Jeff Zentner’s ‘Goodbye Days’ broke our heart (a good 10 times) and then put it back together again. It’s honestly a reading rollercoaster that you won’t get over quickly.
Carver Briggs never would have thought a text message could ruin his life and take the lives of his three best friends, but now he can’t stop blaming himself for the death of Eli, Blake and Mars. When Blake’s grandmother asks Carver to have a goodbye day with her, Carver is finally allowed to let go of his guilt and begin to move on.
We chatted with Jeff about the majesty of Nashville, music and all things writerly.
Describe ‘Goodbye Days’ in emojis.
Music is a huge part of ‘Goodbye Days’ – is there a song that encapsulates the novel for you? I think probably “Avalanche” by Leonard Cohen. It’s named in the book and what Carver is going through is an emotional avalanche that threatens to bury him
Do you write to music? Not usually. If I do, it’s only to wordless music because otherwise my brain snags on the words like Velcro.
What made you decide to move your focus from music to writing novels? I decided to start writing novels after I began volunteering at Tennessee Teen Rock Camp and fell in love with the way teens interact with the art they love. I wanted to create for that audience but by then I was both too old and uninclined to make the sort of music marketed to teens. So publishing was the way to go.
What changed about your writing process? I started to have to think in terms of story arc. When you write a song, the person providing the narrative voice of the song doesn’t need to grow or change in any way, really. That’s different than in novels.
What is it about Nashville that makes it such a mecca for music? It’s really a hotbed for creativity in general, but mostly music of course. I think there’s something really special about having crammed into one relatively small space so many creative people who work hard on fulfilling their dreams.
What’s the coolest thing you ever experienced on the Nashville music scene? While part of the Nashville music scene, I got to play on a recording with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, and Thurston Moore.
Please send us a snap of where you work – we love to see where the magic happens!
Desperate to get your hands on this gorgeous read now? You should be. We promise you’ll love it (and cry your eyes out, too). Grab your copy quick.