Sunday, January 4, 2015

[Year-Round YA and NA Guide: A List of My Most Anticipated 2015 Releases] Q & A with JENNIFER NIVEN, Author of All the Bright Places

ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES. When I came up with this event, the first book that came to my mind was this one. I knew that I have to feature it and try to interview Ms. Jennifer Niven. Luckily, I was able to. THANK YOU SO MUCH, Ms. Jennifer for everything that you've done for me! I'm sure you know what I mean! I tell you, guys, she's a very awesome author who really takes time to email back bloggers and her readers.

If you're a friend of mine on Facebook or you're following me on Twitter/Blog, I'm quite sure you've read my posts (even heard me wailing) about this book! It was late November 2014 or early December 2014 when I came across ATBP. I saw some bloggers tweeting about it and I was like, "What's this book about? Is it already released? Blah blah blah". Instead of asking them, I consulted Goodreads. I read its synopsis and scrolled down to check some reviews. I ended up being stunned. Wait. Hold up. Wow. This is a YA debut novel of Jennifer Niven and almost all of the ratings from the first page is alternating between a 4 and 5 stars. It only means that it's a great and beautiful book! Starting from that point ATBP ranked really high on my anticipated 2015 releases and  I did everything that I can to secure an ARC of it. And yes, I was able to. 

This is what I typed in when I finished reading an ARC of ATBP last December 31st: 

 "I guess I'll be celebrating my New Year's Eve with puffy eyes. *sighs* *sobs* Do me (do yourselves a favor) and add this book on your 2015 TBR list. 

Forever. Changed. Theodore. Finch."

I still haven't posted my full review because I want to let everything that happened in this book and all of my feels sink in. Plus, I want to read it again. But I tell you, guys, you really need to check this book out. Jennifer Niven was able to breathe life into these characters and at the same time slowly and carefully tread into issues that needs to be addressed in YA books too. Not many authors brave themselves out and try to deal with issues like with what ATBP have.  If you're thinking that this book is going to be a very dark one because I mentioned "dealing issues", uh nope. I think it's balanced and it was certainly beautifully written. 

Will you need to prepare tissues by your bedside table? Oh yes, please do that. 

Okay, read along now. Check the synopsis for All the Bright Places and my interview with Ms. Jennifer! She chats with me a little bit about herself, All the Bright Places, ATBP movie adaptation and playlists! I'm sure you'll enjoy it! <3

Author: Jennifer Niven (Website | Twitter
Publication Date: January 6, 2015
Publisher: Knopf


The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this compelling, exhilarating, and beautiful story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister's recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.

Pre-order links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks 

Q: Before I proceed in asking you questions about your upcoming book, All the Bright Places, I shall ask you first a little bit something about yourself. What’s your favorite food? Favorite color? Pet peeve/s?

A:  Favorite food: popcorn.  Favorite color: violet, lavender, and other shades of purple.  Pet peeves:  lying, prejudice, and cruelty of any sort.  I also don’t like passive-aggressiveness. And I hate it when people don’t use turn signals or when they try to enter an elevator before the people inside exit!

Q: Who’s your favorite author/s and what is your favorite book/s? How did this particular author/s and book/s influence you as a person and as a writer?

A:  I love Flannery O’Connor, Shirley Jackson, Ray Bradbury, and Harper Lee. One of my favorite books is In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. I also get a lot of inspiration from filmmakers. Charlie Chaplin in particular. All of these artists taught me the importance of being succinct but expressive, and of saying a great deal in the most straightforward way.

Q: Have you always dreamed of becoming a writer? Who or what inspired you to become one?

A: Yes, I always dreamed of being a writer. I was lucky enough to grow up with a writer mom, who taught me that I could be or do anything I wanted to be or do.  I’m an only child, and when I was a little girl, we used to have “writing time.” From her, I learned to find the story in everything, and I learned never to limit myself or my imagination. I also saw firsthand how difficult and stressful and unpredictable the business was.  And I saw the commitment it took.  Even during the toughest, saddest times of her life, she wrote.  In so many ways, she was my hero. I think many people go into the business of writing with unrealistic expectations—not realizing that it is, in fact, a business, and that you have to be ready and willing to do it in spite of everything else.

Q: When you aren’t writing, where would we most likely find you? What are your hobbies aside from writing?

A: I’m almost always writing, but when I’m not you can find me reading, playing with friends, hanging out with my fianc√© and our three cats, hiking, exploring Los Angeles (my favorite city), traveling the globe, binge-watching TV shows, fangirling over Supernatural, or belly dancing!

Q: Since All the Bright Places isn’t out yet in book stores, I won’t be asking much about the story and the characters. But can you give me an idea on how you came up with the story line for this book? Was it an idea that you’ve had for quite some time now or just a random idea you came up with?

A: I wrote All the Bright Places the summer of 2013, following the death of my literary agent of fifteen years.  The last time I saw him, I was nearing the end of a series of books I’d begun writing in 2008 and was feeling depleted and ready for something new and different.  He told me, “Kid, whatever you write next, write it with all your heart. Write it because you can’t imagine writing anything else.”  Years ago, I knew and loved a boy, and the experience was life changing.  I’d always wanted to write about it—I just wasn’t convinced I would ever be able to.  But that summer of 2013, I thought again about this boy and that experience, and I knew in my heart that it was the story I wanted to write.

Q: I know that you’ve previously released other books but All the Bright Places is considered as your YA debut novel. What does it feel like transitioning from being an adult writer to a young adult writer?

A:  A story is a story, no matter the genre, but the greatest challenge in transitioning to a YA audience is that there’s a terrific responsibility that comes with it. These aren’t jaded, world-weary adults you’re writing for—these are teens. You have a responsibility—especially when writing about sensitive issues like sex, bullying, mental health, suicide—to write as honestly and vigilantly as possible. In many ways, the teen audience is the most discerning. Just because they’re young doesn’t mean you should talk down to them. They can spot fakery a mile away, so the voice and the characters need to be authentic. I love the challenge of that. 

Q: With being dubbed as The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park, what do you think separates All the Bright Places from these two poignant novels? What makes it All the Bright Places? Also, what do you consider as the commonalities of these three novels?

A:  I understand why my book is being compared to The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor and Park because they’re all romances between teens who are struggling with their own private issues. All the Bright Places is a tearjerker like Fault in Our Stars, and one of the characters is dealing with an illness. I’m honored to be compared to those books in any way because I love both of them. However, I feel like all three of these novels stand alone and apart from each other. What makes it All the Bright Places is that it deals with some issues people don’t like to talk about—mental illness, loss, suicide.  It’s pretty tough and unflinching, but I wrote it the only way I could. It’s also hopeful. One early reader wrote to tell me that as soon as she read the book, she ran downstairs and hugged her mother. Another reader wrote, “I found after reading this that I wanted to do so much more with my life than just live. This has kick started the bucket list for me.” I hope that the book inspires more of those feelings.  I also hope it inspires us to look deeper at the people and places around us. And I hope it inspires discussions about teen mental health.

Q: Is there a character in All the Bright Places that’s based on someone you know or loosely based on yourself? Are there certain scenes in the book that’s based on your experiences or of your friends?

A:  Weaving my family and friends into my books in some way makes my stories resonate even deeper with me and for me—it makes me feel even closer to the characters and makes me feel even more a part of the journey.  I love to sit back and look at each book and see parts of my history in there—things no one else might recognize— and fragments of the people I love. In terms of Finch and the inspiration for him, as I mentioned I once knew and loved a boy, and that boy was bipolar. I witnessed up-close the highs and lows, the Awake and the Asleep, and I saw his daily struggle with the world and with himself.  While I did do some research into mental illness, it was the experience of knowing and loving this boy that informed my writing the most.

Q: Among all of the characters in All the Bright Places, who do you feel very connected to and why?

A:  Deep in my core where I’m still seventeen, I’m a lot like Violet, who hates her small Indiana hometown and doesn’t feel as if she truly fits in and sometimes keeps her feelings too bottled up because she is always trying to be perfect.  Not to mention, of course, her experience with loving Finch.

Q: By the way, congratulations for the movie deal! It’s so awesome that your book is already in the works for an adaptation when in fact it isn’t released in book stores yet. How did you manage to do that? It’s just so cool.

A:  Thank you! Originally, my film agent was going to wait to try to sell the movie rights once the book was released, but last March we sold the foreign rights to the book to something like twelve countries, which was a lot for a book at that early stage.  (As of right now, we’re up to twenty-nine countries!)  So there was this buzz happening around the book, and my film agent thought it might actually be a good time to show it to Hollywood.

Photo lifted from Jennifer Niven's Instagram page: 
"My All the Bright Places dream cast.
Elle Fanning is already attached as Violet in the film-to-be! 
If only Nicholas 

Hoult was a couple years younger, he'd be my perfect Finch. 
#allthebrightplaces#finchandvioletforever #ellefanning #nicholashoult#ya"

Q: Since Elle Fanning is already attached to play as Violet Markey in the movie adaptation for All the Bright Places and we still don’t have an update regarding who could possibly portray Theodore Finch … do you have a specific actor in mind? When you were writing their characters who were you picturing them out? 

A: When I was writing the book, I always pictured Elle Fanning as Violet.  And now I can’t believe she’s attached to play Violet in the upcoming movie version!  Finch hasn’t been cast yet, but Nicholas Hoult (Warm Bodies, X-Men, Skins) will always be Finch to me. From the beginning, he was who I pictured because he’s wonderfully unique looking—sometimes odd, sometimes handsome, not at all conventional.  And, even more important, he’s a charismatic actor who can play both volatile and sensitive. The only thing is that he looks less like a boy now and more like a man, so we have most likely missed our window… which means I’m completely on board with an unknown actor playing Finch. I can’t wait to see who he is!

I was checking out Ms. Jennifer's Instagram account if there are any photos of her fan casts for All the Bright Places and luckily there were a couple of posts. Then I actually stumbled upon this blog link with her dream casts and her reason why she would love for that specific actor to portray her character. It's a very interesting post and it will really give you a visual on how Jennifer imagined her characters to be.  

Q: Do you have a playlist that you’ve been listening to while you were writing All the Bright Places? If so, can you share it to us? But if you don’t have an existing playlist, could you think of a song/s that would best fit the mood and feel of All the Bright Places?

A:  Yes!  I always make playlists for my books.  I actually have three for All the Bright Places—one for Finch, one for Violet, and one for the book as a whole.  Here are the links to them: Violet - You Start Here, Finch - Songs That Will Change The World and All the Bright Places - Make It Lovely.

Q: Please leave a message to the entire Philippine book community. You could invite them to check out and purchase your book once it’s released here in our country. I hope you’ll be able to visit our country for a book signing in the near future!

A: Thank you so much for reading this interview! I hope you'll read my book when it's released in the Philippines! If you do, please write me at my website ( and let me know and be sure to share your own bright place with me on instagram ( and/or twitter ( or on the official All the Bright Places website (  I want to hear from you! And I hope I’ll be able to meet you in person at a book signing in the near future. I’m crossing my fingers I can come to the Philippines! 

Q: Before we end this interview, I would love to ask ... Where would be your bright place for today?


1 comment:

  1. Great interview, Amanda! I'm soooo looking forward to All the Bright Places! You're so lucky you got to secure an ARC and read it early. ^__^