Mar 2, 2010

Author Interview with Jandy Nelson

Today I am very excited to present an interview with Jandy Nelson, the amazing debut author of the incredible The Sky is Everywhere.

Quick background: She received a BA from Cornell, an MFA from Brown in poetry, and another MFA from Vermont College in writing for children and young adults. A literary agent for many years, she is also a published poet.


Now, without further ado, I give you the interview.

1. What made you choose Young Adults as your audience for your debut novel?

I started writing this novel when I was getting an MFA in writing for children and young adults (at VCFA), so in a way there never was a question in my mind who I wanted to write this novel to and for. I love young adult novels. I love the bold voices, the emotional landscapes, the romance. But I’m not sure you really choose your audience at all. I think an author chooses her characters and the story (or they choose her) and that determines the audience. I knew from the first few sentences out of Lennie’s mouth that she was telling her story to and for her peers.

2. In quick summation, what do you want your novel to say to its readers?

Super quick (and corny!) summation: Life is heartbreaking and breathtaking, both. Like Lennie says, “Grief and love are conjoined, you can’t have one without the other.” Follow your heart, your passions. Live and love in big and bold and full and real and messy and forgiving ways. Try to be yourself and live your dreams. (Argh—I sound like a hallmark card!)

3. Did your work as a literary agent change anything in the publishing process for you?

I don’t think it changed anything but it probably made the process a little different than it might be for other first time novelists because I knew what to expect and what not to expect. My favorite part about being an agent is making the call to a writer saying that I’m madly in love with his or her book and want to represent it—that’s such a joyful moment, as is making the call to an author that there is an offer or offers from publishing houses—it’s just crazy gleeful. But I have to say getting those calls is perhaps even more ecstatic than making them! My agent Emily Van Beek (at Pippin Properties) is a dream agent—she made the whole process such a joy. It’s funny, but sometimes it was hard for me to remember throughout it all that it was actually my book and not someone else’s that was being published! I pinched myself A LOT over the last year!

4. What is your writing personality? Do you prefer ordered calm with soothing music or do you just write whatever, whenever, wherever?

It varies. Sometimes I lock myself up for days and days in my (very un-orderly) office and other times I’m writing on napkins in restaurants and on the backs of parking tickets at red lights. (Yes, that’s me you’re honking at still parked at the green light—sorry!) The best is when the words are pouring out like that. I also love after the first several drafts are done and you can just kind of stare at your computer screen zombie-like and live inside a particular scene for days at a time, tweaking and tuning and trying to make it better. That’s really fun. I usually don’t listen to music because I constantly read pages aloud as I write and revise them.

5. Can we look forward to seeing you on tour anytime soon or is there anything you want to tell the readers?

I’ll be at different events and bookstores in the next few months that I’ll post on my website. I’d love to meet everyone! And I guess I just want to thank readers for reading my book. I really hope they enjoy it.


I want to send a big "Thank You" to her for agreeing to take time out of her extremely busy schedule in order to give you, the reader, a chance to know her a little better. Be sure to come back on Thursday to see my review of The Sky is Everywhere and to check out her book on it's release day of March 9, 2010!


Nicole Settle said...

Great interview! I really loved this book and I think she puts it wonderfully what she wants her novel to say to readers.

swiggett said...

Thanks! This is a wonderful interview, and it is great to get a peak at her thought process.

Windowpane Memoirs said...

Good interview! I pre=order Teh Sky is Eveywhere, I'm looking FW to read it.