Brenna Ehrlich spoke with Jeff Zentner about penning books on his phone, why he would enjoy inhabiting a consciousness forever, working out his fear of death through writing and how he would give a stranger a walking tour of his life.
I hope there’s an afterlife. I really do. I enjoy inhabiting a consciousness and I would like to keep doing so.
You write all your books on Google Docs on your phone. How the hell do you do this? Seriously?
It’s the only way I can write and publish books, which is a very fun thing to do, so I make it work! I think it’s way easier than drafting longhand, which many writers do.
Religion is, as it’s always been for me, a source of tension and comfort; a source of frustration and a source of hope; a source of community and a source of feeling lonely. My current conception of the afterlife is a place where everyone pretty much gets whatever reward they were hoping for, regardless of what faith they belong to. That’s the afterlife I think Sauce Crew inhabits. I hope there’s an afterlife. I really do. I enjoy inhabiting a consciousness and I would like to keep doing so. But only if it’s a fun afterlife. I’m not interested in burning in hell.
If you had to give someone a tour of your life in one day, a la Goodbye Days, where would you bring them?
Wake up in the morning, do some dawn kayaking on the Harpeth River. Go to Cracker Barrel for breakfast. Sit by my firepit for a while and read. Lunch at Bombay Palace. Take a nap. Wake up, read some more. Go on a walk at dusk. Get some fried chicken from Publix for dinner. Eat it with some fresh chocolate chip cookies. Go to this massive used bookstore near me called McKay’s. Watch some Netflix.
I write about death because it’s a real part of life. Also, I fear losing people I love, so I work out that fear through writing.
Death features prominently in your books thus far — and in the young adult genre as a whole (suicide narratives are currently very popular). Why do you think this is so? Are you worried, at all, that this current trend might be romanticizing death in some way? Or do you think it’s important that teens delve into these realms and investigate?
I can only speak for myself — I write about death because it’s a real part of life. Also, I fear losing people I love, so I work out that fear through writing.
Please give us a tour of your favorite tattoos in words and tell us where and why you got them.
My The Serpent King and Goodbye Days tattoos are fairly self-explanatory. I got those at Black 13 and Sage and Serpent here in Nashville.
I got pens and an inkwell when I decided to start writing, but before I’d written anything. It was to commit myself so I would never have to tell anyone it represented a dead dream. I got it at Black 13.
I got pumpkins because I love fall and to celebrate getting a book deal. I got it at Black 13.
Please describe the process of writing, for you, using only the names of garden tools.
Shovel, shovel, shovel, shovel, shovel, rake, rake, rake.
Please do the same with music, but using household items commonly found in a junk drawer.
Empty pen, empty pen, empty pen, empty pen.
Curated by: Brenna Ehrlich
Conducted by: Email
Edited by: Morgan Enos
Published: November 30, 2017
Total questions: 7
Word count: 582
Reading time: Two minutes
author, Black 13, Bombay Palace, book, chicken, comfort, cookies, Cracker Barrel, death, Debbie Harry, empty, fall, fear, fiction, firepit, frustration, Goodbye Days, Google Docs, Iggy Pop, Jeff Zentner, loneliness, Nashville, Nick Cave, novel, pen, pumpkin, rake, sage, serpent, shovel, tattoo, Tennessee, tension, The Serpent King, writer, young adult
About the guest curator
Brenna Ehrlich aspires to write a novel that’s a classic album. She enjoys taking solitary trips to distant locations and scoring the whole experience with the perfect book, record and restaurant. She often dreams (literally, while sleeping) of getting lost in unforgiving locales sans shoes or socks.
Related conversations W