Harmony Book Reviews

Interview: Jennifer E. Smith

Posted on: March 28, 2008

I’m very happy to say that I have an interview with Jennifer E. Smith, who wrote The Comeback Season, which was recently released. I absolutely adored it and if you haven’t already, you should check out my review. Enjoy!

So what does it feel like to be a published Young Adult author?

It’s very exciting. I’ve wanted this for as long as I can remember, so it’s a lot of fun now that it’s finally happened. I actually work in publishing, so I see people go through this process all the time, and to many authors – particularly the ones who have written a lot of books – this whole process becomes sort of routine. I can understand that, of course, but from where I’m sitting now, I can’t imagine ever not wanting to jump for joy when you see a finished copy of your own book!

When did you first know you wanted to be an author? When did you first begin writing?

I won a short story contest in fourth grade, and I feel like that’s when the idea was first put into my head. In seventh and eighth grade, I wrote my first “book” – a 200 page story about a girl and a racehorse that I’m sure I thought was brilliant at the time. In high school, I had a couple of very encouraging teachers, and I continued writing through college, but even though I always secretly hoped to be a published author, I don’t think I ever really believed it would actually happen. It seemed to me a lot like winning the lottery. (It still does, in fact!)

What was your road to publication like?

It was easy in some ways, and very difficult in others. I wrote lots of stuff before this that will probably never see the light of day, and I experienced my fair share of rejection, which I actually think is a very important part of the process. So overall, I wouldn’t say it’s been completely smooth sailing. But with this book, something just clicked. My editor bought it after reading the first sixty pages, and the whole thing only took about six months to write. It sounds corny, but I really believe that if you just keep at it, things work themselves out in the end.

How did you come up with the idea for The Comeback Season?

It really came to me in pieces. I guess I got the initial inspiration one night while watching the Cubs lose for what felt like the millionth time. I was flipping back and forth between the game and the movie “Fever Pitch”, which was on another channel, and I got to thinking about how Cubs fans have an equally interesting (albeit depressing) history, and how they deserve to have their story told too, and then the image of Ryan sitting on the train on her way down to the ballpark just sort of popped into my head. I didn’t know what would happen at the game, or that she’d meet Nick, or anything else that followed. But I somehow knew her whole history, and so I just sort of went along for the ride with her, and figured out the rest from there.

How is the published copy different from the first draft you wrote?

It actually didn’t change as much as I thought it would. There are entire scenes that are hardly different from when I first sat down to write them. The biggest difference is the ending – I won’t say too much, because I don’t want to give it away, but I flip-flopped a lot on how Nick’s story would come out in the end, and I wrote three different endings before deciding on this one.

Who is your favorite character in The Comeback Season? Which one are you most like?

I think the answer to both those questions would be Ryan. We’re not completely alike – she’s had a much more difficult time of things than I ever did – but her personality is a lot like mine was at that age. She’s a little bit shy, somewhat hesitant, and very introspective. She’s probably too impatient for her own good, especially with her family, and she’s not the least bit interested in facts, but she’s got a lot of heart and is basically a good egg. I had a lot of fun writing her.

For those of us who know nothing about the Cubs (me included), is everything included in your book about how they never won the World Series and the goat story, along with the other stuff, true?

Yes, all true! It’s hard to believe, I know. This year will be the 100th season since they last won a World Series. And though some people would argue that the curse doesn’t actually exist, the goat most certainly did, and I sort of feel like he’s been mocking us ever since!

What are some of your favorite authors?

I actually don’t read as many YA books as I’d like to, mostly because I spend a lot of time reading and editing other types of books for work. I do love John Green and Meg Rosoff, and also some of the more classic books by authors like Katherine Patterson and Wilson Rawlings. And I absolutely adore J.K. Rowling. I mean, who doesn’t?

What can your fans look forward to from you in the future?

I’m working on another YA book called You Are Here, about a boy and a girl who come from different backgrounds and seem like complete opposites, but who get thrown together on a sort of haphazard road trip, and find out they’re a lot more similar than they thought. It’ll be out in Summer 2009.

Do you have any advice for your teen fans?

Read a lot. Then write a lot. Then read some more. It might sound really obvious, but you’d be amazed how much you can learn about writing by reading books you admire. And then the only way to figure out whether you can write one yourself is by sitting down and actually attempting to do it!

Thanks so much!

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3 Responses to "Interview: Jennifer E. Smith"

Well… i must say this interveiw fell short of a dyslexic 5 year old. I looked like a ripoff of The Compulsive Readers Book of the month. I think this reivew could have been a great chance for you to interveiw such a good author. Well. in my humble opinion you should persue a more realistic goal for one of you tinny intilect.

I’m sorry you feel that way but I’ve yet to figure out why you’d waste your time writing that if it’s so horrible.

I had this contest up long before I knew TCR’s BOM was The Comeback Season. I’m sure that if you look around you’ll find other interviews and reviews of TCS.

[…] Comment! I just received this email from the wonderful Jennifer E. Smith who’s sophmore novel, You Are Here, will be released May 19. I haven’t read it yet but I *adored* her first novel. (You can read my review here and my interview with Jennifer here. […]

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