Jenny is a fellow Orlandoian (is that what we’re called?). Her novels include We Are Not From Here and the fantastically named Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia. Her responses to the Write Now questions are a wonderful glimpse into pandemic-relality. Life is disrupted but hope persists.
Who are you?
My name is Jenny Torres Sanchez and I’m an author living in Orlando, Florida.
What do you write?
I write novels for young adults. I think adolescence is such an interesting time in our lives; it’s when the innocence of childhood begins to fall away and the reality of how complicated and flawed our world can be begins to set in. My writing explores those complications and flaws. My characters tend to be teens who feel like outsiders, who are trying to make sense of their world, their place in it, and the cards they’ve been dealt. I actually started writing as a teen trying to make sense of the world, so it makes sense to me where I am now.
Sometimes people might think that because I write for young adults, there are certain things I avoid in my writing. But teens can handle tough issues and they really appreciate honesty. So that’s what I deliver. I love what I do. I feel really lucky and honored to write for teens, to have these kinds of honest conversation with them in my books.
Where do you write?
Before the pandemic, I used to write every morning, on my laptop, with an Americano close at hand. But now? Now, I write whenever, wherever, however, and if I can. Things are different and, for me anyway, it’s impossible to carry on as before. My whole family is working and learning from home. I’m actually homeschooling the youngest and even as I typed this answer, I had to stop about four or five times to help her with an assignment. So my writing has taken a hit. So has my creativity. I’m okay admitting that. I’m just managing. I scribble here and there, type out passages on my phone when they come, sit at my desk and work on a scene when I can, but I’m not holding myself to any schedule. Mostly I’m just trusting that the story I’m writing is still coming together somehow and eventually, it will come.
Why do you write?
I write because I’m still trying to make sense of the world, too. Of course I know it’s always going to be a confusing place — a place that doesn’t make sense and is unfair and where good doesn’t always triumph. Some would even say rarely triumphs. But I like to work through all of that in my writing. It’s my way of trying to understand it all anyway, of trying to understand people, of talking about the things we need to talk about. Writing is my way of working through the dark and to find my way to the beauty and hope in our world. Because ultimately, it’s always there, too.
How do you overcome writer’s block?
I’m a huge believer in the idea that art inspires art. So when I have trouble writing, I turn to other forms of art. I find inspiration in going to museums or flipping through art and photography books. I stare at works from my favorite painters. I read a lot of poetry, searching for some spark in a line or a word. And I listen to a lot of music. All those things help to fill my creative well and get me back on track.
Bonus: What do you enjoy doing when not writing?
When I’m not writing, I like to paint, cook, and visit record stores.