Publishers' Preview: Fall 2023: Five Questions for Jen Ferguson

This interview originally appeared in the September/October 2023 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Fall 2023, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions.

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In Those Pink Mountain Nights, a pizza place in an Albertan ski resort town is the locus for an intense novel about friendship, romance, and betrayal. 

1. It’s weirdly unusual to see a YA novel set in a workplace. Did you have a job in high school? 

I grew up middle-class. While my parents couldn’t buy me everything, I didn’t need a job in high school. I wanted one. As soon as I turned sixteen, I was hired, at, yes, a pizza place. I spent that first paycheck on a snowboard. After that, I spent my paychecks on shampoo, hideous bright orange clothing, lunches, gasoline, a Girl Guide trip to Switzerland. I used my money so my parents didn’t have to use theirs. We were given a lot of responsibility. Because my boss was really shy, she had me act as the manager with customers. I loved it. It shaped me. 

2. You capture so well the intensity of teen friend groups—could you live that way now? 

Honestly, a lot of queer friendships/familyships are intense like this. I moved to Iowa a year ago and don’t have many local friends. But I have so many incredible, devoted friends who text, DM, or exist on Signal. These people are there for anything, especially radically fighting unjust systems and, also, they have good memes. 

3. What is the first baby step you can recommend to someone who is depressed? 

There are no baby steps. It’s all hard. But like Berlin in the book, you tell someone. You tell family, a friend, a doctor. You get the help you need, including meds and therapy, whatever you and your medical team decide together. 

4. How can readers find out more about the Highway of Tears? 

On, you will find stories, advocacy, and a community working toward #NoMoreStolenSisters. Readers will learn that the U.S., Canada, and Mexico have a history of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit People. There are local advocacy groups that would love support in many ways: at marches, with donations, and by people continuing to educate themselves, their families, and their friends. 

5. I see you are a diehard pineapple fan, but what won’t you eat on a pizza? 

Meat. I’m a vegetarian. 

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Photo: Mel Shea.

Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton

Editor Emeritus Roger Sutton was editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc., from 1996-2021. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his MA in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a BA from Pitzer College in 1978.

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