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Huzzah Inklings and Happy New Year!

This month’s Ink Splat Author Interview features author, Jenn Bishop. We discussed where she finds inspiration, what role sports have played in her life as a writer, and we delved into her new book Free Throws, Friendship, and Other Things We Fouled Up.

“When you’re running for several hours, you can’t think about the entire distance or you’ll get overwhelmed. You have to run the mile you’re in. It’s the same with writing. If I think about writing a whole novel, it can be overwhelming sometimes, but the work happens scene by scene, chapter by chapter.” Jenn Bishop

Learn more about Jenn, her published works, and her writing journey at www.jennbishop.com/


Writing Challenge

“Favorites”

Set a timer and in five minutes, list as many of your favorite things that you can think of. Don’t censor yourself, just let it flow.

When the timer beeps, look over your list. Almost like it’s a math problem, try combining two or more of the items from your list.

Write out a few of the possible combinations and follow one that sparks your imagination, the one that makes you think “no way!,” “that would be too weird,” or “but what if?”

Write that story.


What would you say is your superpower as a writer?

I think my writing superpower is stamina for the long journey. Though I might have written about baseball and basketball in two of my novels, the sport I actually practice in real life is running. I’ve run two marathons (26.2 miles) and several half marathons. Writing a whole novel and revising it multiple times requires stamina and a stick-to-it-when-the-going-gets-tough attitude that I developed in my years as a runner. When you’re running for several hours, you can’t think about the entire distance or you’ll get overwhelmed. You have to run the mile you’re in. It’s the same with writing. If I think about writing a whole novel, it can be overwhelming sometimes, but the work happens scene by scene, chapter by chapter.

What can you share with us about your new novel, Free Throws, Friendship, and Other Things We Fouled Up. And what inspired you to write it?

It has been such a joy to launch this book into the world the past month. It’s about two daughters of college basketball coaches whose budding friendship is thwarted by the beef their dads have with each other, going back to the 1990s. It was inspired by my local basketball rivalry here in Cincinnati, Ohio—one of the best rivalries in the whole country, to be honest—between University of Cincinnati and Xavier University, as well as my love of March Madness. It has everything you could want in a story, in my opinion: friendship drama, intergenerational family mysteries, sports rivalries, plenty of basketball, a new crush, a dunking nun, etc.

If you could, what is a piece of advice that you would give to your younger writing self?

Be more okay with making mistakes—this applies to both writing and life. As a kid, I was very much a perfectionist and it’s only as an adult that I’ve learned to be kinder to myself. Some of our best learning experiences in life come from failure.

A special thank you to Jenn Bishop for sharing with us! 

Jenn Bishop is the author of five novels for young readers, including the Parents’ Choice Gold Award winner Things You Can’t Say. Her books have been named Junior Library Guild selections and Bank Street College of Education best books and have been finalists for state book awards. She currently calls Cincinnati, Ohio, home.

Bishop received a degree in English from the University of Chicago, an experience she recalls as “basically heaven for someone who loves reading and talking about nerdy things.” And it didn’t hurt that her favorite library on campus, Harper Library, could pass for Hogwarts.

Following her undergrad degree, Jenn went on to graduate school at Simmons University to become a librarian and further explore her love of reading and

books. Yearning to publish herself, Jenn got her MFA at Vermont College of Fine Arts where she went on to learn from some of the very best writers in the business of children’s books – Rita Williams-Garcia, Elizabeth Partridge, A.S. King, to name a few.

Her first novel, The Distance to Home, came out in 2016. 14 Hollow Road followed in 2017, and Things You Can’t Say came out right before the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. Where We Used to Roam was released in March 2021. Her fifth novel, Free Throws, Friendship, and Other Things We Fouled Up was published in October 2023.”

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