Writer in Residence Inspires Students with Story of Perseverance

Writer in Residence Inspires Students with Story of Perseverance

During her recent visit to SCH, this year’s Dempsey Writer in Residence, former SCH librarian Jenny Perinovic, outlined for students the sometimes painstaking process of getting published but with a positive message: Stay at it. 

After 14 years of research and writing, Perinovic’s debut historical mystery, A Deadly Endeavor, was published in March 2024, but not before she endured 583 rejections. 

“There were books sent to me that were so good, they made me weep,” said Perinovic in her discussion with an Upper School English class last week, “and they never got published. There are so many books that are incredible that are still sitting on someone's hard drive. Books have to have the right publisher at the right time.” 

As the Dempsey Writer in Residence, she spoke to two Upper School English classes, presented to Middle School, and held a meet and greet at the Henry Library. An active participant in literary communities, the librarian and author has mentored aspiring writers through programs such as Blue Stoop’s YA Novel Intensive and PitchWars.

Leveraging her experience as a librarian, the author meticulously weaves historical details into her novel. Set in 1920s Chestnut Hill, the story follows a protagonist who once attended Springside School. Perinovic's research shines through, from the descriptions of trolley rides from Center City to the precisely rendered atmosphere of Laurel Hill Cemetery at the time.

Chair of the English Department Rebecca McWilliams says writers like Perinovic provide an important real-world example of someone pursuing creative endeavors. 

“Meeting Jenny and hearing about her writing journey provided our students with a powerful message of how continued determination and following one's passion can lead to amazing results,” she says. “Some of the students that Jenny taught and advised here at SCH remembered when she was writing her book. It was a real thrill for them to see the published copy. What an amazing full circle story it was to have Jenny back on campus as our Dempsey speaker.”

The Dempsey Fund was established in 2000 in honor of Deborah Dempsey HA, an English teacher at Springside for 29 years. The fund supports the residency of a professional writer, journalist, filmmaker, or playwright and celebrates Mrs. Dempsey’s teaching legacy, ensuring that her passion for personal expression continues. 

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