7 Quick Fire Questions, 3 Expert Tips with Jennifer Gooch Hummer
After reading this article I’m sure you’ll agree with me: Jennifer Gooch Hummer seems to have it all. She’s funny, smart, beautiful AND she can write a damn fine book. I am *DELIGHTED* to bring you her 7 quick-fire questions, and 3 expert tips – and for all you YA writers out there I think you’ll find them useful.
True story: I nearly spat out a mouthful of water and destroyed my computer while reading Jennifer’s answer to number 3. Funny stuff!
Here’s a little more about Jennifer’s young adult debut, Girl Unmoored, which will be published on March 6th:
This sharp, quick-witted novel follows Apron, a young woman who has come unmoored by a sea of family drama and break-ups. But when she meets Mike, she’s met her mooring. Although Mike and his cantankerous boyfriend, Chad, don’t know what to do with her at first—Apron just seems to keep showing up, usually with a fat lip—they eventually offer her a job in their flower store. And then it’s smooth sailing for Apron, until she uncovers Chad’s secret. Suddenly Apron is forced to leave behind the safe harbor of childhood and navigate the stormy seas of a young adult. She knows what her real job is now, and it has nothing to do with flowers.
7 Quick Fire Questions
1. High heels or flats?
High heels. Every minute of every day. I have arches shaped like The Duomo, so I can’t wear flats for long periods of time. I even have high heel flip-flops. Wish I could wear those Tory Burch flats though.
2. Best movie of 2011?
“Beginners.” Such a quirky, clever film. Christopher Plummer and Ewan McGregor are both compelling and vibrant. The graphic art projects/scenes are just about the best thing ever.
3. Your writing inspiration?
When I was seven, I was brushing my teeth one day, trying not to notice my freckles, when suddenly the girl in mirror started talking. “Guess what? You’re going to be a writer.” This was not good news. Writers were not famous, not pretty, and they were old. I spit out my toothpaste. “Nope,” I said. But the girl in the mirror smirked. “And it’s not going to happen until you’re like, forty.” I was crestfallen. I had much bigger plans, like becoming a professional Avon Lady. I told that little girl she was wrong, but by fourth grade, I knew she was right. She’s been my inspiration ever since.
4. Your idea of a perfect meal?
First you have to fly to France. Then you have to buy a warm baguette, the softest, stinkiest cheese you can find, and a bottle of red wine. Oh, and a wine opener.
5. Morning Bird or Night Owl?
I’m up at 4:55 am to swim on an adult (Masters) swim team. At 7 am, still soaking wet, I sprint to the car to call my youngest daughter. I pay her two dollars a day to wake her teenage sisters up before I get home. It’s a dangerous job, but someone’s gotta’ do it. Trumpets have been employed. I didn’t tell my husband about this for a long time (he travels often and if he’s home he leaves even earlier than I do to go cycling). But someone squealed on us, so now he rolls his eyes at me. “Two dollars? What ever happened to the quarter?” But hey, I say, money talks.
6. Place you most want to travel?
Norway. My grandmother, Tigger, who had red hair and bounced a lot, was Norwegian. My dad has one of the more bizarre family histories on the planet and someday I’m going to get to the bottom of it, and then write about it.
7. If you won $100 today, what would you spend it on?
A stack of two-dollar bills. I hoard two-dollar bills. I’m pretty sure they’ll stop printing them someday, and then they’ll be worth, like, three dollars. I’ll be rich. In the meantime, they’re perfect for leaving tips. And then there’s that two dollars I have to pay my daughter every morning…
Expert Tips “3 Tips on Writing a Younger Character”
Writers will always tell you to read as much as you can. And it’s true. But just as important, I think, is to listen. Real dialogue (inner and outer) is not spoken the way we tend to write it. It’s staccato, incorrect, and really quite a mess. Stepping back and really listening to what kids and teens are saying, is paramount for creating a younger character.
2. Ask questions.
My children have started to warn their friends about me. “Okay. My mom can pick us up, but she’s going to ask you, like, a million questions on the way home. Sorry.” And I do. The first line of questioning will go something like this: What do your parents do? What do you like to do in school? Where’d you get those shoes? Yes, I’m relentless, but I’m also gathering information for my craft. A YA author’s job is to interrogate, I mean interview, younger generations. Otherwise how can we know the minds of our protagonists? This is my argument when my children start to balk. Well, this and; if you don’t want to hoof it all the way home, you better start talking. The latter usually works a little better.
3. Think like a dog.
My dog stares at me all day. And when she’s not staring, she’s following. Closely. Six inches away closely. It can be dangerous when carrying a load of laundry up and down stairs. Of course I have no idea what she is thinking, but I imagine there’s something going on in there, so I try to see the world through her eyes. And it’s usually a little scary. Being twelve inches tall means that everything she sees is either gigantic or threatening. I think this is the same vantage point for most kids. Growing up is scary, and to create a convincing character, it’s important to incorporate a little of that fear. It doesn’t have to be a conscious over-the-top vampire-ish fear, it can come out as sarcasm, or sadness, or over-confidence. But for me, a believable and enchanting younger character has to have at least a little apprehension about becoming an adult. Thinking like a dog reminds me to see the world from a different vantage point. I should have chosen a taller dog, now that I think about it.
Jennifer Gooch Hummer has worked as a script analyst for various talent agencies and major film studios. Her short stories have been published in Miranda Magazine, Our Stories, Glimmertrain and Fish. She has continued graduate studies in the Writer’s Program at UCLA, where she was awarded the Kirkwood Prize in fiction. Currently, Jennifer lives in Southern California and Maine with her husband and their three daughters.
Find out more about Jennifer!
Author Website: www.jennifergoochhummer.com
Like her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jennifer-Gooch-Hummer/203334603053756
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