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An Interview with Jaclyn Duden


Jaclyn graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing from Coe College. She has several poems published in various publications. She currently lives in Des Moines, Iowa, with her wife and cats and dogs. She spends her free time with her wife and family. Jaclyn is currently working on earning a master’s degree in social work at Grand View University.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I was first inspired to write by my fifth-grade teacher. She assigned one of those old-school composition books to each of us, and we had to journal in them daily. I have poems in that notebook from back then. One is about the delight of finding a full Easter basket on Easter morning. It’s only five lines.

What inspired you to start writing this book?

I was wondering what it would be like to send a journal around town and try to get anyone willing to write their thoughts. I have started that project three times now. Each journal gets lost eventually. So I decided I should write a fiction version that wouldn’t be as easy to misplace. I might still keep trying to do a live version.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

I am from Denver, Colorado, originally. I love that it has so many of its own little characteristics and quirks. I decided to have the book take place there. The character who starts it writes to Denver as a whole, hence the title “Dear Denver.”

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

I think there would need to be a song to represent each kind of weather because Colorado can have all four seasons in one day. Maybe “Hot in Herre” by Nelly, “Cylcone” by Baby Bash, “Ice, Ice Baby,” by Vanilla Ice, and “Pocket Full of Sunshine” by Natasha Bedingfield. Can you tell I’m a kid of the 90s?

Describe your dream book cover.

My main character is a charming homeless man. I picture him holding some kittens in worn clothes, standing on a bridge with the mountains in the distance.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I am a social worker down to the bones. Writing runs in my blood, but helping people holds me up. I could never work a job that didn’t involve positively touching the lives of others.

What books did you read (for research or comfort) throughout your writing process?

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros helped me get a feel for how to weave separate stories into one setting. Otherwise, I read books that struck my interest, perhaps for comfort. One of my favorites was Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

I envision my perfect reader as someone who wants to enjoy a good read but can feel connected to the characters as they journey through a snapshot of their lives. I picture my readers laughing, crying, and maybe even feeling angry with some of these characters.

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