If you know me, you know that Jandy Nelson is one of my favorite authors (she wrote The Sky Is Everywhere and the recently released I’ll Give You The Sun). I’m pretty sure that you should know that. Her books are just something out of this world and I damn near lost my shit meeting her at BEA this year. I might have scared her but I’m hoping my heart eyes and ecstatic praise translated more HUGE FAN than creeper. But seriously these words, people:
So when I was approached to possibly do an interview with Jandy Nelson I was like OH MY GOD YES OF COURSE ALWAYS. But then I realized I actually had to form coherent questions and that interviewing didn’t mean exclaiming my love (though TOTALLY did….disguised as Super Smart Interview Questions).
BUT I DID IT. I PREVAILED. And her interview answers are even freaking works of art. NOT HUMAN I TELL YOU. So for your pleasure, here are 3 of my most burning questions I asked Jandy Nelson. Just as an FYI for you — there are NO spoilers so you are safe to read my questions and her answers!
1. In both The Sky Is Everywhere & I’ll Give You the Sun you feature really layered relationships between siblings (which I love because my relationship with my sister has been a HUGE part of my life). What is it that draws you to this relationship? Do you have any personal inspiration that you draw from when it comes to writing those relationships?
Thank you! And it’s funny. I didn’t even realize I was writing predominately about sibling relationships in my two novels until people started reading I’ll Give You the Sun and noting it! And my next one The Fall Boys & Dizzy in Paradise is also about three siblings. Writers are so oblivious! But I do find the sibling connection endlessly fascinating as I do all family dynamics. I grew up with older brothers, and like you, they’ve played a huge role in my life. Luckily, unlike Jude and Noah in Sun, we’ve had way more harmony than rivalry over the years. I just adore my brothers, can’t imagine going through life without them, and I definitely think I draw on that love when I’m writing siblings—it’s a powerful one, a jump-in-front-of-a-train-to-protect-them kind of love. But more generally, I like how siblings seem to create their own parentless mini-civilization within a family, one that has its own language and humor, its own laws and myths and loyalties and treacheries. Families are such rich fodder for stories—they’re so inherently dramatic and comedic both, like pressure cookers and with the right (or wrong) ingredients, the lid always blows.
2. I LOVED the way I’ll Give You the Sun was told and found it very effective to alternate chapters between young Noah and then Jude years later. Did you know from the beginning that you weren’t going to follow a linear path to tell this story? Were there any difficulties in alternating in this manner?
That makes me so happy you enjoyed the structure. Honestly, it was a bear to figure out and really challenged me. I knew from the beginning I wanted the novel to be told from both twins’ perspectives and in different timeframes but it took longer for me to figure out what those timeframes would be and how I’d manage the alternating. But early on, I realized that the best way for me to write the book would be to write Noah’s story start to finish, then Jude’s start to finish, always keeping in mind the other’s trajectory. Also, I’d lock the file on one twin during the periods I was writing the other’s story and vice versa to help insure each twin’s voice and world would be distinct. Then once drafts of both twins’ stories were written, I began to braid them together, which was really like writing a whole new novel. At that point, I was about two and a half years into the writing process of the book so that last step involved A LOT of praying that it actually would work!
3. Both The Sky Is Everywhere & I’ll Give You the Sun have made me feel very INTENSE emotions. Do you ever have to step back when you are writing because it is just too intense with what the characters are dealing with?
I’m glad about the INTENSE! And sorry! But more glad. Ironically, usually when my heart starts racing or breaking with what’s going on with the characters I do the opposite of stepping back. That’s actually when I know I have to go for it, go deeper, go full-throttle, because I might be getting at something real and alive and true. As a writer, I think that’s one of the greatest pleasures, no matter how painful it can be. It’s much harder for me to write when I’m not feeling much at all. That said, there have definitely been days when I stagger out of my office, feeling like I’ve been run over by a freight train of emotion!
About Jandy Nelson:
Jandy Nelson, like her characters in I’ll Give you the Sun, comes from a superstitious lot. She was tutored from a young age in the art of the four-leaf clover hunt; she knocks wood, throws salt, and carries charms in her pockets. Her debut novel, The Sky Is Everywhere, was on multiple Best Books of the Year lists, was a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults pick, earned numerous starred reviews, has been translated widely, and continues to enjoy great international success. Currently a full-time writer, Jandy lives and writes in San Francisco, California—not far from the settings of The Sky Is Everywhere and I’ll Give You the Sun. Visit her online at www.jandynelson.com or find her on twitter at @jandynelson.
Got burning questions of your own?
Penguin Teen is hosting a Twitter chat with Jandy Nelson, Stephanie Perkins, and Gayle Forman on September 5th at 7:00 PM EST. IT IS LIKE THE TRIFECTA OF MY FAVORITE AUTHORS NIGHT!! Follow along using #PenguinTeenChat!
Pre-order your copy of I’ll Give You the Sun today! Want a signed / personalized copy? They’re available for pre-order from Books Inc. in San Francisco!
Be sure to check out the rest of the blog tour for additional interviews, guest posts from the author, giveaways, and more!
Sept. 1 – Cuddlebuggery
Sept. 2 – Novel Sounds
Sept. 3 – Perpetual Page Turner
Sept. 4 – Forever Young Adult
Sept. 8 – The Young Folks
Sept. 9 – The Book Hookup
Sept. 10 – Grown Up Fangirl
Sept. 11 – Bewitched Bookworms
Sept. 15 – Candace’s Book Blog
Sept. 16 – Novel Novice
Sept. 17 – Alice Marvels
Sept. 18 – Icey Books
Sept. 22 – The Midnight Garden
Sept. 23 – The Starry-Eyed Revue
Sept. 24 – Tales of a Ravenous Reader
Sept. 25 – Katie’s Book Blog
Sept. 29 –GReads!
Sept. 30 –Anna Reads
And now for the giveaway!
A paperback copy of The Sky Is Everywhere…which is GORGEOUS and this book is one of my favorite contemporaries!
-Open to US residents only. Please read terms & conditions on the widget. Shipping will be fulfilled by Penguin!