On what 'happy' means for Jennifer E. Smith:
When asked what Jenn's happy looks like (as in her book, This is What Happy Looks Like) she answered: "Being in the Philippines with all of you." I remember she smiled so sweetly after writing this that we couldn't help by collectively say, awwwwww! Such a sweetheart! She said that Ellie's happy in the beginning of the book is very similar to hers. i.e. thunderstorms (did I hear this one right?!?! Damn audio), ice cream on a hot day.
Where did the world of Starters come from?
It was inspired by a real life experience. Lissa went to Costco once to get a flu shot. However, it appeared there weren't enough vaccines for everyone so the government decided that only the very young and the very old would get the vaccine because they're the most vulnerable members in the society. Lissa thought, "Wait a minute, if this is supposed to be a killer disease, then all you have left standing would be the very young and the very old. What kind of world would that be?"
Have they ever gotten a recommendation from their editor that they didn't like?
Jenn jokingly said, "Editors are the worst!" when asked if they've ever been told by an editor to remove a part they particularly loved. She then added that she's an editor too so she actually knows what it's like being on both sides of the process. She said that that definitely happens, that she listens to what editors say because they have outside perspective. On the other hand though, she only takes in about 75 to 80 percent of recommendations because ultimately, a book is still an author's work. She later adds that one of the most quoted lines in her books was one of the things her editor wanted to cut out but she insisted it stayed. What line? This:
“It's not the changes that will break your heart; it's that tug of familiarity.”
Lissa asked the group if there were any fiction writers and a few raised their hands. She told them, "Your editor will give you notes and the first time you get 'em, they stink." It's inevitable, apparently. The key is to set them aside for a day or a week because when you come back to them, you'll see them more clearly. Then you can use them to make your story better. She shared that Starters didn't originally have a cliffhanger in the first draft but her editor asked for it. And we have her editor to thank for a dang cliffhanger!!! (kidding)
It's Lissa not Lisa.
Here's an audio so you could hear how to correctly say her name. It's Lis-sah and not Lee-sah.
Did Lissa already know what would happen in the sequel to Starters, Enders? And did she really plan it as a duology?
The simple answer to the second question is: NO! At the time, she thought of making it a trilogy because she was reading The Hunger Games then. But her publisher said maybe it'd be best to make a duology instead because there were already lots of trilogies nowadays and readers were getting tired (as a reader, I agree). As for Enders' plot, she already knew what was coming because there was a twist in Starters.
How does Jenn balance writing books and working as an editor?
"Not very well, no." Jenn jokes. She doesn't edit YA so it's a great feeling being in a different world of publishing. She doesn't want to give it up because it's a genuine day job where she gets to help shape stories and characters. It helps that she has a flexible schedule so she only has to come to the office once or twice a week, which gives her time to attend book signings like the one in Manila (yay!). She's not sure if she'll be able to do both for a long, long time but for now and a couple of years, it's a joy that she's able to do both.
If Lissa was in her own book, would she want to rent a body or a donor? And who's body would she rent?
Obviously, she'd rent a body because if she's a donor, she'll just be asleep the whole time! ("Although the money would be nice...") She'd want to rent Oprah Winfrey's body because she. Knows. Everybody! And she can do whatever she wants. Yep, totally agree with Lissa. I'd want to be a queen too.
Jennifer E. Smith's books have open endings. Is that how she really plans them?
"Yes. I don't really mean to torture everybody." Jenn likes leaving the ending to interpretation for the readers. She thinks of it as a litmus test to see if you're a glass half full or a glass half empty kind of person. She loves that her books end with dot dot dots instead of a period or an exclamation point. Whenever someone asks her about what happens to her characters after the story, she's optimistic that they're happy. So there's that.
How did Lissa write Starters, it being so complex and all?
She has an outline that she follows but then she starts writing organically at some point. Meaning, once her characters change, she'll have to adjust with them.
I'm giving away one SIGNED copy of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith and one SIGNED copy Starters by Lissa Price to TWO entrants residing in the Philippines. (If you're abroad and know someone who lives here and is willing to take your book for you, go right ahead!) I will notify the winner via email and Twitter/Facebook. The winner will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen.