When Jennifer Sargent, a full-time cardiac nurse practitioner at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, finds a moment to pause, she whips out her laptop and begins typing.
In less than a year, she finished three novels for her “Iron Mountain” series, most of which were written during her kids’ volleyball and horseback riding lessons.
“It’s such an exciting feeling when you feel the story coming to you,” Sargent said. “It’s like it’s knocking the back of my brain. And, I listen to that.”
Sargent said she’ll even find herself waking up in the middle of the night with a plot idea. She keeps a notebook nearby for those moments of inspiration.
“I don’t see this as a burden,” she said. “When it comes to me, I’m going to put it down. I’m afraid if I don’t write it down, I’m going to forget the storyline.”
Sargent lives in Clermont with her three children and husband. In November 2020, she released her first novel, “Protecting Tova,” a self-published book that is set in post-apocalyptic North Georgia, 100 years after a great extinction event. Sargent said the story takes place in a mountain territory called Iron Mountain, which was inspired by Blairsville, Georgia. Mutated beasts and “savages” live beyond the thick forest and stone wall surrounding the land.
The novel follows the story of 18-year-old Tova, a strong, independent female protagonist who grew up, “abused as a child in more ways than one.” In the midst of the chaos surrounding her life, she becomes romantically drawn to Pierce, a 20-year-old man who Sargent describes as “protective in nature and not willing to back down.”
Sargent recently released the second book to the series, “Defending Pierce,” which follows the cliff-hanger from the first novel. The author said the book serves as the end of both Tova’s and Pierce’s chapter.
“Just to see how their relationship pans out and comes together, you ultimately get to see them have their happily ever after,” Sargent said. “You get a breather.”
“Defending Pierce” is available for paperback and Kindle download via Amazon.com. Sargent will hold a book signing for her first and second books from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 8, at Revival Gifts and Apparel in Cleveland. The two novels will be available for purchase in-person for $20. Her books are written under the pen name of Havana Wilder.
Sargent said she gained inspiration for starting her first in the series after devouring a plethora of young adult fiction novels while sick with COVID-19 last summer. She wrote the book in six weeks, then quickly dove into the second. She said “Defending Pierce” took her around three weeks to complete. The third book of “Iron Mountain” is set to release on June 11, and the fourth will make an appearance this September.
Sargent explained that book three will follow the perspectives of Dani-Jo, who is Tova’s best friend, and Kage. However, Tova and Pierce will still make an appearance as supporting characters.
For now, Sargent said she has no plans of stopping her novel streak. Instead of outlining her plot points before she writes, the author said she moves fluidly from start to finish.
“My brain is constantly on go,” she said. “I guess I would say I’m a pantser not a planner. I fly by the seat of my pants.”
If readers take anything away from “Defending Pierce” or other books in the series, Sargent said she hopes they feel moved, whether by sadness or joy. While writing about near death experience in her books, the author said she can’t help but tear up for her characters.
“You have to kind of stop and reflect and say, ‘They’re just fictional,’” Sargent said. “But, you can feel it tugging at your heartstrings, which is pretty amazing. Anytime an author can make people feel any type of emotion when they're reading, I feel like you’ve hit the nail on the head, and you’ve done a good job.”