Tuesday, May 19, 2009

(Party) Jennifer E. Smith Talks: You Are Here!

Interview with Jennifer E. Smith, author of the new book You Are Here (and The Comeback Season)
by: Lauren

You are Here’s Emma finds out she had a twin brother that died a couple days after being born. Did you ever wish you had a twin? Do you believe that twins are two halves of a whole?

I definitely wished for a twin when I was growing up – never mind the fact that I already had a younger sister! But I think there’s a certain allure to the idea of twins, and Emma certainly sees it that way in the book. She’s spent so long wishing for someone who understands her, that she immediately latches onto the idea of a missing half when she finds out about her brother. But it takes a whole road trip for her to realize that there are other people in the world who understand her too…
Road Trip Pictures, Images and Photos

Emma and her neighbor Peter go on a road trip during the book. What are some places they visit, and have you ever been to any of them?

The two of them start off in upstate New York (where I went to college), travel down through New York City (where I live now), to Washington, DC (where I’ve visited often), and end up in North Carolina (where my parents now live). So yes, I’ve been to most of the major stops along the way, but they also pass through a handful of places I haven’t been, like Gettysburg and Roanoke. Road trips were a big thing in my family growing up though, and I’ve actually been to 46 of the 50 states (most of them in the back of the Smith family minivan!)

Road trips are often used as a metaphor of the inner journey the characters go on. Is this a reason why you chose to use a trip in You are Here?

Emma’s entire personality has been shaped in reaction to the place where she’s grown up. Her parents are college professors, her siblings are brilliant, and she literally lives in the shadow of a university. In the end, of course, she’s not nearly as average as she thinks she is, but it takes leaving to figure that out. For Emma, getting away from home is what finally makes her learn to appreciate it.
you are here Pictures, Images and Photos

I love the title of the book, as it goes along with people writing “So and so was here” while on a trip. Have you ever done this? If so, where at? Did you have any other possible titles for the novel?

There were never really any other possible titles for the book – You Are Here just fit so perfectly, though it did come about in sort of an odd way. I’m awful with titles, and there are dozens of Word documents sitting on my computer desktop with names like “Chapter One” and “New Chapter” and “Possible Story Idea” – all very unspecific, and not particularly helpful when you’re searching for the right one. So one day, soon after I’d started this book, I was squinting at my screen and trying to remember what I’d called it, and I finally got fed up. I must have had maps on the brain, because I just titled it, in all caps, YOU ARE HERE – so that I could literally locate it on the screen. As I continued writing, I realized just how perfect that was, and from then on, I couldn’t think of it as anything else.
ordinary Pictures, Images and Photos

Emma is stated to be rather ordinary in an extraordinary family. How so exactly?

Well, Emma thinks she’s ordinary anyway. Her dad is a poet, her mother travels the world, her brothers and sisters are all incredibly smart and successful. And though she’s a perfectly normal 16-year-old, “normal” is not something that’s generally celebrated in the Healy family. In the end, it’s the most unlikely person – her oddball neighbor, Peter Finnegan – who helps her to realize she’s not nearly as average as she might think
mix tape Pictures, Images and Photos

Do you ever listen to music while writing? Whether you do or not, are there any songs that you feel fit the theme/storyline of You are Here?

I’m fairly easily distracted, so I don’t often listen to music when writing. Occasionally, I attempt to play something without words, like the instrumental score to a movie, but this inevitably leads to me daydreaming about whatever movie it’s from, and then I start thinking about THAT story instead than my own. But car trips are perfect for playing music; there’s nothing better than a good mix for the road!

Are you beginning work on any new projects? Anything you can let us know at the moment?

I have a few things in the works, but unfortunately, none of them are imminent – probably because I keep starting projects, but not necessarily finishing them. But I have a few ideas up my sleeve that will hopefully find their way to the page very soon!


prophecygirl said...

Great interview - thanks! I got this book yesterday, it looks great!

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Thank you! I'm glad you thought so and I hope you like the book. I really want to read it too.


Kate said...

This is a great interview and the book sounds really good :)

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Kate: Thanks so much, I'm glad you thought so. I know, doesn't it? Perfect summer read!!

Just Your Typical Book Blog said...

Great interview! This has been one book I've been looking forward to reading


Shooting Stars Mag said...

Amber: Aw, thanks. I really want to read this one as well. I think people should definitely go and check it out. Looks fun.