The time I was given more foreign copies

Posted October 5, 2016 by Stacee in Signings / 15 Comments

Going to the launch party for Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven was a definite. Michelle and I had planned to go, but she went to Disneyland with family instead {totally valid reason}, so I got Hubs to drive.

We started the drive to Santa Monica around 2:15. Traffic is always a hot mess and we’d rather have time to kill than be late. Apparently there was a shooting earlier in the day at the exit we needed. Even with having to reroute around and getting Starbucks, I was hovering around the new shelves filled with funkos just after 5.

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I did go wandering around a bit and overheard some customers talking to an employee about the event. The employee said the event area would open around 6, so I went back to the event doors and settled in on the floor. I also may or may not have had a small photo shoot out of boredom.

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Around 6:45 Jennifer came up to the event room with the employees. She saw me in line and hugged me and then handed me a bag…with 3 foreign editions of All the Bright Places. She’s the best and worst enabler. They let us in right at 7 and Jennifer was already sitting at the table with all sorts of swag and pretties. As people starting coming in, Jennifer made the rounds, hugging friends and being adorable.

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Jennifer was introduced just after 7. She told us that she felt like a rockstar with a microphone. She said that when she was little, she had a canopy bed and the tops came off and she would sing into them. Badly. And that’s why she’s not really a rockstar.

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HUTU is a personal story. When I was studying in film school, I always got the critique that I couldn’t pour my heart out on the page. I don’t think I know how not to do that. ATBP was inspired by a boy I loved. This book was inspired by a lot of people I loved. It started with a conversation with my cousin who was 15 at the time. He has face blindness {she said the clinical word for it} and I asked him how he finds the people he loves. He said “I find them by the important things. Like how many freckles they have. Or how nice they are.” I thought wouldn’t be it nice if we really saw people that way?

I’ve been touring for ATBP for about a year and a half. The message I’ve gotten from readers is “thank you for writing something that shows us we are wanted and loved.”

Jennifer then talked about the synopsis of HUTU, Jack, and Libby. And how she was especially grieving for her mom while writing HUTU, so she gave Libby her mom. Jennifer struggled with her weight when she was 13-14. Her grandmother used to tell her “Jennifer, you’re too pretty to be fat” and she never forgot it.

She wanted to do a reading, but decided to do an unconventional one and asked for volunteers to read the scripts she had prepared.

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It was then opened up to questions from the audience.

How are you so good? {the question came from another YA author}

I could ask you the same thing. This is my ninth book. This is the first book that my mom won’t read and that’s been really emotional. But knowing that you guys are going to read it means a lot.

You used to write adult books. What made you change?

I loved writing adult books. I wrote two non-fiction arctic books and I was labeled “Arctic girl”. It wasn’t bad, but I didn’t want to only do that. I love YA and shows that are probably too young for me. Anyone who knows me knows I’m really 15.

When my agent of 15 years died unexpectedly, it made me reevaluate everything. Before it happened, he told me that I needed to do something I was burning to do. I had always wanted to write YA and write about a boy I loved.

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What’s so great about YA?

The community. Everyone is so supportive. The librarians and booksellers are so enthusiastic. There’s so much energy. Most of all, I love the readers. They’re so passionate and lovely.

Both of your books are in dual POV and they’re so distinct. Can you talk about how it works for you?

Finch’s voice came right out. Violet was a struggle. I had to work for her. For Libby and Jack, it was hard to have Violet and Finch in my head. It was like Finch was jealous and wouldn’t let me write another guy. He got in the way a lot.

One thing that helped me is that I started a playlist for each character. I’ve never written to music with words, this was the first. It really helped me tune out Violet and Finch.

How did you write the screenplay and the new book?

Asked by the producer. Writing a script is an entirely different animal. I’ve been touring for ATBP and talking about them and it helped. I was already in that world. It’s hard to balance so many projects, but if I’m in the rhythm with them, each gives energy to the others. It helps me to hone what needs to be said. It makes me keep the extra words off.

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I’m currently finishing my 6th book and I’m having trouble saying goodbye to my characters. How do you let them go?

It’s so hard. When I wrote my first book, I didn’t make up those characters, but I loved them. One of the characters died in the middle of the book and I had to skip the scene until the end. I had to force myself to go back and write that scene.

Know that you have to edit, then when you sell the book, you’ll have to work with them. Then you’ll be so sick of them you hope someone will ask you about the plane ride. My characters are always with me, they’re like my family.

How long did it take you to write?

About 2 months? I was very off and on. I would get a few days of writing and then I would tour. I wrote ATBP in about 6 weeks. The good version. I wrote a version in a weekend because an agent said she wanted the whole thing. I told her it wasn’t going to be good and it wasn’t. When she got it she was like “meh.”

Do you sleep?

No. I don’t sleep well or enough.

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Has writing interfered with relationships?

Yes. My mom told me to never make myself smaller. The person who loves you should accept what you do. I grew up seeing my father struggle when my mom would become Penelope Niven instead of Mrs. {insert her real last name}. I was aware of how it could be.

Do you always know the ending?

Endings are my favorite. I hate the middle. I almost always know how it will end. The book I’m working on now is the first book that I don’t know. It’s sort of unsettling, but I like it at the same time. It’s like a road trip. I know where I’m starting and I know where I’m ending up. I just have to be open to all of the things that happen in the middle.

What do the dots on the cover mean?

This is the fourth cover and I love it. I told the people at Random House to look at bookstagram to see what covers were being photographed and they came back with this one. You can see that one is very clear and the rest are smudges. I think it’s just being able to see the one person who can really see you. And it’s seeing who they want to be also. Or at least that’s my interpretation.

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I recently watched a video of you taking a trip to the Philippines: how does that sort of reception make you feel?

I think there was about 1000 people and I signed 800 books. By the second hour, I thought I was going to die because it was so hot. I was just in Brazil and I don’t think I was cried on so much before. It’s just so amazing. I love meeting readers. They’re everything to me.

What was the biggest surprise you discovered when writing Jack and Libby?

I realized that Libby is my most personal character. She’s me. As I was writing, I would try to surprise myself. If I thought it could go in one direction, I would make it go somewhere else.

She then pointed out the GERM magazine staffers who were in the audience.

From there, we were told the signing was going to go by row. While waiting, I chatted with some of the employees. Then I got up to Jennifer and thanked her for everything and the foreign copies. We chatted about the covers and how I need them to start being ugly so I don’t need to have every single one of them.

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While she was signing, she pointed to her copy of HUTU and asked me to sign it. I started laughing and said that I would only claim Jack on one page for now. She said that she would be sure to point that out to people. And then she made sure that I actually signed it properly. I was just about to leave when she called me back so we could take a selfie. Which of course we did.

Jennifer Niven is easily one of my favorite authors to see in person. She’s so lovely and so genuinely nice. And she spoils me rotten. If you haven’t read All the Bright Places or Holding Up the Universe, I suggest you get on that. Just know that Finch and Jack are both mine, I have proof.

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15 Responses to “The time I was given more foreign copies”

    • Stacee

      I still hoping that she’ll come to San Diego. All of the times I’ve seen her, she’s been in LA.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!!

  1. This was absolutely THE BEST POST. I loved reading the Q&A and I juuuust finished reading Holding Up the Universe and I’m so in love with it ajfdksalda it was beautiful and incredibly written. And Jennifer seems SO SO LOVELY. I’d love to meet her someday!! <3

    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!

    • Stacee

      Jennifer is one of the loveliest authors I’ve ever met. She’s so down to earth and accessible. I’m happy to hear you loved HUTU!

      Thanks for reading and commenting!!

    • Stacee

      Thank you!! She is quite soft spoken and so lovely to watch with her fans.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!!

    • Stacee

      That is the best compliment you could give the blog!! Thank you so much!!

      I hope you love both of her books, they’re some of my favorites.

      Thanks for always reading and commenting!!

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