Interview with Jenni Walsh, Author of Becoming Bonnie

Today, we’re talking to Jenni Walsh. Her first novel, Becoming Bonnie, debuts on May 9!

Please describe what your book about.

Becoming Bonnie tells the untold story of how church-going Bonnelyn Parker becomes half of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde duo during the Roaring Twenties.

Share a teaser sentence or two from your novel.

I rattle the phone into its holder. This thought and that thought bump into each other, colliding, fighting, ‘til a single thought remains: Forgive me Father, for I’m ‘bout to sin.

What do you want people to know about your book?

Let me switch it up a little and answer that I want people to feel like they’ve stepped into a sweetly scandalous Carrie Underwood song.

What did you learn about yourself while writing this novel?

I can muster productivity on severe lack of sleep. My second child arrived smack dab in the middle of my 3-month revision period.

What was your timeline from drafting to publication?

How about this… I’ll throw some real numbers at ya. I broke ground on Becoming Bonnie, writing the first chapter, in March of 2014. I began querying Jan 1, 2015. I got my first agent offer on January 9 (my birthday!), but accepted a different offer on January 16, 2015. I went on sub in February and my publication offer came in August of 2015 (after an R&R). My book will be releasing in May of 2017. So… when it’s all said and done, my journey to publication (not counting previous books I’ve written and shelved) will have taken 39 months (if I did the math correctly. I’m not a numbers gal).

What is your favorite part of writing (drafting characters, making up scenes, plotting, developing emotional turning points, etc). Why?

Dialogue. Hands down. I love when I’m washing my hair, folding laundry… trying to sleep… and my characters start having this pithy back and forth convo in my head. I feverishly stop what I’m doing and try to get it down on paper.

Briefly, where did the idea for your book come from?

I (somehow) saw the Bonnie and Clyde film when I was a little girl. The violence didn’t stick with me, but their loyalty toward one another did. It made me wonder who they were besides outlaws.

When do you do your best thinking about your work in progress?

Naturally it comes when I’m not at a computer and I have to find a quick way to capture my idea. But in general, I work at night when the rest of my house is asleep and I don’t have kids tugging on me.

Share something people may be surprised to know about you?

I had very little interest in history until after I got married. My husband is a huge history buff.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever gotten?

Work a little each day. Even if it’s only getting a paragraph down on paper, it’s progress.

What’s next?

Becoming Bonnie is a book for the mamas, but I’m also working on books for kiddos. In 2018 I’ll be beginning a middle grade series, Brave Like Me, with Scholastic that features real women, who at a young age, accomplished daring feats of perseverance and bravery.

Is Becoming Bonnie a standalone novel?

It can be. But, their story also continues into Being Bonnie, which will be hitting shelves the summer of 2018. I’m really excited to be working on this sequel to bring some of the darker elements of Bonnie and Clyde’s infamy to life.

“A compelling account of a nation and a life in disarray—readers will feel for Bonnelyn as she finds herself scrabbling for survival in a world turned upside down.” – Lauren Willig, New York Times bestselling author

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