Ask the Author: Jennifer Brown (Shade Me)

Samstag, 7. November 2015

For todays Ask the Author I've contacted the very lovely Jennifer Brown, author of Shade Me (and Hate List and a couple of other awesome books that you should check out). Personally I am more then just looking forward to January 2016 when Shade Me will come out so I was thrilled when she agreed to answer a couple of my Qs.
   Here's her book and her As:

Shade Me by Jennifer Brown
Expected Publication: January 19th 2016 by Katherine Tegen Books
Number of Pages: 448 Pages (Hardcover)
Series: Yes, #1 in the Nikki Kills Series (?)

   Nikki Kill does not see the world like everyone else. In her eyes, happiness is pink, sadness is a mixture of brown and green, and lies are gray. Thanks to a rare phenomenon called synesthesia, Nikki’s senses overlap, in a way that both comforts and overwhelms her.
   Always an outsider, just one ‘D’ shy of flunking out, Nikki’s life is on the fast track to nowhere until the night a mysterious call lights her phone up bright orange—the color of emergencies. It’s the local hospital. They need Nikki to identify a Jane Doe who is barely hanging on to life after a horrible attack.
   The victim is Peyton Hollis, a popular girl from Nikki’s school who Nikki hardly knows. One thing is clear: Someone wants Peyton dead. But why? And why was Nikki’s cell the only number in Peyton’s phone?
   As she tries to decipher the strange kaleidoscope of clues, Nikki finds herself thrust into the dark, glittering world of the ultra-rich Hollis family, and drawn towards Peyton’s handsome, never-do-well older brother Dru. While Nikki’s colors seem to help her unravel the puzzle, what she can’t see is that she may be falling into a trap. The only truth she can be sure of is that death is a deep, pulsing crimson. (

Interview with Jennifer Brown

   1 – Describe Shade Me with a haiku.
   Okay, but fair warning…I am the world’s worst poet!
   Nikki’s colors show
   crime and passion and a task:
   Solve Peyton’s attack

   2 – What sparked the idea for Shade Me, and especially the part where Nikki sees emotions as colors?
   I find synesthesia to be fascinating. And I love the idea of having this character, who has never been able to fully appreciate this special part of herself, begin to see it as an amazing tool—in this case, one that can solve a crime. There are lots of ways senses can link with synesthesia, and I chose emotion after I read a case study about a synesthete whose connection was just that. I thought it would give Nikki a sort of ever-changing world of color to deal with. Also, I think it would be cool to understand an emotion as a color. Wouldn’t it be handy to know that the “awkward” you’re feeling around someone is actually the green of mistrust or the purple of shyness or the gray of fear?

   3 – What was the most challenging about writing Shade Me and which scene was the most fun to write?
   Integrating the colors in a way that didn’t just laundry list them was quite a challenge. I wanted to be sure my readers “saw” the colors with Nikki and didn’t just know that she was seeing them.
I had such fun writing intense, flirty, sexy scenes, because I never get to write that kind of thing. All of my other YA’s have either had zero sex and romance or doomed sex and romance, so this was a fun change. I also loved writing the fight scenes, because I got the opportunity to act them all out with a couple of black belts before writing them down. Nikki is a badass and I love it!

   4 – What do you like most and least about your main character, Nikki?
   She is bold and fearless, or at least she presents herself that way. She isn’t afraid to follow leads, even if they’re sketchy and taking her to frightening places. She’s all-in with everything she does, and I love that about her.
I wish she was just a teeny bit less closed off, emotionally. But there are still more books to come, so…

   5 – In retrospective, is there anything that you’d change about the story or are you happy with the way it turned out in the end?
   I’m very happy with the way it turned out, and especially since I’ve been working on Book 2 and can see where the story is heading. Will I forever find flaws in it and things I wish I could change? Sure, but I find that in all of my novels. It’s a perfectionism thing. If you gave me 100 years to work on a novel, I would still want “one more day to fix that one little thing...”

   6 - How long does it usually take you to finish a story? Do you have a writing routine or do you write whenever creativity hits you?
   Depends on the story. SHADE ME took me a little longer, because it’s a longer story than I usually write, and a little more complex. And my middle grade novels don’t take anywhere near as long as my YA’s or my women’s fiction, because they’re much shorter. I would say I can comfortably put out a rough (ROOOOUGH) draft in 2-3 months. But I have been known to binge-write and crank out a book in a couple weeks.
   I’m a pretty routine-driven kind of girl. I used to have to write whenever I could get a few seconds of quiet time (rare when you’re a stay-at-home mom of three), but now that everyone’s in school, I write all day long.

   7 - How did you feel when you first realized that this story you had written would soon be read by thousands of people and how do you feel now, years later, before your next book will be released? Did the feeling change or is it still the same?
   You know, I still don’t think it’s quite sunk in for me. Which sounds silly after six years, I know, but I went for so many years (nine, to be exact) of nobody wanting to read my novels, it still feels strange that anyone is reading them. So it’s always the same feeling of surrealism mixed with excitement mixed with terror and disbelief. I like that mix—I think it keeps me humble.

   8 – What do you think about the cover for Shade Me?
It is so gorgeous! I love the rainbow of colors streaming down her face, and how they pop out against the black and white photo. I don’t know if I’ve ever really seen anything quite like it. I couldn’t have asked for a better cover, and I can’t wait to see the covers of the future Nikki Kill books.

   9 – If Shade Me were to be made into a movie or TV series, who would be your dream cast, if you have one, for Nikki?
   Nina Dobrev would absolutely slay the role of Nikki Kill!

   10 – What advice could you give aspiring authors?
   I have three pieces of advice for aspiring authors.
   1) Read. All the time. Never skip a day, if you can help it. Read, read, read. This will help you not only understand what good and bad writing looks like, and what’s trending, but will also help you narrow down what you want to write.
   2) Write. All the time. Keep journals and fill them with story ideas, poetry, snippets of essays or short stories, pieces of dialogue, character sketches, whatever comes to your mind. It’s like building a muscle or perfecting a free throw—the more you practice, the better you will get.
   3) Believe in yourself. This is the hardest, and most important, part of becoming a writer. You will get lots of rejections. You will get bad reviews. You will get emails from readers pointing out your flaws. You have to be able to withstand the really low moments by telling yourself that you can do this. Sometimes, the difference between a published writer and an unpublished one isn’t necessarily that the published writer was better at writing…but has just been better at believing in herself.

   11 – If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
   Invisibility – I’m almost off-the-charts introverted and can be pretty shy. I would wear a cape made out of book pages and hide out in my super secret lair (the library) and call myself Introvertia! My arch nemesis? Super Pushy Party Planning Guy. Ha ha ha.

About the Author

   Two-time winner of the Erma Bombeck Global Humor Award (2005 & 2006), Jennifer's weekly humor column appeared in The Kansas City Star for over four years, until she gave it up to be a full-time young adult novelist.
   Jennifer's debut novel, HATE LIST (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2009) received three starred reviews and was selected as an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a VOYA "Perfect Ten," and a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year. HATE LIST also won the Michigan Library Association's Thumbs Up! Award, the Louisiana Teen Readers Choice award, the 2012 Oklahoma Sequoyah Book Award, was an honorable mention for the 2011 Arkansas Teen Book Award, is a YALSA 2012 Popular Paperback, received spots on the Texas Library Association's Taysha's high school reading list as well as the Missouri Library Association's Missouri Gateway Awards list, and has been chosen to represent the state of Missouri in the 2012 National Book Festival in Washington, DC. Jennifer's second novel, BITTER END, (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2011) received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and VOYA and is listed on the YALSA 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults list and is a 2012 Taysha's high school reading list pick as well.
   Jennifer writes and lives in the Kansas City, Missouri area, with her husband and three children.

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