“I would not have considered myself a writer. I had written things for my kids, but it felt like a hobby, not a career I could pursue.”
Jenny Elder-Moke is now living her passion. Her first book, ‘Hood,’ was published by Disney-Hyperion in June. It’s a young adult fiction novel that follows the daughter of Robin Hood, Isabelle.
“I got to tell my version of things. I was a little girl, and I have a little girl. I'm constantly thinking of what it means to be a female-presenting out in the world. I can be forgiving and still be strong. I can be loving and still be a fighter. There's not one particular way that a girl has to present. So I hope that young readers will see that in Isabelle.”
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in marketing, Jenny went to work for a small publishing company in Austin. During that time, she realized she wanted something more.
“I was living a whole life, and I was writing on the side. Any industry in which you want to become a professional, you have to put in that time and effort to build your craft and skill set. This time period showed me that.”
Jenny worked on ‘Hood’ off and on for eight years. When she decided she wanted to pursue writing full time, she knew Austin Community College District (ACC) was the right choice. Throughout the years, she has taken multiple courses that sparked her interest. This time she enrolled in creative writing courses to develop the skills she needed to become a published author.
“I knew I always wanted to tell a story but was too afraid to write a whole manuscript. One day I sat down and did it. It was the single most intoxicating writing experience. Then I realized I had no concept of the craft of writing or sentence structure. I thought I better go learn how to write.”
At the time, courses were taught by former ACC professor Elizabeth Garton Scanlon. Like all faculty members in the Creative Writing Department, Scanlon is a published author.
“Having access to somebody who was a professional in the field, which has always been my experience at ACC, helps give context to the information we were learning. A lot of people don't understand the industry in general or how it works. It is nice when you have access to people who are actively doing it.”
Jenny says it also anchored the class to prepare students for what they will face.
“One component of the class was learning how to give and receive critique in workshops. It’s something you can’t get anywhere else. Learning to be an editor is what made my writing better.”
It wasn’t just faculty who inspired Jenny.
“Writing, in particular, is a solitary act. When inventing a story, it can feel like you're the only one in the world doing it. Being able to go to class and meet other students who want the same thing is enlightening.”
Jenny’s career is just getting started. She has a two-book series planned for release in the next two years.
For more information on how to start following your passion, visit austincc.edu/register.
Photo credit: Brenna Hodge
HOOD cover art credit: Phil Buchanan