit about Save Me, Kurt Cobain, in regards to how you got the idea for the title and plot.
The story was sparked by reading a news story in my local newspaper about a Nirvana concert in Victoria, British Columbia. It took place in March 1991, but hardly anyone attended. Just a few months later—Nirvana was the biggest band on the planet. The title just evolved from there: the idea of a teenage girl, Nico, who had spent her whole life thirsting for answers about her mother, who disappeared when Nico was four.
Was it hard developing a character like Nico?
I just had to imagine a very lonely teenage girl with a lot of questions about her past. I suppose it was difficult, her background is not at all like my own. But then of course she started speaking to me—as characters do!
What do you hope readers will take from this story?
I hope they will appreciate the musical legacy of Kurt Cobain and how music and art has a power to distract, to elevate, to connect people and get them through rough times—and not just for teens.
Now that the book is out, what's next for you? Any events or other stories in the works?
I have a draft of a new book completed and am awaiting feedback from my agent. Hopefully I’ll be doing some readings and signings for Save Me, Kurt Cobain in the Pacific Northwest over the summer—stay tuned!
Thank you for taking the time, Jenny. Please leave any tips you might have for aspiring writers.
Thank you so much, Shane, for this opportunity. My tip would be to write every day. Set a goal for your word count—whether it is 300 or 500 words. (If you go on a spree and write 1,000, take a night off!) The point is to keep in touch with your creative side, to unmask it, and outsmart your inner critic that says: “this sucks” or “I can’t.”
More about Jenny Manzer
She has loved writing stories ever since she was a little girl. Now that she has two children of her own, she does most of her writing (and listening to Nirvana) at night while they’re asleep.
She was born in Toronto, but was won over by the wild West Coast while attending the University of Victoria’s writing program. She’s a sucker for a big dog, an airline seat sale, or a winding trail.
She used to be afraid of clowns, but is so over that. Really. Send them on in.
Save Me, Kurt Cobain is available now
Synopsis via Goodreads:
What if you discovered that Kurt Cobain is not only alive, but might be your real father?
Nicola Cavan has been an outsider since age four when her mother vanished from their home in Victoria, British Columbia. Now 15, Nico is determined to find her beautiful, music-obsessed mother. After glimpsing “Cobain” on a ferry from Seattle, Nico follows the man with the blazing blue eyes to a remote Vancouver Island cabin—and her life will never be the same.
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