January 18, 2014

Author Interview: Jena Leigh

Welcome to Turning Pages!

And please give a warm welcome to Jena Leigh! She's the author of Revival, the first book in The Variant series, and the second book Resistance, which is being released on February 11, 2014! 

Revival (The Variant Series, #1)
Author: Jena Leigh
Check out on Goodreads!
Purchase on Barnes & Noble and Amazon!
About the Book:

"Possessing the uncanny ability to fry a television set from twenty paces can really wreck a girl’s social life.

If you’re looking for proof, just ask sixteen-year-old Alexandra Parker. After catching her boyfriend in the arms of the prettiest girl in school, she made the journey from social elite to social pariah in a haze of electricity and exploding electronics. But finding herself at the bottom of Bay View High’s social hierarchy was nothing compared to the shock of discovering who—and what—she really is.

After being zapped out of a burning bookstore by the mysterious Declan—a hero nearly as handsome as he is infuriating—Alex finds herself under the protection of the powerful Grayson family. It’s through them that she learns the truth: that the world she’s always known is nothing like it appears to be... and that she has far more in common with them than she might want to believe.

Now, on the run from a fire-wielding hit man and a secretive government organization, Alex must navigate a strange and treacherous new world filled with superhuman mutants known as Variants. As she begins to unravel the many secrets of her family’s past, she uncovers the real reason for her parents’ death twelve years earlier—and finds out that the threat to her family, and to everyone she cares about, is still dangerously real."

Author Interview:

Jena, first and foremost, tell us a little about yourself and your book? (Something outside of the synopsis, something more a little behind the scene glimpse into your story).

Jena Leigh:  I think the best (and briefest) summary I’ve ever written about myself is the description I used for my Blogger profile: “Caffeine addict, YA author, shameless geek, freckle-faced lover of music and slave to the written word. I live on dreams and coffee.” That pretty well sums me up! The only thing missing is a mention of my affinity for skittles and unexpected road trips, and my penchant for writing nonsensical e-mails to friends at two in the morning.

As for a behind the scenes glimpse into the creation of Revival, here’s something not many people know—the original spark for the Variant series came to me in the form of my morning coffee. One day at my hometown coffee shop, the barista had drawn the shape of a phoenix into the foam on my latte. The image set my mind to wandering and I spent the next half hour writing out a scene where a young girl was being chased by a wall of flames through a burning bookstore. That piece would eventually become the opening scene of Chapter Four in Revival.

When did you start writing stories, and what got you interested?

Jena Leigh: I first began writing stories in middle school. Back in those days, I was a socially awkward preteen who usually preferred the company of books to actual people. (In that regard, not much has changed in the last twenty years.) I found myself growing increasingly frustrated with stories that weren’t given a proper ending.

Television, books, movies… If I was drawn into a new world, a new story, and that story was left without a proper ending (or with an ending that didn’t feel right to me), I usually couldn’t resist the urge to write out a new conclusion of my own. My earliest stories were fanfiction. I loved to take familiar characters and put them in new and exciting situations, delving deeper into their fictional worlds (and giving them the happily ever after that their creators might have withheld). That love of world building eventually translated into my love of series writing and, as time went by and I grew more confident, I began to create new worlds and characters of my own to write about.

When writing/publishing Revival what was one of the biggest challenges you had to overcome? How did you deal with that bump in the road?

Jena Leigh: The toughest thing to overcome in the publication of Revival was probably my own inexperience with self-publishing! I spent months researching the process from beginning to end before deciding that it was the right fit for my work and for me.  It was tough to put everything on hold like that, as I’m usually a pretty impulsive person. It took ages to learn the ropes and figure out the best way to approach the publishing and marketing process. Patience paid off in the end, however, and I couldn’t be happier about taking the plunge into self-publishing!

If you could give a young writer any tip, what would it be?

Jena Leigh: Write constantly and read everything you can get your hands on. It seems like such an obvious piece of advice, but it’s quite possibly the most important things you can do to improve your writing.

Obviously no one has superhuman powers in our world (I could only WISH!), but are any of the characters in Revival based on real people? Alexandra? Her ex-boyfriend? Man candy, Declan?

Jena Leigh: Almost every character in the series is made up of traits and habits of people that I actually know... But I try not to base any of the characters entirely on any one person from my life. So, for the most part, none of them are exact copies.

Can you describe to us what a Variant is? Does each one have different sets of powers?

Jena Leigh: In Alex’s world, Variants are basically superhuman mutants that possess fantastic abilities. Even though they look and sound just like normal humans, they’re actually capable of some pretty amazing things. Some Variants (like Declan and Alex’s Aunt Cil) can transport themselves across great distances in the blink of an eye using teleportation. Others can move things with their mind, while still more can turn themselves virtually invisible.

Telepathy, telekinesis, fire and water wielding—the list of possible Variant powers goes on and on. And while the emergence of Variant abilities were a natural progression in human evolution, Alex Parker’s ability is entirely manmade—and its an ability that the world has seen only once before… An ability created by the same man that murdered her parents, years earlier. It’s this unusual ability that quickly turns Alex’s life on its head and transforms her into one of the most powerful—and unstable—Variants on the planet.

Can you give us a hint to what we should be expecting in your second book?

Jena Leigh: In Resistance, book two in the Variant series (due out February 11th, 2014), the stakes are raised even higher for Alex and the gang. As Alex struggles to get a grip on her newfound powers, she’s faced with a far more daunting assignment—survive the last few months of her junior year without accidentally losing control and leveling Bay View High.

But the risk of outing herself and the Variant population at large would be a lot easier to handle if the Agency wasn’t still breathing down her neck… and if Declan weren’t quite so distracting in his newfound role as Alex’s bodyguard.  As sparks of all kinds start flying, Alex is left struggling to keep her head above water and her heart in one piece. And when her freedom lands itself in the Agency’s crosshairs, Alex will be faced with the fight of her life.

About the Author:

Born and raised in Tampa, Florida, Jena Leigh spent ten years in the mountains of North Carolina before returning home to the lightning capital of North America. A shameless geek, she loves bad sci-fi movies, Skittles, writing cracktastic e-mails to friends and taking shenanigan-filled road trips to faraway concerts. She has a degree in English from Appalachian State University. REVIVAL is her first novel.

Author's Links:



-MUST be 13 or older to enter.
-Winners have 48 hours to respond before new winners are chosen.
-ONE winner will receive a SIGNED hardcopy of REVIVAL and RESISTANCE (Be aware you will have to wait for the second book until it is published in FEB).
-FIVE winners will be chosen to win e-copies of REVIVAL and RESISTANCE (Be aware you will have to wait for the second book until it is published in FEB).


  1. Hi, Lisa! Thank you again for participating in the tour! I enjoyed your questions for the interview! :)

  2. Thank you bunches, Lisa, for taking time to host the Revival Blog Tour and for the wonderful interview with author Jena! ~Annabell + Bridget, TeamNerd Reviews


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