I am thrilled to welcome Jesse Andrews to Bookbabblers today. Jesse has answered a few questions for us…
Please tell us a little about yourself
I’ve always written. My first young-adult readership consisted of my sister Eve. She was 4 and I was 10. I taught her to read first with
refrigerator magnets and eventually with my first literary output: stapled crayoned little pamphlets, mostly about foxes and raccoons. This
enterprise probably sounds more generous and pure than it actually was. I would estimate it was 60% my need to have a credulous 4-year-old witness
to the fox- and raccoon-populated world which I had invented, and of which therefore I was the capricious and absolute God; 38% the naked,
slavish pursuit of parental approval; and mayyyyybe 2% the impulse to give the gift of reading to another human being. And sure, that last part
felt pretty good. But nowhere near as good as the other stuff. Also it backfired horribly when she started writing her own little books, and
they were way better than mine.
Please tell us about Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and your inspiration for the book
As a teenager, I didn’t have a Rachel, or any classmate who became seriously ill the way Rachel does. I just wanted to write something funny
about something really difficult, and funny in a way that managed not to be cheap or cruel. My grandfather was very sick at the time that I was
getting ready to write the book, so I was thinking a lot about how you never say the thing you wish you had said, or do the thing you wish you
had done, around someone who might not be around all that longer. Because you want it to be enough, and it never is. You want your last exchanges,
your last moments with someone, to somehow contain your entire relationship with them, and everything it could ever have been, and of
course it never will. So I knew if I could make something funny about that, it would probably be something worth writing. That or I would be an
unspeakably terrible person. Or maybe both!
What are you working on now?
I’ve just finished the first draft of a second book about three teenagers. It’s called THE HATERS. They’re musicians who meet at jazz
camp and run away to have an authentic band-on-the-road experience. It’s about love and music and the insane quixotic desire to make a perfect
thing. The book comes out next year and I’m working on the script for a film version as well.
What was your favourite childhood book?
Different books for different phases of childhood. A.A. Milne and Beatrix Potter. The Phantom Tollbooth. The BFG and James and the Giant Peach.
Redwall. The Foundation trilogy. Dave Barry’s early books. Getting Even and Without Feathers. Scoop.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Stay with it. Don’t expect to get anything right the first time. It’s fine if you don’t. It’s kind of better that way. Take your time shaping
it and listening to how it sounds. Take feedback seriously even if you end up not accepting any of it. Accept that you may have a book or two to
get out of your system before you write anything good. And don’t get lazy and try to write someone else’s thing. Write your thing. Write the thing
that won’t exist unless you put it into the world. That’s sort of the whole point.