Ask the Author: Jennifer Dugan

Author photo by Amber Hooper

What would you like readers to know about you? 

My name is Jennifer Dugan and my debut novel Hot Dog Girl released April 30, 2019. While I always wanted to be a writer, I didn’t start seriously writing until 2009 (and most of those early novels should stay locked in a drawer!) I tend to write the kind of stories I wished for when I was growing up: stories about queer characters, complicated family dynamics, and teens who are a bit of a mess trying to figure out life—and themselves. I’m so grateful for everyone that has taken the time to read Hot Dog Girl and found themselves connecting with my story— all of your emails, posts and tweets have made for an amazing first month as a published author. 


What is your book about for those who haven’t read it? 

Hot Dog Girl is a queer coming of age story about a girl named Elouise Parker, who often is her own worst enemy. We follow along as she schemes to save an amusement park, win the heart of her crush, and have the best summer of her life… all while dressed as a hot dog. 


What has been your inspiration for writing your book? 

The first spark of inspiration came while visiting a local amusement park and seeing some costumed characters. I thought it would be such a fun setting for a story! I also knew right away that my main character, Elouise, was going to be a bit of a mess, like I and many others were in high school. Ultimately, I wanted to take the quirky, scheming best friend and pull her out of the sidekick role and into the spotlight. 


What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write? 

That’s so hard! My favorite scene in the book is a major spoiler, so I’ll have to go with my second favorite, which is a scene where Elouise is trying to set her best friend up on a date. There is a terribly awkward conversation that takes place in the break room that I had a blast writing. 


What books or authors inspired you to become a writer? 

Growing up, I was obsessed with the Sweet Valley Twins/Sweet Valley High stories… and I also fell in love with Stephen King’s books at a young age. So, I’d have to say they were probably two of my biggest inspirations when I was a baby writer. But it’s really books that are coming out now that inspire me to keep going! Some of my recent favorites are Just South of Home by Karen Strong, These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling, and The Opposite of Always by Justin Reynolds. I felt so inspired and excited to write more of my own stories after finishing each of them. 


What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book? 

The best advice I have is to just do it! This industry can be very tough and fickle, so don’t worry about writing to trends. By the time you finish yours, the industry will have moved on anyway—so write the book that you want to see in the world and be proud of it! 

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