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YALLWEST 2016: An Interview with Jennifer Niven

The following post by Food, Fitness & Fiction Contributing Editor Josh Flores was written in collaboration with Germ Magazine.

YALLWEST 2016 was extraordinary. From ARC giveaways to exclusive author keynotes, the event was everything book lovers could have dreamed of, and more. I enjoyed meeting so many passionate book fans, as well as authors who were so enthusiastic and wonderful.

One of the highlights of YALLWEST was having the opportunity to chat with Jennifer Niven, author of All the Bright Places and the upcoming Holding Up the Universe (we are pictured below). Our conversation below includes exclusive sneak peeks of the plot of Holding Up the Universe, some fun facts about her personal life, and a little bit of Supernatural love. Enjoy!




JF: How was your experience writing Holding Up the Universe compared to that of All the Bright Places?

JN: It was an interesting experience writing Holding Up the Universe for a lot of reasons; with every book you feel like you’re starting from scratch. I think with doing the second young adult book, it was really tough for me because I’ve been living in Finch and Violet’s heads since I wrote [All the Bright Places]. I was still touring with the book when I started Holding Up the Universe so it was very hard to switch perspectives.

JF: At previous events, you have mentioned that All the Bright Places was a very personal story for you. Is Holding Up the Universe just as personal for you?

JN: “[Holding Up the Universe] is personal in different ways. All the Bright Places was the story that I’ve carried around with me for a while and it’s something I’ve always wanted to write. It’s one of the more profound and tragic things that has happened in my life—knowing a boy like Finch and losing a boy like Finch. [Holding Up the Universe] comes from a lot of different places in my life, not just one experience. One character deals with weight issues, and when I was younger I dealt with weight issues when I was twelve and thirteen. I know what bullying feels like and how it feels to be anxious. A lot of those feelings went into [my upcoming release]. I have dear people in my life that have Prospopragnotia, which is face blindness, which my main character has. I don’t have it but I know them and I understand through them what it’s like. It’s personal, but from a collage of different experiences.

JF: What can fans of your previous work expect from your upcoming title?

JN: It is similar in that these are two characters and it’s again dual narration. They are both dealing with issues, like in All the Bright Places. People are saying, “How many boxes of tissues will [I] need for [Holding Up the Universe]?” which is totally fair question. I always say that where All the Bright Places [is] ten boxes, this is like five. You will still get the feels but it’s maybe a little lighter.”

JF: How do you like to #moveitorloseit (stay fit and active), especially when you write and travel so much?

JN: I love working out. I love hiking; I hike once a week with my best friend. We usually go to the beach or go running. I have about a thousand food allergies so I can only eat about three things in the world; because of that I have to eat healthy, although I cheat sometimes. I love dancing – [I] just moved recently and I can actually walk to the dance studio. Everyday I’m taking two or three dance classes. They have hip-hop, contemporary, jazz, and salsa. Sometimes its just a mix of everything; we just dance it out.

JF: If you could live in any YA universe, what would it be?

JN: I would probably live in Harry Potter world; that would be awesome.

JF: What fictional character do you identify with the most and why?

JN: I’ve always loved Alice from Alice in Wonderland; she’s probably my favorite. I related to her from an early age. I don’t know if I still relate to her, but I just loved how impatient she was and everyone just losing their heads around her. She loved cats; she was such a strong character with a big imagination.

JF: As any fan of your work knows, you are a very big fan of the TV show, Supernatural. What do you enjoy the most about the series? Why Do you like Sam particularly?

JN: This is a very easy question to answer. Sam I followed from Gilmore Girls. I first fell for him when he was Dean. The first year of Supernatural I was like, ‘He is Dean, not Sam.’ I fell in love with Jared Padalecki in Gilmore Girls and loved him. Then when I heard he had Supernatural, I was like, “This is perfect.” I always loved the Hardy Boys when I was growing up. I loved mystery and I loved anything that was creepy or supernatural. It has Jared Padalecki and another cute boy so it’s the perfect show. I knew right away that I was going to be watching it because of him and then I just stayed twelve seasons later almost. I am a Sam girl in my heart.

To learn more about Jennifer Niven and her wonderful work, visit her website. You can also read previous Food, Fitness & Fiction interviews with Niven here and here.

Joshua Flores, a junior from Tustin, California is currently an editor for the Beckman Chronicle and enjoys both reading and writing. He spends most of his free time writing, and coming up with weird characters for the novel he is working on. You can follow him on Instagram at @booklover41899.


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About The Author

Elisa Zied is a nationally recognized and award-winning health and nutrition expert, author, speaker, and spokesperson. A trusted source of food, nutrition, and health information, Elisa has garnered millions of media impressions, lending her expertise and real-world perspective to dozens of TV shows, web sites, news organizations and magazines. She’s the author of four nutrition books. An avid walker, she loves motivating others to #moveitorloseit. A book lover, she recently earned a certificate in children’s literature from Stony Brook Southampton and is currently working on several young adult novels. You can find her previous Food, Fitness & Fiction posts here and connect with her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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