Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Meet Our 2021 Conference Faculty: Jenny Elder Moke

Meet the faculty of the 2021 Austin SCBWI Writers & Illustrators Working Conference. We’ve asked all our faculty members to answer 4 quick questions so we can get to know them better.

Jenny Elder Moke, Author

Jenny Elder Moke writes young adult fiction in an attempt to recapture the shining infinity of youth. Her debut novel, HOOD, released in 2020 and was a JLG Selection, a Mayor’s Book Club selection, and received critical acclaim. Her new series kicks off in 2021 with CURSE OF THE SPECTER QUEEN. When she is not writing, she’s gathering story ideas from her daily adventures with her two irredeemable rapscallions and honing her ninja skills as a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Jenny lives in Denver, CO with her husband and two children.

Jenny Elder Moke
Author Jenny Elder Moke

What attracted you to children’s books?

I love middle grade books because they feature characters struggling with identity, growing up, and real world issues but they always seemed to be anchored in a place of hope.

What’s the best part of your job?

I’m going to cheat and write two things, because I consider that I have two jobs. When it comes to writing, hands down my favorite part is the daydreaming and planning. It’s when the story is in its purest form, just an exciting brain soup I can escape to any time I want. For publishing, my favorite part is hearing from happy readers (especially kids!). That feedback gives me the energy to keep going when everything else is hard.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

For writing, I’d definitely say that first BIG revision. It’s the most work to do, and it can often feel overwhelming. Learning to break it down into workable parts and take my time is a challenge. For publishing, I’d say it’s managing expectations. There is a lot of noise out there when you start publishing, and if you let it get in your head it can drown everything else out. So learning to keep your eyes on your own page, learning to appreciate what you have, is the biggest challenge.

What’s the best piece of advice you were given that helped drive your career?

To learn to pivot. When what you’re doing isn’t working, don’t keep beating your head against the same wall. Try a new way in – a conference (like this one!), a Twitter pitch competition, a new genre or story, etc. Never give up (really – never EVER give up), and be willing to try something new or different.

Come see Jenny Elder Moke at the 2021 Austin SCBWI conference, May 1-2, 2021.