lunedì 8 gennaio 2018

Intervista a Jennifer Niven - Pordenonelegge 2017 [english version]

Good morning my dear readers! I think the title of this post has attracted the attention of many. This year, my dear friends, I had the GREAT opportunity to spend some time alone with Jennifer Niven to ask her all the questions I had in mind caused by the large emotions that made me try her novels.

This year, Pordenonelegge hosted several great authors, including our most beloved Jennifer, who met a large number of people under the same canvas, joined by one single thing: the love for her writtings.

Let's start!

1.Tell us about yourself: who is Jennifer Niven?

That is a very good question. I am a writer, I am a reader, I am the only child of two amazing people who unfortunately are no longer here. My mother was a writer as well and the thing she always (she taught me many things) but one of them was to spread love and joy and kindness. So I tried very hard to do that. 

2.What feeling did you feel when you finished writing your first story?

I thought (oh my goodness) relieved and overwhelm and excited and scared and just all these different emotions because it was such a big thing for me to do.

3. Why are people motivated to read your books?

Oh my gosh, I think they are motivated to read them because they deal with young adult honest issues. Teens can find themselves in the characters and the situations and they related to them. The books also remind them they are not alone which I think they much need to hear.

4. Talking about "All The Bright Places", why have you decided to conclude the book so drastically?

I knew a boy in real life who inspired Finch and I just wrote the ending that I knew.

5. Why, in "Holding Up The Universe", have you decided to write a happy conclusion?

Because “All The Bright Places” was so sad and because so many readers around the world said: “you made me cry”, “I’m sad, I’m glad that I read the book but I’m so sad”. Because of that, I thought they deserved a happy ending for the second book.

6. All of us have noticed the particular characters you have chosen for your two books. I believe these characters are a bit unusual. Despite the great risk with the first book, you decided to continue on the same path for the second. How did you come to these decision?

Because I think is important to write diverse characters, to write characters that allow different readers can identify with. I just felt it was really important to give voice to different types of people.

7. Do you think the great success is due to this courageous choice?

I think so and I think it has comes down to readers to be able to identify with not the normally characters but with the message that you are not alone, let me matter and that you have a voice that is very important and unique.

8. How does it make you feel to be an author who with your words has managed to change mine and many other worldview?

It feels incredible. I mean: there is no way to truly express how overwhelming it is and how emotional because I didn’t anticipate the reactions that I had when I was writing the books. I had a great fortune of meeting readers all around the world and hearing also from them daily and it is just really truly amazing. I feel really honoured.

9. Between Jack and Theodore, who do you prefer? Why?
In addition, between Libby and Violet? Who do you prefer? Why?

Oh my goodness, I have a crush on Jack but Finch is like my heart.
I am more like Violet so she is very closed to me but Libby is my hero.

10. Which of these two stories caused you to feel the most emotional while writing?

Definitely, “All The Bright Places” just because it was so directly personal and because there is so much sadness in it as well as hope and, you know, the happier parts of it as well. So definitely I cried a lot while I was writing it, which usually it makes readers feel better because they cried a lot while reading.

11. Being a great reader, I always hope there will be a sequel to the stories that I loved the most, will we see a violent follow-up?

I do not know. I thought about writing a sequel with Violet but I have not quite decided there is so many others stories I want to tell, but I never say never.

12. If you should set off for a journey and you can take with you only one book which one would be? Why? 

My goodness, I will probably take (that’s a very hard question by the way) a book that my mother wrote called “swimming lessons”. Because my mother is no longer here and because the book is about our family, it is about her, it is about me as a little girl and it is kind of sitting down and to talk with her.

13. How did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book "Holding Up The Universe"?

I have a cousin who has face blindness, which is what Jack has, and he was talking about the way he finds people in the world. It was so beautiful the way he said: "I remember them by the important things like how many freckles they have or how nice they are". I thought it is a really such a beautiful lessons and how I wish all to see each other. So I write a story about seen and been seen. 

14. What was the hardest part of writing "All The Bright Places"?

It was definitely going back to that place that I felt years before when I last the boy I left. It was really trying to be in that story again and making myself thinking about the things I had not though about for a long time. 

15. What is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
It is interesting because I actually prefer writing boys. The girls tend to be a little trickery for me ,maybe because I am a girl and they are a little closer to me. But, you know, I want to make sure that the boys voices are authentic, absolutely, but I kind of lose myself in them much easier than I do and I am more self-controlled with the girls again probably because they are more like what I am.

16. Do you do some research to write about male character?

Not really, beyond the research that means to go into something like, you know, we are talking about mental issues talking about the social prognoses that Jack has. I definitely do research for those but in terms of just writing male voice no. I think is just being empathetic and so you have empathy and you are able to relate to anyone no matter who it is, what sex and just having an ear for how they sound and how they talk and who they are.

17. What is the first book that made you cry?

Oh my gosh. Probably little women. Just thinking about it make me sad.  I think it is just when Beth dies in "little women" and there is a lot of sadness. You are just so sad and it is so last but it is also cathartic as many books are and you feel by the end of the book better and more restored.

18. What is your writing Kryptonite?

That is a great question. I think sometimes I have the writer’s block because I am tired or perhaps I am trying to send the characters in a direction they do not want to go. So I need to stop and I think about the plot and the character and what I’m trying to make them do because they are resisting me that usually means they have a better idea than me to be doing.

19. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

That is a great question. I do not think I have never been asked that. I’m good friends with David Leviathan and Jay Asher and oh my gosh I have so many wonderful writer friends and now I feel bad if I do not list them all. But David and Jay in particular from the beginning of my young adult career have been really great in giving advice. Jay because he wrote “Thirteen Reasons Why” which also deal with suicide and those issues so when I first started out and I said they want to respond to every single person who is writing to me or are messaging me. Jay and I had a great talk about how to balance that and how to be able to do as much as you can and David has been my dear friend from the first event I ever did for young adult. I did it with David and he was so gracious and so fun and kind. We have been good friends since then and he is kind of helping me throw the hardly parts of young adult career.

20. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

None. Except for the one that I am writing right now but I have just started.

21. Can you tell us something about it or not? 

I can not talk yet about the subject but I can tell you that it is the most personal book I’ve written since "All The Bright Places". It is also young adult and I am probably 75 pages into the writing now but I have already cried a lot so apologize in advance.

22. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

It depends on the book I am writing. I began my career in non-fiction and I had a lot of researches to do for those. With “All The Bright Places” and “Holding Up The Universe” I wanted to gain all the researches for mental issues, Libby’s issues and Jack issues and “Holding Up The Universe” and I can research for everything because I love researching but I had to make myself stop at some point and start writing. I can continue researching as I am doing it but I have tried to be as prepared as possible before I started writing and the researches always continue into it. And sometimes after.

23. How do you select the names of your characters?

Some of them just come to you and Jack, I knew I wanted to name him Jack. Theodore Finch just came out, probably influenced by “To Kill A Mockingbird” which I love. But other characters, Violet was difficult to name, if I am having troubles in naming them I look at baby name sites because they have a list of names and nicknames and I look for ideas. Sometimes I just look throw readers name because they are so beautiful and I look throw those or just look at friends names and trying to find one which seems to fit the character.

24. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

I do not read them. If someone write something they really want me to read, a review wheatear is from just a reader or a blogger, you know if my publicist says: “Oh these is a good review you need to read it”. I will read it but otherwise I do not read them because I have so many other friends who read the reviews and they get devastated and I just say, “Just do not”. Once you write the book and it is published, you have no control on what happens that once the reader then. You have done your work and it is the readers job and the wonderful thing about the books we all come to them with different experiences and different opinions and we entitle into those so that is for them and I just work on the next book.

25. If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?

Wow, that is a really good question. I think I would just write more. I mean I always wrote a lot, especially in high school. But I think I would write more and I would add an earlier age trying to be less self-contrest and just write with my full heart. I think I went throw a period of time when I was always worried about how it looked and how it seemed and I wanted to be in a certain way and I was writing with people over my shoulder even they were not literally over my shoulder. Just write.

26. Do you have an advice for teenagers like me?

I would just say: always just honour yourself and be truly yourself. Make it lovely as Finch would say and always remember that you are the only you there is in the entire world. That means you are unique and important and it matter.

27. What do you think about authors who say that they read not so much to avoid any kind of influence? 

I read all the time, but I definitely avoid reading in the genre I am writing in while I am writing in it so as to avoid unintentionally being influenced by another author hour's voice or story. When I am writing YA I try not to read YA. But this doesn't mean I stop reading. I just read adult novels or classics or nonfiction or graphic novels instead.

28. What kind of author do you feel to be? 

I think of myself as a writer of stories and of real, breathing people. I write about survival and loss and hope. 

Thanks for reading it,
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gennaio 08, 2018 / by / 0 Comments

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