Ursula and I are so thrilled to bring you this very special piece on best selling author Jandy Nelson. If you're a long time reader of the site, you'll know that we have an affinity for Jandy that goes beyond what words could ever really say - but we try to say them anyway. Jandy has touched us in ways that are hard to explain, so being involved in the release of a book that means so much to her, that took her so long to write, and that bleeds into our souls just as much as The Sky Is Everywhere did, means more to us than most people will ever realize.
We got to hang out with Jandy Nelson at Decatur Book Festival, and it was one of the best memories of our lives. I'm just saying, if we could - we would slumber party with Jandy at least once a year. Some people come into your lives for reasons that you'll never understand - and beyond the most unreal circumstances. Jandy is one of those people for me. In this post, Ursula and I are gonna share a little piece of our thoughts on I'll Give You The Sun, our time with Jandy, and a little about what having Jandy in our lives means to us. Plus, we've got an interview with some of your burning questions!
So let's get this party started. Warning: There will be lots of feels ahead, so grab your kleenex.
Hanging out with Jandy Nelson is seriously one of the highlights of my entire life. I'm not overly crazy about meeting authors for the most part. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love it. I love meeting people who have written things I love - just as much as I enjoy meeting you guys - other readers, professionals in the business, or maybe just readers of the blog. But Jandy is different. When I read The Sky Is Everywhere, it literally changed my life. You can read my review, which included a letter to Jandy regarding the way it touched me by clicking right HERE. Upon finishing the book, I immediately sat down and wrote. I wrote to Jandy and I cried. We bonded via email (thank you internet!) and continued to stay in touch via social media.
Fast forward a few months to BEA. My dear friend Melody from Bookcrastinators picked me up an ARC of the book, and when I got it in my hands, I knew it would be a repeat performance. I wasn't disappointed. I'll Give You The Sun is such an emotionally painful, but also emotionally healing book. It teaches kids to own their differences. To not be scared of who they are. I'll Give You The Sun tells a story of love. Not just the kind of love between two people who want to get married and have lots of babies and live happily ever after, but a story about love between family, about love outside of the bounds of normal circumstance. It broaches subjects that many authors are scared to touch. Gay teenage boys who aren't sure what to do with these new feelings they have. Lies. Death. But it all comes together with one common theme: Love and Life.
Jandy Nelson is so unique. She's a brilliant soul that shines a brilliant light in my life and the hype behind her books is not at all undeserved. If anything, she deserves so much more. So, if you've never read Jandy Nelson - now is the time. This is the place. Do it.
Over the last 2 years I have attended many signings, festivals, book launches and have been lucky to meet wonderful authors in the process. Meeting Jandy this past weekend at the Decatur Book Festival though was an experience like few and something I had been looking forward to for a long time.
Jandy’s books touched me in a very deep and significant way, though I haven’t gone through the tribulations that Lennie, Jude and Noah have, I was able to relate to each one of them and connect in a personal level, even with those who surround them, so much so that they have stayed with me months after finishing both The Sky is Everywhere and I’ll Give You the Sun.
Jandy is one of the warmest most amazing people I’ve ever met, we spent a couple of hours talking about life, coping with loss and overcoming grief, about music and art, books and more books and how I was married to Eddie Vedder! (I wish that was true.. Haha!) both her books already meant the world to me, my two favorite books actually but after meeting the author behind them in a way you can’t really do over email and twitter, they became even more real, more tangible in many ways.
All I can say is thank you Jandy for writing beautiful books, and creating unforgettable characters and for just being so awesome all around <3
Check out Ursula's review of THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE here.
Check out Ursula's review of THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE here.
Can you talk to us about how your belief in superstitions played into this book? Can you tell us some of the superstitions that would be in your "Bible"?
Like Jude, I had quite a superstitious upbringing. So all the hogwash (as Noah calls it) in the novel is close to the bone for me. I love superstitions. I love the historical or cultural or familial lore that’s usually behind them, love the idea that magic is at play in the world, love that they offer hope and the ability (however illogical/ineffectual) to exert some control over a chaotic universe. And now, drumroll please . . . okay, here are some superstitions from my own “bible” if I indeed had one like Jude does: I carry a blue marble for luck almost everywhere I go; I always lick my finger and then touch the outside of an airplane before getting on it; I put vinegar on my forehead if I really need some extra luck/protection; and you can always find me hunting for four-leaf clovers in the spring. I could go on and on but you get the gist. I had a blast making Grandma Sweetwine’s bible of superstitions. Some were from my kooky family, a few I Frankenstein-ed from an incredible old book called Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore and the Occult Sciences of the World edited by Cora Linn Daniels and C.M. Stevans, and the rest I just made up. It was a joy.
Many readers want to know your favorite authors, poets, and books? Can you give us maybe a top 3 must read list that you would recommend?
My all-time favorite novels are: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, and Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.
The first YA and MG novels I read as an adult were: Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Looking for Alaska by John Green and Walk Two Moon by Sharon Creech. It was life-changing! The voltage in these novels blew me away. I had no idea until then that such incredible literary work was happening in YA.
Others YAs I’m crazy about: Black Swan Green by David Mitchell (not sold as YA but could be—has a fantastic thirteen year old narrator), Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz, A Step from Heaven by An Na. I also love the work of Gayle Forman, Nina LaCour, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Francesca Lia Block, Rita Williams Garcia. And just so many more. I could go on and on!
A few poets I love: Pablo Neruda, Anne Carson, Ilya Kaminsky, John Berryman, C.D. Wright.
I wasn’t very good at picking three in each category, was I?
That's okay Jandy, we don't follow rules here either!
You talked a little about your writing process for this book - locking yourself away in a dark room, with ear plugs, a sound machine, and nothing but the light of the computer taking you into a "portal" of sorts - we were wondering: how did the characters originally come to you? How did they change during the process of writing this book over 3.5 years?
Honestly, I have no idea how/why characters come! It’s so magical and mysterious. But come they do, and with them, their stories, whatever they may be. Lennie in The Sky Is Everywhere came with her clarinet, with her grief all over her, already writing these poems and hiding them all over town. I knew right away she’d just lost her sister and also knew she was about to fall in love. With I’ll Give You the Sun, Jude and Guillermo came first, then Noah quickly followed. (Unfortunately, I can’t give away the stories they showed up with or it will spoil the read.) In terms of how they changed over three and a half years, I think characters become more and more authentically themselves as you write them, as you strip away their layers, as you get to know them on a deeper and deeper level. That’s how it felt with Noah and Jude anyway. At some point, it was like they began acting independently of me, which is when things got really interesting and exciting.
Jandy Nelson, like her characters in I’ll Give You the Sun, comes from a superstitious lot. She was tutored from a young age in the art of the four-leaf clover hunt; she knocks wood, throws salt, and carries charms in her pockets. Her debut novel, The Sky Is Everywhere, was on multiple Best Books of the Year lists, was a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults pick, earned numerous starred reviews, has been translated widely, and continues to enjoy great international success. Currently a full-time writer, Jandy lives and writes in San Francisco, California—not far from the settings ofThe Sky Is Everywhere and I’ll Give You the Sun. Visit her online at www.jandynelson.com or find her on twitter at @jandynelson.
Got a question for Jandy? @PenguinTeen will be hosting a Twitter chat with Jandy Nelson, Stephanie Perkins, and Gayle Forman, soon. Stay tuned for updates on the time and date!!
Pre-order your copy of I’ll Give You the Sun today!
Want a signed / personalized copy? They’re available for pre-order from Books Inc.!
Check out some of our other images from our time with Jandy:
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Be sure to check out the rest of the blog tour, featuring guest posts, interviews, giveaways, and more!
Sept. 1 – Cuddlebuggery
Sept. 2 – Novel Sounds
Sept. 3 – Perpetual Page Turner
Sept. 4 – Forever Young Adult
Sept. 8 – The Young Folks
Sept. 9 – The Book Hookup
Sept. 10 – Grown Up Fangirl
Sept. 11 – Bewitched Bookworms
Sept. 15 – Candace’s Book Blog
Sept. 16 – Novel Novice
Sept. 17 – Alice Marvels
Sept. 18 – Icey Books
Sept. 22 – The Midnight Garden
Sept. 23 – The Starry-Eyed Revue
Sept. 24 – Tales of a Ravenous Reader
Sept. 25 – Katie’s Book Blog
Sept. 29 –GReads!
Sept. 30 –Anna Reads