Jay Asher’s debut teen novel, Thirteen Reasons Why, spent two years on the New York Times bestsellers list. It has sold to over 30 foreign markets, and Universal Pictures bought the movie rights. His second novel, The Future of Us, was co-written with Carolyn Mackler and came out in November 2011. It has sold to 15 foreign markets, and Warner Bros. bought the movie rights. He lives with his wife and son in California. To learn more about his books, visit his website and blog.
Let the conversation begin!
What piece of advice would you give the younger you?
Before writing my latest book, I probably would’ve spent a lot of time thinking up an answer for this question. But now, I can honestly say that I wouldn’t give my younger self any advice. In my latest book, THE FUTURE OF US, two teens glimpse the future, which alters the present, and sends their lives down different paths. Since I like where my life’s ended up, I wouldn’t want to throw any pebbles into that pond. While giving my past self some advice would’ve saved me certain heartaches, it could’ve just created bigger problems.
When you have 30 minutes of free-time, how do you pass the time?
I go to bookstores. Whether I’m at home or on the road, if I have any downtime, you can usually find me wandering through bookshelves. It’s relaxing and inspiring.
The best part of waking up is?
Seeing my son. When he notices that I’m awake, it brings a huge smile to his face. There can’t possibly be a better reaction to starting my day than that.
If you were reincarnated as an ice cream flavor, what would it be?
Chubby Hubby, by my good friends Ben and Jerry. If you are what you eat, this is the ice cream I’d become.
What was the last movie or book that made you angry? Explain.
I’ve never been angry at a book or movie. When I hear people say they threw a book across the room or stormed out of a theater, I think, “Wow. Someone needs to up their dosage.” When people have extreme reactions to fiction (positive and negative), I think it says more about that person than whatever they were reading or watching. And the fact that I don’t have such extreme reactions may say something about me.
Ever written a book that never got published? Ever think you’ll give it a second chance?
I’ve never written any YA novels that didn’t get published, but I’ve written plenty of stories for younger audiences that went nowhere. There is one humorous middle-grade novel that I would love to get published. I’ve actually been brainstorming it a lot recently, so hopefully you’ll see it in print in the near future.
When was the last time you were nervous?
The last time I had to speak in front of an audience. I’ve given hundreds of speeches by now, and I’ve enjoyed every one. But I still get extremely nervous right before. Extremely! Usually, it’s while watching people come into the room to take their seats. Sometimes I’ll be talking to someone as the room begins to fill, and they’ll say, “Well, I should probably leave you alone now.” And I’ll say, “Oh, no, it’s fine.” What I really mean is, “Please keep talking to me! It’s giving me something to focus on!” But once I begin speaking, I have so much fun that the nerves completely disappear.
Ever had something happen that you thought was bad, but it turned out to be for the best?
Every time a manuscript was rejected, it was for the best. And I had twelve years of manuscripts being rejected before I finally sold a book, but I’m now thankful for all those rejections. The stories weren’t ready, and I’m glad Thirteen Reasons Why was my intro to the publishing world.
What’s your favorite outdoor activity?
Taking my son to the park. Whether he wants me to push him on a swing, take him down the slide, splash in puddles, or just walk through the trees, it’s exactly what I want to be doing in that moment.
Harold has him in a purple jail somewhere. (This question inspired this blog post).