Recently, my new blogger friend Brittany from Brittany’s Book Rambles and I buddy read Jennifer E. Smith’s new book, Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between (my review) and loved it. I was fortunate enough to interview Jen at last year’s Decatur Book Festival, and now I am fortunate enough to bring you a follow up interview about her latest book. Brittany also has a fun interview from Jen over on her blog! AND I’ve got a little fortune FOR YOU. I won the April #NOVLBox curated by Jen, which contained copies of all three of her main books (The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, The Geography of You and Me, and This Is What Happy Looks Like), all three of which I already owned (I LOVE Jen). So I’m going to share the love! Stick around to the bottom of the post and click over to Rafflecopter to enter to win all three paperback copies!
Last year at the Decatur Book Festival, we talked about how Hello, Goodbye is more of a goodbye versus your other books which are one big hello. Can you talk about the differences in writing that – how this relationship was already in full swing versus at the very beginning, etc.
Yes, it was a lot of fun to write a book that was set up a bit differently than my last few. With STAT, HAPPY, GEOGRAPHY, the characters are just meeting each other, and the book is really about the first steps of their relationships, the getting to know each other part. But this one is about a couple that’s been together for two years, and they’re getting ready to part ways. So it’s a deeper relationship right off the bat, which means more emotion, more baggage, more intensity. And no matter how the night ends, they’re both leaving for college in the morning, which means they’re going to have to say goodbye. The question is just whether it’s goodbye for now or goodbye forever.
Can you talk briefly about the journey you’ve been on from last year (when there wasn’t even a title to the new book) to almost publication date?
I think at this time last year I had finished the book itself, though we were probably still editing it. But that year between getting to the end of the book and waiting for it to come out is always an odd one. On the one hand, the heavy lifting is over, and you’re just working out the details. On the other, you’re excited for people to start reading the book, so it feels like a very long time to wait until it’s officially out in the world.
We had a tough time with the title on this one. It’s the first time in a while that I really couldn’t think of anything, and it took a very long time and a whole lot of brainstorming to get to HELLO, GOODBYE, AND EVERYTHING IN BEWEEN. I absolutely love it, but it’s a little weird for me too, since this is the first time I didn’t come up with one of my titles myself. My editor and her assistant thought of this one, and I’m very, very grateful to them.
As for the cover, that was a fun process. The picture on this one is actually a real engagement photo, which I think makes it feel that much more realistic. I always feel really lucky to have the covers that I do, since I really love the style, but I think this one is particularly great.
For those who haven’t read the new book, can you give us a little insight into Clare and Aiden’s relationship and why they’re making the decision to either split up or try for long distance?
Well, they’ve been together for a couple years, but they’re about to head off to colleges at opposite ends of the country – Clare to New Hampshire and Aidan to California – and while neither of them really wants to break up, the idea of staying together in the face of all that distance seems daunting. Clare is more pragmatic; she thinks it makes sense to end things now on their own terms, rather than slowly drifting apart, which she thinks is inevitable. But Aidan is an optimist, and he believes they can survive it, even when so many others don’t. At the start of their last night, they still haven’t managed to agree on what to do. So they basically have twelve hours left to decide…
Distance (and travel) are always a big influence in your books. Splitting characters apart allows for a lot of developments for the characters and their relationships. What is it about distance that appeals to you in regards to your writing?
Honestly, I think a big part of it is that I don’t like to write bad guys. I prefer to let time and fate and circumstance be the obstacles in my stories. But I’m also fascinated by those same themes – time and distance, chance and serendipity – and so they’re a lot of fun for me to explore, and I tend to keep returning to them in different ways.
What draws you to the contemporary/romance genre?
Mostly, I think it’s just what I tend to gravitate toward as a reader, so it was only natural that I’d end up writing it too. That said, I don’t really think of my books as romances. I realize they have couples on the cover – and hearts! – but the family elements to the stories are really important to me too, so I think of them more as just realistic fiction.
Has your writing style/preferences evolved as you’ve continued to write books?
I hope so! I’d like to think I’m always growing and evolving as a writer. But the crazy part of this process is that every single time I sit down to start something new, it feels like I’m learning to do it all over again for the very first time, which can be thrilling in its own way, but also really challenging. If there are any shortcuts to this whole writing thing, I certainly haven’t figured them out yet!
And like I asked last year, what book(s) are you reading right now?
I just finished A LITTLE LIFE, which absolutely wrecked me, and I can’t stop thinking about it. It might be one of the most impressive novels I’ve ever read. It’s a really tough read, but so, so beautiful. I loved it.
I also just read BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME, which is so important, and I think everyone should read it at some point.
I’ve read a few great YA books this summer too: P.S. I STILL LOVE YOU by Jenny Han, ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL by Jesse Andrews, and SIMON VS THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA by Becky Albertalli, among others.
And I’m in the middle of READY PLAYER ONE right now, which I’m enjoying so far!
One more fun one: if you could have been the original author on any book, which would it be and why?
HARRY POTTER, of course!
Make sure you head over to Brittany’s blog to see the other part of the interview!
Jennifer E. Smith is the author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, The Storm Makers, You Are Here, and The Comeback Season. She earned her master’s degree in creative writing from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and currently works as an editor in New York City. Her writing has been translated into 28 languages.
(THANK YOU TO THE NOVL FOR SENDING ME THESE BOOKS IN THE NOVL BOX!)
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