Jandy Nelson received a BA from Cornell, an MFA from Brown in poetry, and another MFA from Vermont College in writing for children and young adults. For the past twelve years, she's been a literary agent with Manus & Associates Literary Agency, and has also taught and lectured on creative writing. Today, Jandy lives in San Francisco. Her poetry has been published in various literary journals, but The Sky Is Everywhere is her first novel.
Visit her website at www.jandynelson.com.
If you are interested in having Jandy make an appearance at your school, library, or conference, please use the online request form or email the Author Appearance Coordinator at authorvisits[at]us.penguingroup.com with possible dates, your organization, location, details about the day, and your contact information.
A Note from Jandy Nelson:
Hi librarians and teachers!
When I was a sophomore in high school, the poet David Meltzer came to town and gave a reading at a local college. He read a poem called The Red Shoes and that was it for me. This poem was all verb: explosive, out of control, irreverent—the words ricocheted around the room willy-nilly, speeding my heart, making my palms sweat. I didn't know a poem could do that, didn't know that writers are actually detonating language, detonating the spirit. At that point, I'd been a voracious reader and already dreamed of being a writer, but hearing him read that poem that night made it seem not only possible, but imperative, urgent even. So I guess, for me, visiting schools and libraries, reading my work and the works of others, talking about writing and literature and art to high school students, to anyone who will listen, is also imperative. If I can ever, in my own way, move a student, move anyone, even a smidgeon as much as he moved me that night, as so many writers have moved me now over the years, I will be so happy!
Author Appearance Q&A with Jandy Nelson:
What can a school, library, or conference expect when you are making an appearance? What might you do differently with audiences of varying sizes, ages, and interests?
They can expect passion! I'm mad for writing and literature and I try to bring that to my talks. As a literary agent for the last thirteen years, I've given presentations and have taught workshops at conferences all across the country on a myriad of topics having to do with writing craft as well as the publishing industry. I've taught creative writing (poetry) at Brown University and drama at the high school level, so I'm comfortable with small and large groups, workshops and lectures, high school students and adults. I can tailor my talks to the interests and needs of a group and will always do my best to make the experience inspiring and engaging.
I'm very into demystifying creative writing for teens, offering exercises that open up the channels to self expression, reading quotes by writers that make the blood dance, having an exchange that is buoyant and interactive. I think it's revelatory when students realize that everything they need to write a poem or story is already inside them, they just have to get it down. So, for smaller groups, it might be great to delve into craft in a fun hands-on way, perhaps do a poetry writing workshop, and for larger groups, it might be more appropriate to give a mini-talk about my personal road to becoming a writer, the ups and downs, ins and outs of the writing life, always full of incredible quotes and excerpts by other writers, then give a reading and have a Q&A and signing where I can talk individually to students who may want to make a connection.
There are so many possibilities!
What makes your author appearances unique?
I think I have a unique perspective in that I'm a young adult novelist, who also writes poetry for adults, works in the publishing industry, and has spent a fair bit of time in graduate school studying poetry and children's and young adult literature. So I think I can talk about many different aspects of the writing life from varying perspectives.
More importantly though, I can bring a lot of excitement about writing and literature to an audience or classroomat least I hope so! Like most writers and avid readers, I'm a bit of a literary zealotI believe, corny as it sounds, that the world is changed in miraculous ways, one word, one poem, one story at a time.
Do you enjoy making appearances for adult audiences? What do you do when presenting to adults?
I do enjoy it very much. I have lots of experience with adult audiences interested in writing or publishing. I give lectures on many aspects of the publishing industry (how to find an agent, pitch a project, deal with rejection, etc.) and also on many facets of the writing life, both on the nuts and bolts of craft as well as the larger issues and challenges of being a writer. I think many of these presentations could be tailored to groups of librarians, teachers, and all sorts of adult readers.
What can schools and libraries do to ensure a successful appearance?
I think it's important they build excitement beforehand and make sure those attending have read my book ahead of time so they come interested and with questions. If it's in a high school, it would be great if the book could be assigned and discussed before the event.
Do you enjoy traveling to other parts of the country for appearances?
Yes, very much.
Do you ever make appearances at more than one school in an area? Could schools and libraries from one area join together to bring you to their institution?
Yes, absolutely, that seems like the perfect way to do it, to get as much as possible out of a trip.
What do you hope your audience will come away with from your presentation?
My hope is that they come away inspired, ready to grab a pen and scribble their heart out, or grab a book and dive in headfirst.
What was your favorite part of the process in writing The Sky Is Everywhere? Any last thoughts?
Despite the subject matter, writing The Sky Is Everywhere was the most joyful experience of my life. This amazed mehow absolutely ecstatic writing can be. I've heard I'm in it for it though, that as glorious as writing first novels are, second novels are torturous. We'll see! I'll end here with my favorite quote by Ray Bradbury that really says everything I feel about writing and reading and libraries and all the amazing books inside them.
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.
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