Saturday, January 16, 2016

0 Jennifer Bosworth, author of THE KILLING JAR, on writing the action and the heart

We're delighted to have Jennifer Bosworth join us to chat about her latest novel THE KILLING JAR.

Jennifer, what was your inspiration for writing THE KILLING JAR?

Kenna Marsden, the main character in THE KILLING JAR, has the power to absorb energy from nature, which has a psychedelic effect on her. I got the idea after watching a video on YouTube of a proper, ladylike 50’s housewife trying LSD under the supervision of researchers. She went from uptight and shy to euphoric as she described the effects of the drug. She said she had never seen such infinite beauty in her life, and that she felt sorry for the scientist interviewing her because he could never understand the beauty she was seeing.

I was fascinated by the video, and began to imagine a group of people with the power to enter this kind of state through supernatural means. People have written about so many different kinds of supernatural powers (invisibility, flying, strength, shape-shifting, telepathy, telekenisis), but I couldn’t think of anyone who’d written about the power to enter a psychedelic state of euphoria and beauty. Considering how many people in the world seek out such experiences, it seemed like an untapped realm of supernatural possibilities.

How long did you work on THE KILLING JAR?
Too long, maybe. Long enough that I wanted to give up because I didn’t think it would ever be good, or that my editor would ever accept the book. All in all, it took over two years and four rewrites. It was a painful, soul-crushing process, and I wanted to quit many times. I actually gave up on the book near the end, and decided instead to adopt a little rescue dog that was a complete wreck (abused, feral, terrified of people, severely underweight). I put all my mental energy into nursing this dog back to health, and I was able to stop agonizing over the book and just write it.

What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

Every book makes you a better writer, but this one taught me a lot about character, and how to dig deeper and deeper, to the point where I know everything about the person I’m writing.

What do you hope readers will take away from THE KILLING JAR?

For me, each book I write is actually two books, the action and the heart. On the surface, THE KILLING JAR is about a dangerous girl with a potentially destructive power who is sent to live on a bohemian commune, where she learns to master her abilities through a new way of life that may or may not be what it seems. But the book inside the book (the heart) is about a teenage girl who made a terrible mistake and can’t forgive herself for it. She’s consumed by guilt and shame, and her journey is to find a way to accept herself, to live with her own darkness. My hope is that readers identify with this journey. We’ve all done things we’re not proud of, things that make us wonder if we’re bad people, not deserving of love or forgiveness. These thoughts and feelings can be like a heavy shadow that we drag through life, or they can make us go numb with depression. We can live with these things for so long that we’re no longer capable of positive emotions. At its heart, this book is about finding a way through that darkness to what waits on the other side.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Don’t look down. That’s when you fall. Keep your head up and your eyes focused on the work. Not the result. Not the outcome of the work. The work itself.


The Killing Jar by Jennifer Bosworth
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Released 1/12/2016

“I try not to think about it, what I did to that boy.”

Seventeen-year-old Kenna Marsden has a secret.

She’s haunted by a violent tragedy she can’t explain. Kenna’s past has kept people—even her own mother—at a distance for years. Just when she finds a friend who loves her and life begins to improve, she’s plunged into a new nightmare. Her mom and twin sister are attacked, and the dark powers Kenna has struggled to suppress awaken with a vengeance.

On the heels of the assault, Kenna is exiled to a nearby commune, known as Eclipse, to live with a relative she never knew she had. There, she discovers an extraordinary new way of life as she learns who she really is, and the wonders she’s capable of. For the first time, she starts to feel like she belongs somewhere. That her terrible secret makes her beautiful and strong, not dangerous. But the longer she stays at Eclipse, the more she senses there is something malignant lurking underneath it all. And she begins to suspect that her new family has sinister plans for her…

Purchase The Killing Jar at Amazon
Purchase The Killing Jar at IndieBound
View The Killing Jar on Goodreads


Author and screenwriter, Jennifer Bosworth, grew up in a small town where there was nothing to do but read and get into trouble. She did plenty of both, which led her to a career writing about people who get into trouble. Jennifer and her husband recently escaped from Los Angeles and are now hiding out in Portland, Oregon with a couple of long-legged dogs. In her spare time she can be found watching horror movies and dreaming of starting her own hippie commune, where there will be many goats. Learn more about her and view her short films at or just Google her and see what happens.
Have you had a chance to read THE KILLING JAR yet? Do you dig deeper and deeper into your characters? When writing a book, do you actually write two books? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy reading,

Jocelyn, Shelly, Martina, Erin, Lisa, Susan, Sam, Lindsey, Sandra, Kristin, and Anisaa

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