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Posts Tagged ‘13 Reasons Why’

  • 13 Reasons to Like Jay Asher (an author interview)

    Friday, November 5th, 2010

    If you recall my “Nine Only Slightly Creepy Reasons to Attend a Writers’ Conference” post in September, you’ll remember my mentioning famous author, Jay Asher, and something about how I might possibly have stolen his Kleenex. So, imagine my throat-choking panic a few hours after the post went up, when I received an email from Mr. Asher politely asking for his tissue back. I mean, the guy’s gotta have lawyers, right? However, like any first-class, cheeky blogger would do, I hoisted my petard and refused, based upon the 9/10’s rule (finders-keepers, Jay), and thus we engaged in a series of conversational points through which I quickly discovered that not only is the guy unbelievably nice, he’s hilarious. Seriously. Which is not what I expected from someone who wrote a book which makes people cry.

    Next thing you know, I’m hemming and hawing and asking him for an interview since I want my reading peeps to meet him, and is it okay that the interview won’t exactly be on the 13 reasons why he wrote his book, but rather on random topics such as Hannah Montana and superheroes? To which he graciously replied with something akin to, “Bring it on.”

    So meet Jay Asher, everyone. Author of “13 Reasons Why,” which won a crazy amount of awards and spent 65 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List since its 2007 entrance into the book world. And as of this week, the book’s been signed for publication in 30 countries. Jay’s married to beautiful singer/songwriter, JoanMarie, whom he brags about more than anything else, and who wrote the song “Soul Alone,” which is included (as a poem) in the book version of 13 Reasons Why, concludes the audiobook version of 13 Reasons Why, and is also on her cd (which you can find on the right-hand side of Jay’s blog—click the cd cover—or here). And for more on Jay, you should visit his blog (‘cuz it’s fun—he even has a photo with Vanilla Ice; how awesome is that?), or you can visit his book site by clicking on 13 Reasons Why.

    As to the interview…my questions and comments are in white. His responses are in green. ;-) Enjoy.

    Jay Asher

    (1) All right, between you and me, let’s have it. Did you name your character, Hannah (in 13 Reasons Why), after Hannah Montana? If not, is that a rumor I’m allowed to start?

    J:  I can’t give you permission to start that rumor, but I can’t really stop you if that’s something you want to do. But if you’re going to start a rumor, choose something more juicy than that! Maybe say I named her after Hannah Van Buren, the wife of Martin Van Buren, the eighth president of the United States. Now that’s a cool rumor!

    M:  I’m not sure which impresses me more, the fact that you know Mrs. Van Buren’s name, or that you used it in the same paragraph as “juicy.”

    J:  Did you know Mrs. Van Buren was the very first person to print the word JUICY across the butt of her pants? The fact that women still do that today shows you how much of a trendsetter she was.

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    (2) Whoa! In the same sentence even! Okay, so what are the chances of you basing a character in your next book on, say, myself? Not that you’d have to name her after me or anything. In fact she could even be a nameless extra, but you and I would both know it’s me because she’d be, like, really mysterious and cool.

    J:  I actually did that! In my next book, during the very first classroom scene, the girl two desks over from the main male character was absolutely inspired by you. But it’ll be our funny little secret because no one will know she’s based on you. In fact, I don’t even mention the girl at all, or that there’s even a desk there. But it’s a classroom, so of course there is!

    M:  I knew it. You’re the best. Just make sure she has nerd glasses, okay? I’ve always wanted nerd glasses.

    J:  I have her using a monocle, which I hope will suffice. She’s kind of a cross between you and that rich guy from the Monopoly board game.

    M:  Wait, what?!

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    (3) Speaking of characters, who’s your favorite superhero of all time?

    J:  The first superhero movie I ever saw was Superman, so he was definitely my favorite as a child. But there’s also Mighty Mouse. He’s basically just like Superman…as a mouse. And his theme song is just as cool!

    M:  Plus, they both look good in spandex, which is hard to pull off. Good choice.

    J: I’ve worn spandex, and you’re absolutely right, unless you shave your legs it’s SO hard to pull off!

    M:  *raises eyebrow and resists asking further*

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    (4) What about your favorite book of all time (besides your own, obviously :-))? Are there pictures in it?

    J:  As a kid, my favorite book was The Monster At the End of This Book. And yes, the pictures were hilarious! I can never figure out why Hollywood hasn’t made a movie out of it. Of course, they’d have to call it The Monster At the End of This Movie, and I hate it when they change titles just for the movie.

    M:  Aww…that’s a cute book. I officially approve of you. Let’s be friends.

    J:  Pinky touch! (That’s how I seal all of my friendships.)

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    (5) Good. Now that we’re friends, word on the street is that you wanted to be an illustrator when you were younger (and by “younger” I don’t mean to imply that you are no longer young now…or anything, but…ahem). So what’s your favorite thing to draw?

    J:  Was there a balding joke in there? It sounded like there was a balding joke in there. Anyway, yes, I wanted to write and illustrate my own comic strip. I still think that would be the ideal job. But the one thing keeping me from pursuing that career is that I can’t draw very well. Whenever I illustrate something and show people, all I draw are blank stares. (Get it? Get it???)

    M:  Are you trying to draw me into a battle of the puns?

    J:  I would erase you. (Get it???)

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    (6) I block your eraser and, instead, ask you to describe your wife in one word.

    J:  Inspiring. She inspires my work, and she inspires me as a person.

    M:  Very nice. Good man. And you two are just about ready to have a baby! What are you both most looking forward to as new parents?

    J:  The holidays. I’m a holiday junkie, but they’re never as fun as an adult as they were when I was a child. So I can’t wait to recreate that magic for our son.

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    (7) Cute :-). So, who would win in a spork fight, you or JoanMarie?

    J:  She would. Definitely! She’s much more competitive than I am. It’s very inspiring.

    M:  Competitive women are always inspiring. Have you ever seen them on Black Friday?

    J:  Oh my goodness, that’s a brilliant idea! This year, I think I’ll go to the big shopping centers early on Black Friday and hand out sporks to everyone waiting in line. And then I’ll set up a lawn chair, eat some popcorn, and just watch what happens.

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    (8) Hahaha! That’s awesome. Speaking of which, you’re no doubt aware a pre-requisite for being voted as true awesomeness on this blog is that you enjoy eating. So what are your top three favorite foods?

    J:  I don’t have very complex taste buds, so I’m very easy to please. I could eat spaghetti for many meals in a row. A nice hamburger (do NOT forget the pickles) is always wonderful. And I love the blackened chicken at Bon Temps. Blackened chicken! That’s complex, isn’t it? It’s not regular chicken…it’s blackened!

    M:  Blaaaackened chiiiicken… *wipes drool spot from chin* Hmm? What?

    J:  But only from Bon Temps. They have the best fried green tomatoes, too. (Whoah! It worked! I just wanted to see if I could get you to drool even more.)

    M:  :-I….

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    (9) And do you cook?

    J:  I like to cook, yes. Do I cook very often? No. My stomach doesn’t communicate with my head very well, so I often don’t realize I should start preparing something until I’m absolutely starving. So I eat out way too often.

    M:  Okay, but the one time I saw you eating out (not that I was stalking you or anything), you were eating salad. At least, that’s what it looked like through the fern leaves I was peering out of with my camera. I mean, seriously, can salad technically be considered eating out?

    J:  No, but that was at a coffee shop and I got there at the very end of their lunch time, so all they had left was a little bit of salad. It wasn’t even a full salad! So after you stopped taking pictures and left…I ate the fern.

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    (10)  Hold on a sec, I just laughed coffee up my nose… Okay, all better. So tell us who is your favorite band at the moment?

    J:  As far as contemporary bands, I really don’t know. I should probably come up with a good answer because I’m always impressed by people who claim to love bands I’ve never heard of. So how’s this for an answer: Currently, I’ve been following Harmony Alley Carjackers. No one’s really heard of them yet, but they’re amazing.

    Who’s your favorite band?

    M:  Wait…are they for real, or did you just make them up? ‘Cuz I googled “Harmony Alley Carjackers” and the first link that popped up was for the Backstreet Boys. No joke. Maybe you can sing us a line from “Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely” later? And to answer your question, I have three favorites: Smashing Pumpkins, Starflyer 59, and the Killers.

    J:  I’ve heard of two of your favorite bands, so I’m 1/3 impressed by your selection! Harmony Alley Carjackers is a completely made up band, actually. So, in that sense, they are a lot like the Backstreet Boys.

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    (11) :-). Rumor has it you still listen to Def Leppard…is this true?

    J:  Yes, this is a rumor that’s definitely true. Why are you smirking? I love Def Leppard! I’ve seen them in concert more than any other band. I once camped out for two nights to get front row seats. I also called into a radio show to get tickets to an exclusive show for only 200 audience members. That was amazing! What did I have to do on-air to get the tickets? Next question…

    M:  Oh, there’s no way you’re getting off the hook from defending explaining yourself on this one! So let’s have it. How’d you get the tickets??? And this was—what? Like, last year or something?

    J:  I was in college at the time, but I would still do it THIS year thank-you-very-much. Sadly, no, I can’t let you post what I did to get those tickets. But I will whisper it in your ear. (whisperwhisperwhisper)

    M:  <:-O

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    (12) Almost the last question: Have you ever been attacked by rabid YA fan girls? Just curious…

    J:  What, with chains and brass knuckles and stuff? Uh…no. And I don’t think I’d like that. Do people actually do that when they like an author? That’s weird! Or are you actually talking rabid as in rabies? Are rabies common among YA fan girls? That’s kind of scary.

    M:  Yes. They’re the same fan girls who stalk the Backstreet Boys. Not that I’d know anything about that. I mean, it’s been a few months since I’ve done any stalking so…

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    (13) Final question: Will we still be on speaking terms after this interview? Jay? Hello? Jay?

    J:  Mary, why are you staring at me like that? Um…Mary? Why are the corners of your lips starting to foam? M-m-Mary? MARYYYY!!!!!

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    What’s the mood noise of the moment? Def Leppard, of course.

    ;-)

    Tags: , , , ,
    Posted in A bit of brag, Author Tidbits, Best & Worst Books | 13 Comments »

  • 13 Reasons Why (a book review)

    Thursday, October 28th, 2010

    What if you could have saved someone’s life and you didn’t?

    What if your name was included on a list of 13 reasons why someone committed suicide?

    And what if 12 other individuals had access to that list because 11 of them are also on it?

    High school student, Clay Jensen arrives home one afternoon to find a package on his front porch addressed to him. With no return label. Inside are seven audio cassettes marked in nail polish with numbers and letters, but who are they from? And who listens to cassette tapes nowadays anyway? Clay dashes off to the garage and digs out the old tape player, inserts Cassette 1, Side A, and is shocked to hear the voice of his long-time crush, and now dead friend, Hannah Baker. The Hannah he recently kissed at a party. The Hannah who committed suicide two weeks ago.

    The rules of the tapes are simple, “Rule number one: You listen. Number Two: You pass it on. Hopefully, neither will be easy for you.” And let me just say it now: It won’t.

    Thus begins a night long journey for Clay through Hannah’s carefully mapped out reasons for deeming suicide her only option. One by one, he walks the downtown haunts where each of the 13 stories unfold, her voice coming through a walkman headset as she guides him toward the defining moments leading up to the end of her life–just as the 12 other individuals whom these tapes will pass to (or have already passed through) will do. Clay’s detachment at the initial seemingly unrelated events is gradually followed by frustration. Then horror. Then tears. Interspersed with Hannah’s own tears on tape.

    As the night wears on, Clay’s experience is akin to watching an assortment of toy dominoes being set up, so awkwardly jig-jagged, yet so perfectly balanced, as he awaits that final trigger which will send them colliding. Until the morning shadows grow along with the awful realization that had just one domino (or event) been removed or responded to differently, this might have been enough to alter the course of Hannah’s future.

    In the words of the author, Jay Asher, “Everything affects everything.”

    ThirteenReasonsWhy.jpg

    What I liked:

    1. The premise. How often do I think something’s an original idea? Not very. This is.
    2. It’s literary, which, as you know, is something I particularly appreciate in a YA novel.
    3. The difference between Hannah and Clay’s voices. A pet peeve of mine is when a novel alternates first person narrators and they sound EXACTLY the same (especially when they’re opposite sexes). It leaves one feeling either confused, or bored, or both. Fortunately for us, Mr. Asher nails the tone, attitudes, and style of speech for each individual in a way that other authors should take notes on.
    4. Along those lines, I appreciated that Clay and Hannah’s voices were interspersed with each other, giving the effect of conversation rather than one-sided chunks of information.
    5. Which leads me to the dialogue. There are multiple reasons 13 Reasons Why sat for 65 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and this right here is one of them. Dialogue is tricky to write—let alone one-sided dialogue (or monologue, technically) which sounds conversational. Mr. Asher achieves this on 2 different levels: first through Hannah’s tapes; then through Clay’s internal thoughts.
    6. The message. I respect an author who can make a life-impacting point in a novel without “preaching” at the reader. Not only does Asher accomplish this, he does it well, issuing a convicting challenge along with a measure of hope—the latter of which I found surprising considering the topic.
    7. The fact that Mr. Asher tells reality like it is. Okay, I’ll be honest; this book will be a little too much for some. It’s intense and, at a few points, rather graphic in its endeavor to offer a fairly accurate portrayal of high school life. It’s not that all teens will experience these 13 issues, but I guarantee they’ve dealt with some of them, and probably heard stories about the rest. Is it uncomfortable at times? Yes. Did I cry? Yes. But it gives realistic context to the heavier subjects the youth of today deal with. Bullying. Peer pressure. Rape. Suicide.
    8. The online notes I’ve read from individuals who claim this book acted as a lifeline in their deepest seasons of depression when they felt alone and that no one could relate. Well done, Jay. Well done.

    What annoyed me: Actually…nothing.

    An FYI for next week:  The author of 13 Reasons Why, Jay Asher, will be interviewed by yours truly. Right here. And I predict you’ll like him :-).

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    What’s the mood noise of the moment?  The Fray: How to Save a Life
    :0)

    Tags: , , ,
    Posted in Best & Worst Books, Book Reviews | 12 Comments »

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