Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Author Interview: Jennifer Brown

So today I'd like all of you to welcome Jennifer Brown, the debut author of Hate List!

A little about Jen: Jennifer Brown, debut author of Hate List is a two-time winner of the Erma Bombeck Global Humor Award and is a columnist for the Kansas City Star. She lives in Missouri with her husband and three children.

Hate List by Jennifer Brown
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Release Date: Available Now
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Summary: Five months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets. Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.

So let's welcome Jennifer:

1. When was it that you realized you had to be a writer and nothing else?
Probably when I finished writing my first novel (now one of many trunk novels) and saw how totally satisfying it is to just have finished such a mammoth project. I was hooked, not on publication or on reader feedback, but on the craft of storybuilding. I knew I could never go back to not "currently working on a novel."

2. Where did the inspiration for Hate List come from?
I was bullied in junior high and high school. That kind of thing tends to stick with you over the long haul, and I think I had yet to really "wrap my head around" all the feelings and thoughts that I'd stored up inside myself during that time. Not that I had a plan to sit down and write a book about bullying, but when Valerie came into my head (the morning after a song -- "If Everyone Cared" by Nickelback -- got stuck in my head while I was sleeping), and her voice began to come to life... I went right back to that sad place. I was able to draw off of real feelings and real events that I'd been holding in, and next thing I knew I had a story!

3. What was the hardest part about writing Hate List? The easiest?
The hardest part for me was making Valerie likable. I wasn't sure I'd be able to show someone that mired in grief and fear and confusion and anger and still make her someone that the reader cared about and wanted to see "win."

The easiest part was writing Dr. Hieler. I've been married to him for over a decade.

4. What book are you reading right now?
GOING BOVINE, by Libba Bray.

5. What is your favorite all time young adult novel released any time? Why?
Oh, come ON! This is too tough! Okay, probably ARE YOU THERE, GOD? IT'S ME, MARGARET, because that book really changed how I saw what books could talk about. Also, because it represents the time of my life where books really began to be my true love.

6.While you’re writing a book, what do you do when you get writer’s block (if at all)?
I actually don't believe in Writer's Block. I believe in Writer's Laziness. And Writer's Distraction. And Writer's Fear. And a whole host of other maladies we chalk up to writer's block. I keep writing, even when I don't feel like it and when it's tough and when it sucks and just plan to cut out the bad stuff later. But I never stop. I know that eventually I'll get back on track.

7. Are any of your characters based off of people you know? Is Meghan’s character supposed to be you?
Only Dr. Hieler was definitely based on someone I know. Bea is sort of very loosely based on my best friend's mom. My mom claims she can see me in Valerie, and I guess I can see that too. But otherwise, no.

8. Favorites’ time!

Cadny- Cherry Mash

Food- Mediterranean

Fictional Character- (another toughie!) Hmmm... how about Grandma Mazur from Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series.

Author (that is not your same genre!) - Maya Angelou

Singer- The Beatles

9. What is one thing no one knows about you?
I once got to sit on John Lennon's couch in a private room at a Hard Rock Cafe.

10. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you so much for having me, and thanks for supporting Hate List!

Thanks Jennifer!

I've never heard of Cherry Mash. I love the Beatles too!

Visit her website for more information about her and Hate List.


  1. Great interview! I have to read this book now :D

  2. I really liked Hate List, and I was impressed with how Jennifer made Valerie both sympathetic and likable. This is an awesome interview :)