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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Author Interview: Jennifer Brown

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.

For more info on Jennifer, visit her site:

Hate List by Jennifer Brown
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Release Date: Available Now
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 416

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.

Check out my review of Hate List here.

Author Interview:

1) Jennifer, when was the first moment you knew you wanted to become a writer? Well, there wasn't really any big epiphany moment for me. I always wrote, even as a little kid, but I never really considered that I could do it for a living. Instead, I would work at all these jobs I hated and in my down time I would blow off steam by writing. I wrote a lot of poetry during my "hating working in an office" days. Close to 100 poems. And a couple short stories that will likely never see the light of day. When my older son was born and I decided to stay at home with my kids for a few years, I had this idea that maybe I might try to get some things published and that's when I really started chasing the dream. Even today, though, I don't really feel like any more of a writer than I ever was. I'm still putting out the same amount of writing as I always did. It's just that it's no longer only me reading it.

2) What inspired you to write Hate List? Actually, it was probably a combination of things that gave me inspiration. But if I were to pinpoint one thing that gave me the idea to write HATE LIST, it would be the band Nickelback. Their song, "If Everyone Cared" got stuck in my head one night, and stayed stuck while I slept. When I woke up, I had the idea for Hate List. I sat down with my coffee first thing in the morning and drafted the outline.

3) Are the characters in the book based on someone you know? My mom contends that the main character, Valerie, was me in high school. I certainly think some of her story was inspired by things I experienced, and many of her feelings might have been similar to feelings I had, but really she's her own person. I suppose some of the other characters are combinations of people I've known or met, but I never had any specific person in mind while writing any of the characters. They're their own people.

4) What was the hardest part of writing Hate List? The rewrites were tough, not because I didn't think I could do them, but because I didn't want to let my editor down. He's an amazing guy with an uncanny sense of story and I wanted to make him proud. Also, I always think the first few chapters are difficult to write, because you're just getting to know the characters and the story. I felt like I did a lot of rewriting of the first few chapters. I had to get to know Val better!

5) If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in Hate List? No, I'm really satisfied. I truly believe the story is the best it could possibly be.

6) How do you feel about debuting your book? I'm trying not to think about it too much, because it is nerve-wracking, in an exciting sort of way. I'm a little nervous about how it's going to change how my family dynamic works, with me going from full-time stay-at-home mom and part-time writer to full-time stay-at-home mom and full-time writer. My family's so supportive of me, though. We'll do all right.

7) Are there any new authors that have sparked your interest? There are so many talented new authors out there. I belong to the 2009 Debutantes, which is an online group of 2009 debut YA authors ( and I've been so impressed with the talent I've seen there. But I have to say if I'm going to get all fangirly about any single one of them it would be Jackson Pearce. Every time I read something of hers I get intimidated. And I love that about her! (And her blog is way cute!)

8) What book are you currently reading? Well, I'm never reading just one book! Right now I'm reading THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z (a book written by a Debs author, Kate Messner. And, by the way, I'm loving it!), and I'm reading CRANK by Ellen Hopkins (my daughter's best friend loaned it to me because she loved it so much), and my big reading project of the summer is DROOD by Dan Simmons.

9) Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? Well, definitely thank you for reading. And for supporting me. I think the YA audience is the most supportive audience in the world. The bloggers are amazing. I love it!!!

10) Tell us something about yourself that no one knows about. I always had a dream of learning to play the piano, so when I turned 30, I taught myself to play. And I cried when I learned how to play John Lennon's "Imagine." I had fulfilled a lifelong dream, and had done it all on my own! Big moment for me.

**Thank you so much Jennifer for taking the time out to this interview!**


Taschima Cullen said...

Awesome, awesome!

Thanks for the interview Eleni!

elizabeth said...

Great interview! Hate List sounds like a great book! I like that Nickelback inspired her writing.

StephTheBookworm said...

This is awesome! I've had this one on my TBR list for a while. It looks amazing.

Kelsey said...

Great interview! I really need to read this soon! :)

Kristin Rae said...

Great interview. Got this book on my TBR list.

Stephanie aka The Stark Raving Bibliophile said...

I really liked Hate List, and I thoroughly enjoyed this interview. I love the fact that the novel was inspired by a song.

Alyssa Kirk @ Teens Read and Write said...

Great interview. I think she's one of the best debuts this year!

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