Interview with author Jandy Nelson


Photo via Jandy Nelson under Creative Commons License

Jandy Nelson, author of “I’ll Give You the Sun” and “The Sky is Everywhere,” speaks at the Los Angeles Festival of Books.

Acacia Ramirez, Reporter

Thanks to today’s modern technology, on Oct. 15, Palatine High School students were able to FaceTime, for the first time ever, author Jandy Nelson.

A group of students who read “The Sky Is Everywhere” or “I’ll Give You the Sun,” along with their English teacher Amanda Lipnisky, received the opportunity to interact with the author. Nelson, the author of the two books, has captivated the attention of young readers who love fiction. This moment served to meet the author more closely, learn from her technique, and understand her motivations on becoming a critically acclaimed writer.

Nelson’s book “The Sky is Everywhere” shows that sometimes you never know what you have until its gone. That is what the 17-year-old protagonist Lennie Walker thought when her sister Bailey died abruptly. She was so used to living in her shadow that now she has no clue who she is or how to live her life.

She desperately finds ways to cope with her grief and it all points to one thing: music. But although she has a special relationship with music, she has never had a relationship with a boy. Now she finds herself juggling two of them; one who understands her grief and one who comforts her through the sound of music.

“The Sky Is Everywhere” is an electrifying book that teaches the power of strength and finding your own voice. I definitely related to Lennie and how she felt exposed when she had to step out from behind her sister’s shadow. But I feel like that day will come for all of us. It may not be today, but someday. It’s not about who you were, it’s about who you are now and how you can make things better for the future.

I am truly grateful that Nelson takes the time to write books that make you look at life a little bit differently. I believe that we should all be able to experience something like this. And what better way than through the power of words.

It is difficult to describe in words such a wonderful experience it was to speak with Nelson. It is not everyday that you get the opportunity to FaceTime a best selling author.

Keep writing and don’t look back. Never erase anything just because you think its not important, because it is. Every single thing you write, whether it’s good or bad, will always help you become a better writer

— Jandy Nelson

Talking to her was like talking to someone you have known for a long time. I discovered new and interesting things about her that I had not known before. Her love for fine arts has influenced her to someday go back to school and study art history and religion. She is a lover of poetry, music, solitude, geekiness,and love itself.

I had the opportunity to ask her some questions about herself and writing in general.

Question: Who are some of your favorite poets?
Answer: Pablo Neruda, Anne Carson, Ilya Kaminsky, John Berryman, C.D. Wright, and Dr. Seuss.

Question: What are your favorite books?
Answer: “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, “To the Lighthouse” by Virginia Woolf, “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy, and “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston.

Question: What is your favorite quote?
Answer: She has many favorite quotes but here is one in particular that I love: “To sum it all up, if you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must write dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfume and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish for you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories—science fiction or otherwise. Which means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.” –Ray Bradbury

Question: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Answer: “Keep writing and don’t look back. Never erase anything just because you think its not important, because it is. Every single thing you write, whether it’s good or bad, will always help you become a better writer.”