The time it was a light universe

Posted December 16, 2016 by Stacee in Signings | 6 Comments

So any time I see that Jennifer Niven is going to be within a driving distance away from me, I always try to go. And when I saw that she was going to be doing an event with Jay Asher, it was a sure sure thing.

The day of was a hot mess. Hubs was not able to leave work as early as he expected, it started raining, and traffic was a mess. I was sort of freaking out because getting to the event an hour before is normal for some people, but to me it’s being late.

We got to Vroman’s right after 6pm. I had called the store to have a book held for me, so after grabbing seats, I headed to the will call area. Annnnnd Jennifer and Jay were there getting some things. As they were leaving, Jennifer came over and gave me a pretty bag filled with stuff.


But most importantly: the Finch UK arc of ATBP she got for me. We chatted for a few minutes. She told me how she talked to her UK publicist about finding one. I told her how my head almost exploded over her getting it for me.

After a few more minutes of losing my mind and making a damn fool of myself {like always}, I went back to my seat and settled in to wait. One of the Vroman’s employees was setting out some things and asked if we were at the store for the event. When we said yes, she gave us adorable goodie bags.

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Jennifer and Jay came out right after 7pm. After the proper introduction, Jay and Jennifer read each other’s quotes off of the books. Jay said they were both huge fans of each other, so the the event could be gross.


Jay went on to say that they were going to have a raffle for four books. Jennifer picked two of her favorites and Jay picked two of his favorites.  Every time they picked a ticket, the winner would unwrap the book and Jennifer or Jay would explain why they loved it.

JN: Jay told me that he was going to sneak in Fifty Shades of Grey and make me explain that. Speak is one of my favorite YA books. I love it’s simplicity and power. Who can’t relate to finding your voice and using it?

JA: Speak was the second YA book I read. It was a great introduction to how great YA books can be. We’re now going to give a lesson on writing. You’re going to help us fill out a Christmas Mad Lib. {They asked the audience for various words and then read it}


JA: Now we’ll have a reading, but we’re not going to read.

JN: Do you like how we’re putting everything on you?

JA: We need 4 volunteers. We’re going to call out a number and you turn to that page and read the first sentence.

JN: We’ll go left to right.

Then Jennifer started calling out numbers.


Each of the authors then talked about their books.

JA: This is my first book since TRW and it was an idea that came before TRW. It came from a newspaper article that I read about the family who had a tree farm in Oregon and came to California for a few weeks a year. The thing that stood out to me was that the family had two sons and the kids would go to school for the few weeks they were down in California. They friends in both places. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to tell, but eventually it became a love story. My first book dealt with some serious issues and it’s so nice to have an uplifting book too.

JN: There are some similar themes between HUTU and WL. It’s about forgiveness. Jack does something horrible to Libby and it was important to make the reader be able to forgive him. And I had to forgive him too. I wanted to put a little more light into the universe. Hashtag Light Universe. Do you see what I did there?


Will you talk about your process?

JN: ATBP was my first YA, but my 8th book. I started out with heavy outlining. When I wrote my first novel, I had a 50 page outline. Fiction for me is different. I always want to do my research, but I also pants it. I have to know my characters and subject matter really well. It’s like a road trip. I know where I’m starting and where it’s ending, but I want to be open to the detours. I’ve found that every book wants to be written differently.

JA: Same. For TRW, I took tons of notes. I just needed to get it out of my head. It started to feel so real, so I just let the characters do whatever they wanted. I sort of knew how I wanted it to end, but I didn’t open the notebook until I was done. For WL, I did take a lot of notes, but also compiled a 6 page summery. When I was writing it, it veered and it felt natural.  Co-writing was different. Carolyn is an outliner. She would be taking notes and I would just be pacing. When she would get my chapters, about half of it was what we talked about.

JN: I have a secret collaborator and we have been writing without taking about the book to each other. Just writing off what the chapter we get. It’s been fun.

Do you have a certain routine?

JA: I don’t. I’ll listen to music before I start a scene. With WL, it was country Christmas. For TFOU, it was Green Day. For TRW, it was the soundtrack for My So Called Life.

JN: It’s sort of whatever it takes to keep you in the mindset. For HUTU, it was fun. I created a playlist and it was the first one I wrote to music. It wanted to be written that way. For rituals, my mom always had things to say. She said that to write, you have to have the soul of an angel and the hide of an armadillo. I bought us matching armadillo statues and I now have them together on my desk, just as a reminder. I also have a 4 cat beds because they all want to be on the desk at the same time. It’s amazing I get anything done.

JA: OOH. I will make fake book covers. I wonder how big I want my name to be. I used to send them to my publisher and they would wonder why I wasn’t writing.


What inspired you to write characters who are underrepresented?

JN: I’ve always felt like an outcast. It’s important to read and write. ATBP came about because I loved a boy who was like Finch. HUTU came from something personal as well. I don’t think I could write if it wasn’t personal. It has a combination of people. My cousin is face blind and he said he had never read a book with a person like him. The more we travel and meet readers, the more we realize that we’re not alone. I think it’s important.

Is there something out there you wish you had written?

JA: Harry Potter

JN: Fifty Shades of Grey. {laughs} No really, Harry Potter.

JA: I would say Stargirl. I don’t know why it works for me. I don’t know how he did it. I guess I would love to be able to say I wrote something like that.

JN: I just read Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane and I’m in a huge book hangover. So maybe that. Or I’ll Give You the Sun.


Will you ever write a book together?

JA: We’ve talked about it. I never thought I would be able to write with someone else. I was too possessive of the words. When I wrote with Carolyn, we wrote 100 pages before we told anyone because we didn’t know if it would work. I would totally love to read a book we wrote together.

JN: Would you guys read that?

Audience says yes.

JA: Can you tell us what it would be about?

JN: And what are the characters like?

From there, the signing was over. I got up to Jay first and as he was signing I started talking to Jennifer about something.

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Jay chimed in and we all chatted for a second…and the conversation hinted at something that she asked me not to post.

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When I got to Jennifer, I gave her my books and she gave me her copy of HUTU that she has readers sign. She asked if I wanted to claim more Jacks. I didn’t realize that I had done it before, so I got a couple of chapters labeled before I hugged her, thanked her, and left.

These two were so much fun together.  They’re silly and banter-y and absolutely lovely.  I hope I get to see them together again.  And I can’t recommend their books enough.

And if  you’re reading this post before 12/30, click here for a twitter giveaway for a signed arc of What Light + a swag bag.

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6 responses to “The time it was a light universe

    • Stacee

      Yay!! I love recapping them, so I’m happy to hear there’s an audience for it.
      Thanks for reading and commenting!!

  1. Eee, I love that you are such a huge fan of this author :D You are the best Stacee. <3 Love reading your event recap posts. You always get to go to so many and always have such a good time :) Yay. <3 So happy for you. And eee, yaay for so many gorgeous and signed books :D Thank you for sharing. <3 I still haven't read any books by her.. but ONE DAY :D

    Carina Olsen recently posted: In My Mailbox #273

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