Congratulations on your success! What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Thank you! My advice to aspiring authors is it's all about self-belief. Rejections hurt and can make you doubt yourself and feel like you'll never make it. And you will be rejected, no matter how awesome you are (because sometimes rejections truly aren't about how good or bad the work is). But you have to believe in yourself. You have to believe that you will eventually get published. And you have to keep trying. Don't ever give up. You'll get there.
Both of your books dealt with serious social issues that teens go through. In Hate List it was bullying and a school shooting and in Bitter End it was about abuse. What attracted you to these kinds topics and what makes it interesting to write about?
What makes those subjects interesting to me is that they're real. Teens are dealing with those issues (as well as many other tough social issues) every day, and I think it's important to get people thinking about, and talking about, them. In my mind, thinking and talking about tough social issues are the first steps to making changes, and that's what I'd really like to see--a day when school shootings no longer exist and relationship abuse no longer happens, and many other positive social changes. Teens are powerful--more powerful than they sometimes realize, I think--and are totally capable of bringing about positive changes in this world. I like writing books that reminds them of how powerful they really can be.
Do you think you'll continue this trend with your writing?
I do imagine I'll continue to write about social issues, but I'm also eager to prove that I'm not a one-trick pony, and have some other ideas in the works as well. Ultimately, I'd like to have a nice balance of work in many different genres exploring many different thoughts.
Even though you write teen fiction, do you see yourself writing for other audiences in the future?
I do have an interest in writing for other audiences. Last year I wrote a middle grade fantasy novel that I'd like to see published someday and right now I'm working on an adult literary novel. I'm a big believer in writing the story that wants to be written, and have dabbled in mystery and women's fiction in the past (and am a former humor writer!), so I would never squash a project just because it wasn't YA, or any other genre.
What do you have planned for next?
Right now I'm finishing up copyedits on my third YA novel, which is called Perfect Escape. It's about a sister who runs away with her older brother to try to cure him of his OCD (and also to run away from her own problems, but she doesn't like to admit that). After that, I do have some stories up my sleeve, but those are still in the thinking stage.
If Valerie and Alex met, what do you think would happen?
I'm hoping that they'd be understanding of each other's situation, given all they'd gone through. I'd even like to think they'd find a commonality and would be friends. But, let's face it, Valerie's going to be a tough nut to crack her whole life. It will take a lot to build a friendship with her, and I'm not sure Alex will have it in her to try hard enough, especially since she already has Bethany and Zack in her life.
For more information about Jennifer and her books, please visit her website: Jennifer Brown