Yesterday, March 29, 2016, I had the most amazing experience of meeting Jennifer Niven in the flesh. Ever since I read All The Bright Places way back January 2015, I immediately wanted to meet Jennifer and ask her tons of questions about her book. Getting the opportunity of seeing this dream through made me so glad to have been alive. Words could not express just how much I enjoyed (and cried) during this event. And I am forever grateful to both Penguin Random House International, and National Book Store for bringing her to the Philippines.
There’s me with my signing buddy, Jasmine of Jasmine Pearl Reads! We’ve been great friends ever since we’ve met and going on this wonderful experience made it all the more lovely!
So of course, I was more than excited to go to the event early in the morning. I met with Jasmine at around 8:00am, (she was late) and we ate breakfast before going to the event. We were both pumped to finally meet the loveliest author ever, and we definitely didn’t want to face her with an empty stomach. (Lol.)
Signing events like this one is a great avenue for bloggers, booktubers, etc., to meet and catch up with one another, and of course, we took this as a chance to do so. I’ve missed all my friends, and this was the first time I saw them again after the Sarah J. Maas signing last March. Of course, we discussed books. What else do we have to talk about, right?
When Jennifer arrived, we went straight down on the Q&A portion of the event since we only had limited time. I’ve gathered a few of her answers and as always, I’m listing them down below. Also, there are major spoilers included so if you haven’t read All The Bright Places yet, I suggest you skip this part, and read after all bullets have been listed.
- (I was the first to ask a question, and I asked her the biggest question that ever came to my mind after reading All The Bright Places: “If you were ever to write a sequel to your book, what do you think is in store for Violet Markey?”) Jennifer stated that after losing Finch, Violet continues to wander the world. That was what Finch would have wanted for her to do. That is, after she graduates. She has a lot of bright places ahead of her, and she would someday write about her Theodore Finch. (I was already in tears at this point.)
- If she was ever given the chance to change the ending of All The Bright Places, she would turn it into a “happy” one so that her readers could have read a cheerful book, but since All The Bright Places was something about her personal experiences, she had to stay true to her story.
- When asked if other characters in the book could have done anything differently to have made Finch stay and chose to live, she told everyone that his parents could have paid more attention. His classmates, who constantly called him a freak, could have been more accepting and less judgmental. As for Finch, he could have been more responsible. He could have asked for help and reach out, and let people in.
- When asked as to how much research went in the process of incorporating Mental Health Issues to her story, she told everyone that she did research about it and even asked for opinions of several professionals, but at the end of the day, it was just about knowing this “boy”, his own Finch, that made her story a lot more heartfelt and accurate.
- When asked what her readers could expect for her upcoming book Holding Up The Universe, she shared with everyone that Jack and Libby’s story is not as heartbreaking as Finch and Violet’s. If you used up 10 tissues boxes while reading All The Bright Places, you might use up only 5 with Holding Up The Universe. HUTU is about “finding your place in this world, and seeing people for who they truly are, and not just from the outside.” She also admitted that it was hard to step up to Jack and Libby’s story because she lived in Finch and Violet’s for so long. However, when she finally did, she had fun writing their story.
- After the death of her agent, writing a new book was the last thing on her mind. But when she talked to new agents, they told her that she should write something that was truly heartfelt, and she could not think of a better way than to honor her agent.
- Having tons of say on the movie adaptation was both an intimidating and scary process for Jennifer. Every scenes in the book to her were all crucial, and that was one thing that made it so hard for her. She also wanted to honor her readers and their reading experiences so she was really careful.
- When asked about writing breaks, she told everyone that she enjoyed spending time with her family and friends, she also took dance classes because she loved dancing. She also loved to hike, and LA was such a great venue for this. She also loves to read and travel, and of course, binge watching Supernatural.
- The main reason why she felt like Finch and Violet’s story had to be told was because Mental Illness is something that we should talk about. At first, adults had a lot of issues about it, but afterwards, Teens started to reach out to her on social media saying just how moved they were to read her story and how they felt the message of the book. It is really important to talk about so she told their story.
- When asked regarding her writing process for Holding Up The Universe, Jennifer mentioned that every book requires to be written differently, and it was hard to get into Jack and Libby’s heads mainly because she lived inside Finch and Violet’s for such a long time. In order to move on with HUTU, she created two separate playlists for both characters, seeing that her next book is written in dual perspectives. Jennifer doesn’t usually write to music if it has words as it distracts her, but in the case of HUTU, she most certainly did and ended up listening to both playlists, and wrote in both perspectives.
And as if those heart wrenching answers weren’t enough, she also gave out such an emotional message to her readers which, in my own opinion, completely slayed me. I was downright sobbing after watching her get teary eyed. Thanks to Kai of Amaterasu Reads for the video!
Of course, after the interview came the signing proper. We lined up, waiting in anticipation to get our moment with Jennifer. Some of my friends were urging me to immediately line up and have Jennifer sign my books, but I told them that I needed a minute to compose myself. They were all very supportive in a way.
But when my turn came, of course, I cried. I don’t know. I couldn’t keep it all in. I was so overwhelmed to be meeting her right in that moment and I literally broke down in front of everyone. I’m not sure if I’m proud that I did, but it felt nice to have been able to personally share my sentiments with one of my favorite authors. It truly was an amazing experience.
Since I knew that I will be a mess when I get to meet Jennifer, I opted to put my thoughts into writing. I gave her a letter that I wrote days before the event, and it contained everything that I wanted to tell her. I told her how much All The Bright Places means to me and how it helped me cope up during a depressing phase. It was all very emotional, really.
In the end, I was able to snag a decent photo with Jennifer, as well as have my book signed by her with a quote that meant the universe to me.
Immediately after the signing proper, Jasmine and I went to bond with more friends! We opted to eat lunch first, of course!
Again, that’s my good friend Jasmine, Me, Inah and Jem of The Bibliophile Confessions. It feels so good to finally see them again!
In addition to everything I’ve said above, I’m also very happy for my good friend Jayvee of Writer for Misfits because this event was just as much a dream come true for her as it was to me. She and Jennifer have been good friends for the longest time and there’s actually a character in Holding Up The Universe named Jayvee! It’s such a great honor to have a character named after you, and again, I’m so so happy for my sweet pea!
This event is all that I’ve dreamed of and more. It was such an honor to meet Jennifer and all of this giddiness would not have been possible without National Book Store and Penguin Random House. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
If you have the time, check out these lovely recaps as well:
Were you there to witness this emotional event? Share your #JenniferNiveninPH experience with me through the comment section down below!
Until the next one guys!