Thursday, July 8, 2010

Jennifer Sturman [Savvy Scribblers] [Interview]

Today we're welcoming Jennifer Sturman, author of YA titles AND THEN EVERYTHING UNRAVELED and AND THEN I FOUND OUT THE TRUTH as well as the adult titles of The Pact, The Jinx, The Key, and The Hunt.  She has an MBA from Harvard and lives in New York City.  We really enjoy Jennifer's style and her voice, and think you will too.  Find out a little more about Jennifer and her books (but no spoilers) by reading on!

About The Books:
How much research did you have to do about Antarctica?  Were there any interesting tidbits you found out that aren't in the book?

I should probably lie and say I exhausted every available scholarly resource, but the truth is that pretty much everything I know about Antarctica came from Wikipedia (thank you, Wikipedia!). And I definitely came across a ton of interesting “tidbits” that I couldn’t cram into the plot, running the factoid gamut from history to geology to politics. I especially liked the change in perspective you get from tipping the globe over. Geography looks a lot different when the South Pole is on top…

I bet it does!  Speaking of interesting tidbits, you are very talented at writing characters with distinct personalities.  Did you have one that was more fun to write than another?

The goal is to enjoy them all – after all, if a character doesn’t interest me, why should she interest readers? That said, if I absolutely had to pick a favorite (which might be like asking a mother to choose her favorite child), it would be Delia’s Aunt Charley. Her mind works in very strange ways, and what she thinks tends to come straight out of her mouth without any stops along the way. Her character somehow takes on a life of her own when I’m writing – I’m as surprised as anyone by what she says and does a lot of the time.

We adore Charley too, especially after reading TRUTH.  A lot of plot development revolves around the differences between Silicon Valley and New York City.  How did you discover these differences?

In my other life, I work in media and technology, so I’ve spent a lot of time in both places. The differences are pretty extreme, but there’s a similarity in that each culture is all-consuming – when you’re immersed in one, it’s hard to imagine that there’s anything else out there, so it was fun to have them bump up against each other in these books.

It was definitely fun to read about the differences, especially for a relatable character like Delia.  If you would be able to take one character out of the book and spin him/her off into another series, which one would you pick?

I love this question! It would be great to do a hard-boiled detective series with Rafe, or paranormals with Carolina, but Charley is also dying to write a guide to teen movie classics, and Patience definitely has a manifesto in her about how much better everything will be once she’s achieved world domination.

I think we'd all dig Charlie's guide... don't you guys?  Can you tell us a little about why Delia is always really good friends with smart people?  We're not knocking it, actually we adore it, but are curious as to how that element burgeoned.

You know, I never really thought about it! I guess it’s just a natural outgrowth of needing to give characters qualities that help move the story along. Delia’s smart in her own way, but the other characters provide skills and knowledge she doesn’t have.

About Jennifer:
I know this'll be a hard one for you, but... Ready? Set.  Favorite 80's movie. Go!

Valley Girl. Tragically under-rated but deeply, deeply satisfying.

Confession: We've never seen it.  But we've queued it in Netflix, swear.  So, Harvard, huh?  If you had it all to do over again, would you still choose Harvard and would you still get your MBA? And do you have any advice for our readers aspiring to Harvard?

I loved both my college and B-School experience, but things are so competitive these days that I’d probably never get in if I had to apply now! As for advice – I don’t know if I have a good answer to that. Sometimes I actually wish I’d been a bit less focused along the way. I tend to latch onto an objective and bulldoze forward when I might benefit from pressing pause and taking a better look around. So I guess my advice is that there’s more than one thing that can make you happy – Harvard was wonderful, but other paths might have been equally wonderful. Which doesn’t really answer your question, does it?

That's really good advice, for all of us.  Thank you.  When is your favorite time to write?

I fantasize that one day I’ll have regular writing hours and be incredibly productive, but I’m not there yet, alas. Mostly it’s not about having a favorite time so much as desperately trying to find windows when there are no distractions. For me that tends to be early in the morning or late in the afternoon, but it varies.

Who is the biggest inspiration in your life? Why?

In case you haven’t figured this out based on my previous answers, I’m not good at picking just one of anything. For writing alone the list of inspirations is pretty endless. I love the way F. Scott Fitzgerald uses language and Jane Austen shapes characters, but there are also a lot of more commercial authors I admire – John Grisham, for example, is fabulous at plotting, and I’m a huge fan of humorous writers like Patrick Dennis and Janet Evanovich. So there is no single inspiration – I do a lot of mixing and matching instead.

Pretend you're in a time machine.  You get to go back to one year, any year, before you were born or after, which year is it and why?

Does the time machine let you change outcomes, or do you only get to witness what’s happening? Because there have been a number of hair and outfit choices I’d like to go back and rethink given the opportunity….

Ha!  Us too!  Jennifer, thank you so much for chatting with us and for giving us such great insight into your literary views.  We loved having you here at I Heart Monster! And now as a special bonus, we bring you...

Jennifer Sturman's Top Five Underappreciated Eighties Teen Movies:
  1. Say Anything (not technically underappreciated but so good it needs to go on the list regardless)
Don't forget to check out our Inspections of UNRAVELED and TRUTH, where you can enter to win both of Jennifer's books, and the giveaway is open until 8/1!

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