Jennifer Brown author of Hate List
Today, I have Jennifer Brown, the talented writer of the inspiring novel Hate List! You can see my review of Hate List here. You can see my personal playlist for the book here. AND im giving away a signed copy of Hate List here! Enjoy the interview!
1. Was the Columbine High School tragedy somehow linked to your writing process?
No, not at all. Never in my mind's eye was I writing about Columbine or any other real-life school shooting. I would never presume to understand at all what it was like to be in the place of those people who lived through Columbine, or those people who lost a loved one in Columbine. And there are some very real differences between the shooting in Hate List and the one in Columbine (a single shooter versus two shooters, for instance, and also no use of explosives in Hate List, etc.).
2. Valerie's inner battle can be described as confused and hurt- what was it like entering her mind and writing her character?
No doubt about it, Valerie's mind was a very dark place to be. At first, she was very unpleasant to be around, but I knew she had the potential to reach out and to get better. I knew it would be tough for her, but absolutely possible. Because I could always see the good in Valerie, it wasn't too difficult to enter her mind -- I knew her sweet, vulnerable side.
3. Was there anything you wanted your readers to take away from reading Hate List?
Absolutely! I wanted readers to take away the notion that they can change hate by reaching out like Jessica (and eventually Valerie) did. I wanted them to look at something that seems so simple at first blush and see that there are so many fuzzy lines there, it's almost impossible to tell what's the truth. And I wanted readers to come away from the story hopeful, which sounds weird, given the subject matter, but I do think it's possible to come out of darkness... hopeful.
4. Death, divorce and friendship are all important topics in this book. What was the hardest/easiest thing to write about?
They're all difficult subjects to take on. It's never easy to describe carnage, even if it's made-up carnage, you know? Probably I had the "easiest" time writing about the divorce. Not "easy" like it wasn't emotionally heavy for me, but "easy" like I've lived through it and didn't really have to stretch myself to describe it from both the parents' and Valerie's points of view (and, no, Valerie's parents aren't my parents).
The friendship, on the other hand, was difficult for me to write, because I've always found female friendships to be difficult and confusing and ultimately very rewarding... but in a difficult and confusing sort of way. :-)
5. Reading Hate List was very emotional for me. What was it like writing Hate List?
Emotional as well, but probably not quite as emotional as the reading of it. I was very surprised the first time I learned that HATE LIST was a tear-jerker for some (most?) readers. I guess since I always knew how it would ultimately end up, I didn't find it quite as sad. Of course, any time you're writing about tragedy, though -- especially tragedy involving young people -- there's sadness involved. Or maybe more fear than sadness.
6. What are your favorite books and/or literary characters?
My favorite book of all time is The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck because it is about the perseverance of man in the face of really horrible odds. That's a theme that really resonates with me.
I read constantly, and I'll read anything. I don't have a "favorite genre" or a "favorite author" -- it just doesn't work that way for me. I have authors who really impress me -- Gail Giles, John Green, Jay Asher -- and books that really impress me, but I shy away from having favorites that could keep me from reaching out and finding new great stuff to read.
That said, I love to read debut novels (because I think that's when the author's voice is freshest and most vulnerable) and I love to read classics. The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway... changed my life.
7. Are you working on anything at the moment?
Yes, I'm almost finished writing my next YA book -- hoping to see it come out in Spring 2011.
8. Is there anything you'd like to add?
Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Christina! I love YA readers!!!