Jennifer A. Nielsen, author of the Ascendance trilogy (and the very charming Underworld Chronicles trilogy, as well as an installment in the Infinity Ring series) made a stop at my middle school while on a visit to Boise in April. Nielsen was funny, down-to-earth, quite well-spoken, and really just terrific to hang out with for the short time we spent together during her appearance. I felt very fortunate to be hosting her at our school!
She gave an inspiring and eye-opening talk about an author's life and work, and while signing books took the time to speak individually and personally to each of a long line of starstruck students. She was also gracious enough to visit our library and have her picture taken by our giant READ sign, and agreed to an interview about her past and future work, her audience, and the possibility of a False Prince movie.
JAN: I did love those books, but also loved A Wrinkle in Time and The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, which are female heroines. I grew up as quite a tomboy, preferring climbing trees to playing dolls, and my childhood friends tended to be boys, so that probably influences me now. I do think males seem to work well for my stories, perhaps because I’m so tough on them physically, but despite my published books, I don’t consider myself an exclusive writer of boy characters (see below). I just write the voice that’s in my head. I will say though that I had quite a laugh soon after The False Prince was released when a blogger accused me of actually being a boy using a pen name, because he insisted there was no way a female could accurately get the male voice otherwise. Ha!
JAN: There is something coming, yes… (Hopefully by the time this posts on your blog, it will be announced!) [GLW note: Not yet. Waiting with bated breath!]
GLW: My son is still in the "chewing on board books" stage, but I often think about what kinds of stories inhabited my imagination as a child, and which will end up influencing him. Do your children read your books? If so, what kind of conversations do you have with them as a parent-author?
GLW: I loved the line in your website bio where you mentioned setting -- and missing -- a goal to be published at a younger age than S.E. Hinton. In seventh grade, I made the same vow, and here I am at nearly twice Hinton's age with a couple of unfinished manuscripts on my computer and a bunch of frustrated characters locked up in my head. Any advice on making the leap from "I plan to be published one day" to "hey, I actually have a completed manuscript"? :)
JAN: I definitely believe in finishing what you start, and for me, that included the goal I set as a 6th grader. Despite the ups and downs of becoming a published writer, I always kept my eye on my goals and so everything I did had to keep me moving forward, even if only by inches at a time. That helped me finish my manuscripts, submit them, and then to persevere until I finally sold a book.
JAN: Just a plug for the importance of reading for all ages, and for both genders. But boys are a particular concern to me because they tend to fall behind as readers and that impacts them later in life. Keep reading!
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