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Interview with...

Jenny Valentine

El Templo #33 (abril 2013)
Por Carlota Echevarría
2.634 lecturas

Many of your characters have dysfunctional families. What makes this type of familiar relationships special for a writer like you? Do you think they represent today's society?

I am honestly not trying to represent today's society. I wouldn't presume. Dysfunctional relationships are just interesting to me because they make better stories. Who wants to read about a perfect happy family with nothing to hide? Not me. I would get bored. One of the best things about writing a story is that you have access to everyone's secrets.

One of the aspects we like the most about your books are the strong and realistic voices of your characters, particularly the teenagers. What process do you follow to get to know them so well and to create dialogues so natural?

I don't follow any process, not really. I certainly don't study teenagers like they are a different species. I just inhabit a character. When I start writing a story in the first person I am inside it, looking out, not hovering above. And I use my ears. I read the dialogue out loud and listen. If it doesn't sound right I change it.

Before publishing Finding Violet Park you had another job. What made you start writing?

Boredom, ambition, a love of stories. And Eileen, the real Violet Park. She was an old lady I knew when I was about 19. After she died her ashes were kept in an office. They are still there. The human in me felt strange about it, the writer knew it was the beginning of a good story.

We have read in your biography that studying English literature "almost put you off reading but not quite". Nevertheless you decided in the end to write your own stories. What do you like the best about being a writer?

It almost put me off because we had to take stories apart like they were engines. I'm not a mechanic. The thing I like best about writing is exactly the same thing I always loved about reading. The getting lost. The leaving your own life and immersing yourself in someone else's. I am all about the escape.

 

How do you develop your ideas for a novel? Do you plan everything beforehand?

I plan nothing. I have an idea and I just start. I never know the end of a book until about ten pages before. If it tries to reveal itself to me I don't look. The way I write a story is the same as reading one. I want to know what happens next so I keep going.

Your novels have different titles in the US editions. What do you think about the American titles of your books?

To be honest, I prefer the original titles. But I trust the American publishers to know their readership and I trust their judgement. I'm OK with the changes. It doesn't offend me at all.

We know that sometimes American publishers make changes in the original manuscript (like deleting a few paragraphs or changing the end). Has that ever been the case in any of your novels?

Yes. But never the end! We edit the book again but we work together on it and they never force you to make changes. It's more language and idiom. And they don't seem to get my jokes.

In your opinion, what is the best about writing for children and teenagers?

The books I read and loved as a young adult are the books I return to again and again. I think children and teenagers are much better readers of stories than adults. They get pulled in further. They're not reading on the way to work or before they fall asleep. They're paying more attention.

 

Do you usually read teen literature by other authors? Which book(s) would you recommend to someone who has read (and loved) your novels?

John Green, John Green, John Green.

How can your readers get in touch with you? We've seen that you don't have a website, but some authors like to connect with their readers in a more traditional way.

I am thinking about a website. But first I want to finish another book! And letters to the publisher always reach me.

Your novels are set in the here and now. Have you ever thought of trespassing those boundaries?

No way. I'm too lazy for the research. And I'm far more interested in people, who are the same wherever and whenever they live.

How about the future? What are you planning for the next couple of years?

A new book. I want it to be very good. It is driving me crazy.

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