Interview: Jennifer Niven | Author of All The Bright Places

Jennifer Niven, is the amazing author of All The Bright Places and Holding Up The Universe. Jennifer is not only an incredible author but also a lovely person and she was kind enough to answer some questions for an interview about her books, writing and her life.... enjoy!....

If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?  
I heard that you wrote All The Bright Places in six weeks. How!? 

Actually, I’ve been traveling so much lately for my book tour—and I leave again soon for a few weeks—that I’d be right where I am now:  home. 

For Finch and Violet's geography project, they visit lots of 'wonders' of Indiana. Where/what/who are some of your own 'Wonders'? 

My greatest wonder/bright place was my mom. She died a few months ago, and I’ve taken solace in my other wonders—my fianc√©, my three literary kitties, my best friends, my family, and Los Angeles, where I live. I’m giddy in love with L.A., and it will always be my favorite place to wander.

In All The Bright Places, Finch's mental illness is undiagnosed, what made you write him this way? 

Eighty percent of people with mental illnesses go undiagnosed, and bipolar disorder is particularly hard to diagnose in teens. I wanted to alert readers to the signs of this illness so that they know to pay attention, to reach out, that you shouldn’t try to hide what you’re feeling from others, that you don’t have to do this by yourself, and that there is help out there for those who need it.

You previously worked as an actress, can we expect to see you acting the film adaptation of All The Bright Places?

That’s up to the producers and director, but I’d love to have a cameo in the movie!

What's your guilty pleasure TV show? 

I love TV! But my favourite show is definitely Supernatural.

I really just wrote the story I knew. Years ago, I knew and loved a boy, and that boy was bipolar. I witnessed up-close the highs and lows, the Awake and the Asleep, and I saw his daily struggle with the world and with himself.  The experience was life changing, and for a long time I wasn’t sure if I could write about it. But once I started, I found I couldn’t stop.

You've written fiction, memoir and non-fiction, what made you move onto young adult? 

Even when I was writing adult fiction and nonfiction, I read young adult books for pleasure. Of all the genres, I’ve always enjoyed reading YA most, and I’ve always known I wanted to try to write a YA of my own one day. In the summer of 2013, I was finishing work on the last in a series of adult novels, and I knew that for my next project I wanted to do something new and different. So I decided to think of a YA idea, which led me to the story of the boy I knew and loved.

Which author would you love to collaborate with? 

I’d love to collaborate with David Levithan because he’s not only THE loveliest person, he’s a brilliant writer and I think we’d have a lot of fun. I’m also a huge admirer of Melvin Burgess and Phil Earle, and it would be terrific to work with them.

When writing All The Bright Places, did you cast the characters in your head for the movie? 

Yes! I always pictured Elle Fanning as Violet, and now she’s going to be playing Violet in the film version, which I’m so, so excited about! The person I pictured for Finch is Nicholas Hoult, although sadly he’s too manly and mature to play the role now. As for the other characters, here’s a link to a piece I did on my dream cast:

What advice would you give to budding authors?  

Write, read, and work hard.  Remember to enjoy it. Don’t get hung up on making it perfect, because there’s no such thing. Write the kind of book you’d like to read. Write what inspires you.  Write what you love.

A huge thank you to Jennifer for doing this interview. Be sure to check her out on sisal media as well as reading her books.