Interview: Brenna Jeanneret
A photograph of Little Thoughts Press Issue Five: New Beginnings with a sneak peek of the poem "A Bike is Just a Bike" by Brenna Jeanneret. A purple page with white text.
Brenna Jeanneret is a neurodiverse kidlit creator. A kid at heart, she spends as much time as possible road-tripping and rock climbing with her husband and son in their VW van. Her debut picture book, The Law of Birthdays, comes out with Cardinal Rule Press, Spring 2024. She is agented by Dan Cramer at Page Turner Lit and co-hosts the kidlit podcast You May Contribute A Verse. Find her on Twitter @Brennajeanneret
Little Thoughts Press: It is so cool that you have your own podcast! Please tell us all about You May Contribute A Verse. In what ways has the work you've done on your podcast influenced or changed your own writing?
Brenna Jeanneret: Thank you so much! You May Contribute a Verse is actually the result of two failed podcasts! ReWilding Motherhood, run by me, focused on outdoor adventuring as a mom, and What It Takes To Make run by Josh, my co-host focused on diverse creative pursuits and how things are made.
Josh and I both found that running a podcast alone left little room for writing so we joined forces to create a kidlit-focused podcast. Having Josh as a partner has been incredible. And splitting the work in half has made it possible to write and podcast. I have to take a moment here to shout out our Podcast Wizard, Jon Seymour. He approached us with his mad editing skills and has streamlined, organized, and basically made the whole process more efficient! We are so lucky to have him!
This is a fantastic question and one I don’t often get to address! Writing can be a lonely endeavor but doing the podcast has made me realize no one is in this alone. I love hearing about things like Ame Dyckman’s passion, Justin Colon’s re-directions, Elisa Boxer’s vulnerability, Madeleine Gunhart’s mixture of Tarot and writing, and Betsy Bird’s humor!! All of it reminds me why I write and inspires me to put myself out there.
And I will say this, my favorite thing about the podcast is the joy it captures. We all hear no a lot but the podcast has been this respite where (almost) everyone says yes! I love being able to send this positivity out into the kidlit universe along with our weekly book reviews and Community Shoutouts to help spread the joy.
Lastly, if you’re a listener, I just want to say thank you so much. Your support means everything to us.
Little Thoughts Press: Issue 5: New Beginnings is all about fresh starts and new experiences. Can you tell us how you started writing kid-lit and what drew you to creating stories for young readers?
Brenna Jeanneret: I have always been a writer. I still have a journal from when I was eight! I loved creative writing in grade school. In college, I journaled, a lot, because well, college is full of angsty drama that needs to be written about! Then I wrote about rock climbing, hiking, and adventuring for the Outdoor Women’s Alliance. I was a sponsored climber for a bit and wrote product reviews. I wrote funny articles for Elephant Journal and parenting articles for Hike It Baby and Raise Vegan. And then, when my son was four months old, as most of us do, I wrote my first children’s book. It. Was. Awful. But I loved the idea of writing books to make kids feel seen and to make them laugh, so I kept writing.
Little Thoughts Press: What do you find most challenging and rewarding about writing for a young audience?
Brenna Jeanneret: The most challenging thing is trying to distill big ideas into a tiny space!
The most rewarding thing is when I can actually do it.
Little Thoughts Press: Which kid-lit authors and books were your favorites growing up?
Brenna Jeanneret: My dad used to read a chapter a night to my sister and me. My favorite was Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I loved the bizarre imagination and nutty characters.
Little Thoughts Press: And what about today? Any kid-lit writers you love and want to shout out?
Brenna Jeanneret: Well, I love anything by Angel Tate, Mari Rodriquez, Emily Holewczynski, Sharon Korzelius, and Josh Monken!
And I also love the work of Helen Yoon, Beth Ferry, Lucy Ruth Cummins, Maddie Frost, Charlene Chua, CK Malone, and Tameka Fryer Brown.
Little Thoughts Press: What advice would you give to young writers?
Brenna Jeanneret: Anything is possible. If you want to be a writer, write until you get to where you want to go, and then write until you get to the next place. No one can stop you, but you.
Little Thoughts Press: Is there anything else you wish I had asked? Any upcoming projects, publications, or other news you'd like to share?
Brenna Jeanneret: Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me! We have a lot of great stuff on the horizon for the podcast including plans for merch so be on the lookout!!
I’d also like to share that my debut picture book, The Law of Birthdays, a book about the importance of choice and body autonomy, comes out with Cardinal Rule Press in Spring 2024!