Jenni Walsh is one of our favorite DEBUTANTES, class of 2017. The Debs are a group of women authors, who celebrate the year their first novel is published. Jenni’s novel, BECOMING BONNIE tied in with the 50th anniversary of the Oscar-winning film, Bonnie and Clyde, starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.
1. How historically accurate is Becoming Bonnie?
First and foremost, Becoming Bonnie is a work of fiction. But that doesn’t mean hours and hours (and hours) of research hasn’t gone into the drafting of this novel.
There are many elements relating to Bonnie Parker (and the other characters, such as Clyde Barrow and Blanche Caldwell) that are borrowed from actual historical accounts. There are also some facets pulled from my imagination to add greater depth and narration to the story.
One such example is Bonnie’s name. At the start of the novel, she goes by Bonnelyn. Sounds sweet and wholesome, right? That’s what I was going for. By the end of the novel, she goes by Bonnie. I’m so excited for readers to experience her evolution from Point A to Point B, including which character coins her new nickname.
2. The Bonnie Parker depicted in history is a cigar-smoking gun moll. What Bonnie do you bring to the reader?
A dreamer. At the beginning of the novel, I’ve given Bonn a fictional name, Bonnelyn. I was going for something wholesome, because that’s what she was. She sang in her church’s choir. She was a straight A student. She was devoted to her family and friends. And she had a boyfriend, who wasn’t Clyde! Bonn also came from poverty, which made her ache for more out of life. She wanted to be somebody. Her background and her aspirations are ultimately what lead her to pick up a gun in Becoming Bonnie, so it’s certainly fair to attach the word “gun” to her. Now the cigar-smoking part has a funnier bit of history. There are playful, joking photos of Bonnie with a cigar in her mouth that were later found by the police and circulated via newspapers. Bonnie was mortified by that photo and even reached out to the media to express how she doesn’t smoke cigars!
3. You write for children and adults. Which is this?
Becoming Bonnie can be considered a crossover between YA and Adult, but will be with the Adult titles at your fave bookstore. The novel begins with Bonnie at the age of 17 and tells her coming-of-age story.
Jenni’s follow-up novel, SIDE BY SIDE was published this year. It’s book 2 in the “Bonnie series.” In SIDE BY SIDE, The Bonnie and Clyde story is told from the perspective of Bonnie. “If the world won’t give them their American dream, they’ll just have to take it.” *SIDE BY SIDE can read as a stand alone.
Busy Jenni took some time out to answer our questions about the Holidays.
1. What is your favorite Holiday?
2. What do you love about the Holidays?
My dad wanted us to believe in Santa Claus for as long as possible. Each year, he’s set up this elaborate production of a hidden camera triggered by motion that’d “catch” Santa in the act. Then, after my brother and I were asleep, he’d dress up as Santa and capture Old Saint Nick delivering presents. It was fun having “proof,” although my dad always was sure to position the camera so it only captured Santa’s legs, feet, and hands when bending to deposit presents. Never his face.
4. What are your wishes for 2019?
Jenni L. Walsh spends her days knee deep in words in Philadelphia’s suburbia. Beyond words, Jenni is a mama (of an feisty four-year-old, an on-the-go two-year-old, and a needy newfypoo), a wife, a Philly and ‘Nova sports fan..
But where did it all begin? Jenni spent her early years dabbling in various forms of writing and with her nose in a book. Her writing chops first began to develop through one-page stories. Never fail, the storyline followed the same progression: girl meets boy, girl marries boy, girl and boy have baby. That’s it. Jenni’s mom treated it like a masterpiece each and every time.
For the kiddos, Jenni’s debut middle grade series, She Dared, is forthcoming from Scholastic (Jan, 1 2019) and will feature true stories from women who, at a young age, accomplished daring feats of perseverance and bravery.
Jenni is offering a signed copy of SIDE BY SIDE to one lucky reader. Just tell us what you think of the story of Bonnie and Clyde. We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck.
GIVEAWAY: USA only please.