Pint-sized interviews that leave you smiling.
JAY ASHER is the author of the New York Times Bestseller's list young adult novel, THIRTEEN REASONS WHY. He got the idea for THIRTEEN REASONS WHY at a museum. While taking an audio tour, he was struck by the eeriness of the voice in his ear—a woman who described exactly what he was looking at, but wasn’t there.
Jay lives on the central coast of California. THIRTEEN REASONS WHY is his first book. Find out more about him at http://www.discomermaids.blogspot.com/.
Thirteen Reasons Why has had huge success in its young life. Did you ever foresee the kind of attention it has received and how do you keep grounded with all of the attention it (and you) have gotten since its release? And possibly related to that, what project are you currently working on?
If the book found its audience (which required the help of booksellers and librarians), I thought it could be a real word-of-mouth success because of its mix of suspense, a unique structure, and the issues it discussed. I just didn't think the initial audience would be so big. From there, the teens took over and began recommending it to their friends. I definitely didn't expect to see it on the New York Times Bestseller list, though. When it first appeared on that list, it was such a shock that I actually started crying.
As far as staying grounded, a full-time job definitely helps. But, more than that, the letters I receive from teens are so heartwarming and inspiring. Many of them open up about their own lives and tell me the ways in which the book positively affected them. I can't feel anything but honored by that.
I'm working on my next novel for teens right now. There will definitely be more humorous elements in this book than Thirteen Reasons Why...but hopefully just as engaging.
Do you have a favorite novel-writing exercise, tip or piece of advice that you find most useful, and are willing to share with other writers?
Thirteen Reasons Why was the first manuscript I wrote without anyone looking at it (other than the first 12 pages) before it was finished. Since I was writing such a personal story, I didn't want anyone swaying the emotional aspects of my words yet. But I did hold several brainstorming sessions with my wife and two writing friends (and co-bloggers) Robin and Eve. After it was finished and polished to the best of my abilities, then I let other people read it...one at a time. After each person critiqued it, I made alterations and then passed the manuscript on to the next person. That way, the story was seen through fresh eyes each time as opposed to the same people critiquing every stage of the revision process.
What's your favorite children's joke? (I know as a frequent winner of the SCBWI summer conference joke contests, you've got to have a few jokes on hand ;-).