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Chatting With Jay Asher + Win Jay's Books

Jay recently made the trip north to Seattle to visit with Amazon and do some signings at a library in my neighborhood. When I heard he'd be in town, I asked if we could meet for lunch. The last time I'd seen him in person, after all, he was dressed as cupid, complete with curly blond wig, pink dress and bow with heart-tipped arrow.

This time, he showed up in jeans. But it was still great to chat about a variety of book and film related topics as we ate sandwiches downtown, and then to listen to him tell his (funny!) stories later, at his signing. He really is one of the friendliest guys you'll ever meet. Here's a bit of what he had to say:

On the movie and Selena: When the THIRTEEN REASONS WHY movie news broke, some people assumed it was being turned into a Disney movie because, at the time, Selena Gomez starred in a Disney Channel TV show. No, this is a Universal film. It’s going to deal with the same emotions and issues as the book. The thing that makes me the most confident is that everyone involved in the process so far (Selena, the screenwriter, the producers) all share the same vision. When I listen to them talk about Hannah’s character, or certain scenes, they absolutely get what I was trying to say with the book. In fact, with some of the ways they’ve described the characters and situations, it can feel like they understand it on a deeper level than me…which is very weird. And it’s been great that I’ve been able to offer feedback to the writer and producers working on this. Many times, authors don’t get much – if any – room to have their opinions heard. And while they do seek my opinion, I’m usually just amazed at what they come up with.

On promotion: I really like this aspect of the business. I especially love speaking at schools and libraries, talking about writing, and meeting readers wherever I go. But when I do speak, and even though I’ve spoken a lot, I can never eat much the day before because I still get so nervous. Getting to see so many parts of the country is a wonderful bonus to being an author. It’s very energizing. With my son at home now, though, I don’t like being away for long, so I try to space out my schedule a little more.

On reviews: There are so many ways a reader can approach THIRTEEN REASONS WHY, based on their own experiences. A lot of people already have very strong opinions on suicide, bullying, and the other issues in the book, so I always appreciate when a review says it made them look at these things in a different way. That says a lot about the reviewer, because you have to be willing to check out different perspectives. When a reviewer simply doesn’t like my writing or storytelling, that’s never bothered me. It’s when they don’t like the book because they don’t agree with suicide (which, by the way, I don’t either!) that I bang my head against the desk out of frustration.

On collaborating: Carolyn Mackler and I barely knew each other when we started working on THE FUTURE OF US. I blurbed her last book, but we probably hadn’t exchanged more than a handful of emails over that. Because of a question asked at an author’s panel, she mentioned that one thing she always wanted to do was write a book with someone, and that question prompted her to reach out to me. We each respected the other as writers – she was one of my top two or three favorites – and the project just started falling into place immediately. We brainstormed ideas over the phone a few times, then launched into the project secretly. We weren’t sure if it was going to work, because neither of us had tried writing with someone, so didn’t want to make a big announcement only to have everything fall through. While some collaborators work with a more a free-flowing style, Carolyn and I both wanted equal control over the entire plot, so we mapped out each chapter before we started writing it. We would take turns writing alternate chapters in the book, and then send it to the other person, who would make as many changes as s/he wanted. Sometimes this meant deleting a paragraph or two, sometimes adding pages. We never asked permission to change things, we just did it. For two people who barely knew each other, the collaboration was remarkably smooth. I don’t know if I would want to collaborate with someone else, just because I can’t imagine it would be as easy and fluid as this project.

On other projects: I’ve dabbled in screenplays for years, and would love to get more into that. Some of my favorite writing how-to books have been screenwriting books. When I think about beginning and ending scenes in a novel, and how to pace them, I tend to approach them with a cinematic eye. So while I am working on some novels, I’m also pushing forward on a couple of screenplays.

Want a signed copy of 13 Reasons Why AND The Future of Us (arc)? We're giving one lucky winner BOTH. We want to know: What would the YOU of 20 years in the future put as a status update on Facebook? Comment with your answer to enter to win. We'll choose one random winner on Saturday, December 10th. Good luck!
Kristin Halbrook

Kristin Halbrook is the author of the critically-acclaimed young adult novels Nobody But Us (HarperTeen, 2013) and Every Last Promise (HarperTeen, 2015). She likes many things.

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37 comments:

  1. Chihuahua is: flying to Japan for a "vacation". ;)

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  2. Ooooh I want this so badly - they sold out of Jay's books at SCBWI this summer so I couldn't get him to sign a copy.

    Status:

    I still remember when Facebook was an actual facebook.

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  3. My status update:

    Good god I'm old!

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  4. I remember all those (20) years ago when I swore to god I'd never join Facebook. Who'd've thunk that it'd soon be a neccestiy of life?

    Yay! Both of jay's books sound amazing!

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  5. status update: I remember the good ol' days...

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  6. Oh - and here is my email (if i win hee hee) nicnac63 AT hotmail DOT com

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  7. Status update: Just won 'Best Bookshop of the Year' award!

    (Hey, a girl can dream!)

    georgiasummers@me.com

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  8. My Status Update: When do I retired???? (I'll be 61!)

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  9. Ideally?

    "On my way to Europe! Will see you all in a few months. Pictures to follow."

    smcdanielc [at] gmail [dot] com

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  10. Great interview! And I agree...Jay is one of the friendliest people around. When he was speaking near me, the two of us went out for dinner together. He's a great guy and a great writer!

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  11. This has been on my TBR list for a while. Glad you interviewed him -- wonderful, thoughtful responses!

    Since I'm about to give birth in a few weeks, I bet twenty years from now my status update will be something along lines of: Can't believe kid is grown, gone, and starting his/her own life!

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  12. I would post a link to how Facebook has changed the site's (privacy) policies again (yes, even 20 years in the future) and your options for what you want to do about the changes. (extemter at hotmail dot com)

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  13. Hopefully mine will say something like
    "Just got back from Italy!"

    Vivien
    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

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  14. "And my collaboration with J.K.Rowling will be out next fall. More details to be revealed soon."

    Wait..we are allowed wishful thinking, right?

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  15. Just sent Jeeves to the store for more YA fiction and bonbons.

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  16. (ha, I'm with Dani, but since she got to it first, I'll say:)

    When are the flying cars coming out, anyway??
    ericao75(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  17. My status update:
    "My fourth book will be out in a couple days, can't wait!"

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  18. Status: Another lovely day in my life, enjoying the almost empty nest and new book coming out in a week.

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  19. "Jillian is...trying to keep up with the kids during another epic family bicycle trip abroad."

    (That was fun/bizarre/terrifying to think about since I don't have kids yet but in 20 years I could be sending them off to college!)

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  20. Probably nothing. I haven't actually updated my facebook status in over a year.

    BUT if I DO have one, it will probably be something about how much I still hate stupid people...

    basicallyamazingbooks at gmail dot com

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  21. Finally won the lottery!

    thegirlonfire27 at gmail dot com

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  22. Status: For my 68th birthday I wanted to make sure I could still do 100 burpees, 100 push-ups, 100 jumping lunges, 100 jump squats, 100 mountain climbers, 100 toe touches, 100 dips, 100 tuck jumps, 100 plank jumps, and 100 squat thrusts. 1000 reps in all. Yay! I did it and I beat my personal best of 20 years ago which was 49:25. Today it was 36:18.

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  23. Hopefully it will be something like:

    "I love my robot maid because it is so good at scouring the tubs AND I don't have to make awkward small talk with it!"

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  24. I doubt I'll ever have a Facebook, but I'll try to make a realistic fake update ;)

    "I've always wanted a virtual pet elephant! Thank ya'll! Best. Belated half-birthday present. Ever."

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  25. "Just got back from another book tour at the Moon Colonies!"

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  26. Um, maybe World Conquerer?

    lesly7ch(at)yahoo(Dot)com

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  27. The interview was awesome (:!

    In 20 years I would Unpload:

    "Woow this page are still exist?! Hello from LA :D"

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  28. Won't Facebook be replaced by the next big thing by then? I'm not much of a trend follower. I started blogging before most people knew what a blog was, and I'm not on Facebook. No updates for me, but I'd love to read Asher's books in the near future so please put me in your drawing. Interesting interview.

    my contact page: http://sarahlaurence.com/contact.html

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  29. I really want to read BOTH of these books!

    Wow...let's see.

    In twenty years from my now my facebook status would probably be:

    "LIKE this post if you want me to Poke you!" or something weird like that. Hehe.

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  30. Hopefully, my status would go something like this:

    "Remember that best selling book I always claimed I was going to write? It's happening!"


    I really want these!!!
    gabbicalabrese AT hotmail DOT com

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  31. 20 years? We're going to hope for something along the lines of... "Heading out for the grand opening of the theme park based on [my book]! Hope to see you all there" ;-)

    sarah.nicolas.ya at gmail dot com

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  32. Status Update: Whose bright idea was it to have a 48 year class reunion? It is not creative to have them at weird intervals. It's just weird. You people are all weird. I never liked any of you anyway. Get off my wall!

    *I plan to be a very cranky old lady by then.

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  33. I would hope it would say something along the lines of, "Traveling to another new country!"

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  34. Status update: going to try out my new flying car.

    Though honestly I'd probably have an update saying I'm going out to the bookstore.

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  35. Assuming Facebook is still around, which would be an amazing achievement, I'd probably be posting another picture of my Christmas tree at this time of year--and it'll say something like, "It smells like Christmas! Hope the husband heard all my hints and gets me that hoverboard I've been eyeing."

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  36. I'm with Amity - I just had a baby this year so my status update in 20 years would probably be something like:

    "My baby is all grown up and now she's a Yellow Jacket just like mom and dad!"

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  37. Me in 20 years (by then I've been a mom for at least 10 years, hopefully):

    Found some glowing green slime on the wall; no idea which kid it came from. Must interrogate all 14 of them.

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Item Reviewed: Chatting With Jay Asher + Win Jay's Books Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kristin Halbrook