On this episode of Arts & Letters, we talk with Nashville-based YA author Jeff Zentner. His book, The Serpent King, is filled with big hearted characters, misfits and miscreants cornered by the crushing weight of destiny, “the ossifying conviction that they are living out some ancient and preordained plan—encoded in blood, built into the architecture of name.”
“Nothing stops when we’re gone,” Zentner writes. “The seasons don’t stop. This river doesn’t stop. The lives of the people we love won’t stop. Time keeps unspooling. Stories keep getting written.”
In addition to being a novelist, Zentner is a lawyer, musician and singer-songwriter who has recorded with the likes of Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry, Nick Cave and Thurston Moore. The Serpent King, published by Crown Books in 2016, was a recipient of the William C. Morris Award and was longlisted for the Carnegie Medal.
He wrote the majority of The Serpent King on his iPhone while riding the bus to and from his day job. His latest book is Goodbye Days, published this year.
He says he became interested in writing young adult literature after volunteering at the Tennessee Teen Rock Camp and the Southern Girls Rock Camp.
Support for this program was generously provided by the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.