Interview with Jena Leigh, Author of Revival

Jena Leigh is the author of Revival, a YA romance with super powers, secret government agencies, and a really hot guy!  She dropped by the virtual offices recently to chat about her book.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Jena Leigh] Caffeine addict, writer, shameless geek, freckle-faced lover of music and slave to the written word. I live on dreams and coffee.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Revival?

[Jena Leigh] Revival is the story of Alex Parker, a girl who finds out during her junior year of high school that her world is nothing like it appears to be. When her life is turned upside down by a fire-wielding hit man and she’s rescued from a burning bookstore by the handsome—if somewhat exasperating—Declan, she discovers that she can harness powers beyond her wildest imagining. Now, with the help of her new friends, she must not only face off against shadowy figures from her past, but also the government she once thought protected her.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Jena Leigh] Like a lot creative types, I’m hopelessly addicted to coffee. When I was still living in North Carolina, I lived within walking distance of this fantastic coffee shop called Bohemia. They used to serve up their cafe latte’s in a giant blue mug, with different designs and patterns drawn into the foam on top. One day the barista drew an amazing image of a bird in flight… and it looked a little to me like a phoenix in flames. While I sat there staring appreciatively at the image (and having an internal debate that went something like, "I can’t drink this! It’s too beautiful!" and "It’s not artwork, it’s a beverage. Stop staring and drink it, you weirdo…") I conjured up the mental image of a young girl running through a burning bookstore. The image was so vivid and full of possibility that I wound up ignoring my coffee completely in favor of writing out a scene that would later become the opening of Chapter 4 in Revival. Inspiration in a cup of Joe! I did get around to drinking the coffee eventually, although it was pretty cold by that point. The rest of the story as well as the characters all developed out of that one scene.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Alex?

[Jena Leigh] Loyal, evolving, determined.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Declan had a theme song, what would it be?

[Jena Leigh] It’s tough to pick just one! Although I will say that "I Stand Alone" by Theophilus London is a perfect Declan song. He’s always been something of a loner and for years his bad attitude and acerbic wit helped him to keep the people in his life at arms length. That all changes when Alex shows up on the scene, and the lyrics of "I Stand Alone" capture how he finds himself falling for her in spite of himself.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Alex won’t leave the house without.

[Jena Leigh] Shoes! Although to understand that one, you’ll need to read the story…

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Declan’s pockets?

[Jena Leigh] You’d never find a house key (mostly because, if the door was locked, he could simply teleport inside), spearmint gum (though you would almost certainly find cinnamon), or an iPod with pop music on it (he’s more of a punk-rock/alt-country sort of guy).

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Alex’s greatest regret?

[Jena Leigh] Early on in the story, Alex learns that she was the reason for the deaths of many people—including her own parents—when she was a small child. When a madman set his sights on young Alex, others came to her defense… and many of them lost their lives in the process. Once she learns the truth about her past, that becomes her greatest regret.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Jena Leigh] When it comes to authors whose works have been an influence to me, no one stands out more than Neil Gaiman and Meg Cabot. I’m also influenced by my own life experiences, my love of science fiction and comic books, and by the places I travel to. All of my experiences—both the good and the bad—influence the way I write my characters and the various turns their adventures take.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Jena Leigh] A computer equipped with the Scrivener writing program, at least two cups of coffee in my system, and music (or the sound of rain) to help me tune out the world around me.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Jena Leigh] I just finished reading Jenny Lawson’s memoir Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) and absolutely loved it. Lawson (a.k.a. The Bloggess) has the most fantastic sense of humor! Her life experiences made for excellent reading material and it was the first time in ages that a book made me laugh until I cried at least a dozen times over. It’s one of those books that I plan to force into the hands of everyone I know, so that they can enjoy it too.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Jena Leigh] When I was in elementary school, I saw my first rerun of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and soon found myself on a desperate mission to read everything about the quirky director that I could. One day, I got lucky and discovered a tattered copy of an Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators novel in the school library. I read it in a day and began searching high and low for every other book in the series that I could find. It wasn’t long before I discovered other young-adult and middle-grade novels at my local public library and began working my way through every book they had! I haven’t stopped reading since.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Jena Leigh] I love to travel! Taking road trips with friends and flying off to foreign places is something I’ll always enjoy. I think that wanderlust is what inspired me to write about characters with the ability to teleport—to travel instantaneously from one place to another. It’s an ability that puts the entire world within your reach. If I ever woke up one day with a superpower, that’s the one I’d want to have!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Jena Leigh] You can find me over on my website (, or send me a message by e-mail at jena[at]jenaleighbooks[dot]com. I’m also on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Google+! I love meeting new people, so don’t be afraid to drop me a line and say hello! 🙂

Goodreads Author Profile:


Twitter: @jenaleighbooks




Revival’s Amazon link:

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

You can order Revival from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below. Available in both print and digital (the eBook is only 2.99!)


More 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.

More 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.