Meet the Writers – Jay Asher



it's meet the writers from the barnes & noble studio on barnesandnoble.com i'm steve Bertrand J Asher's route has been an unusual when he set out to write books for young children and met with not so much success that's not unusual but then he did find success with 13 reasons why that was relatively brief and then what followed was a phenomenon really Jay Asher joins us now welcome thank you for having me tell me about the path of this book because it it made great success went away and then came back gangbusters yeah it's been pretty amazing the book originally came out October of 2007 and it was about six months after that that it finally hit the bestseller list at number 10 and then fell off and they would occasionally but back on then off and then now it's been on there for I think thirty nine weeks and it just keeps going and what fueled the return there's we've been talking about that a lot try to figure that out I know the book has definitely been a word-of-mouth book you know it had kind of the traditional publisher stuff at the very beginning going to different conventions and things and then I've been doing a lot of school visits and then from there it was teens telling other teens about it was definitely a book teens were enjoying and then telling the friends you have to read this and it just keeps growing from there and that's a sign of something good I mean when it's come for less you know marketing than from word-of-mouth that makes me feel great since the teens are the ones that I wrote for it right when when I read other people describing this book they say it's about a young girl who commits suicide and then sends tapes out to different people when I read your descriptions of the book you say it's about a young boy who receives a tape yeah and that seems to be a pretty consistent difference explain that for me yeah well when I first started writing the book I talked about it's about a girl who sends these tapes and when I would say the word suicide and immediately everybody thought they knew exactly what the book was about so I started rephrasing it to about this boy that gets these tapes and on it's the girl who committed suicide two weeks earlier and if he received the receive these he's one of the people mentioned on the tapes as one of her reasons why so once I get into more of this suspense and airiness quality then people are more interested in so is this story his or is it her in the end I think it's his story it's about things that happened to her but everything she says is filtered through him and he's the one that at the end of the book has a little change this boy's name is clay gent yes which is modeled after you a little bit a little bit in high school I was definitely a shy person clays on his way to becoming valedictorian in that way were nothing alike but I was somebody who if I saw people getting picked on or whatever and I could have said something I didn't it wasn't my business and I stepped back and I'm not like that noun but there are still times in high school where I can look back and think you know I'm still kicking myself oh you're not standing like I've said something yes it's interesting to me though if clay is a bit of you Hannah probably is not so much but you said that Hannah was easier to write than Clay's character Hannah's character came to me just complete and her voice and everything which scared me because she's female and so when I first started writing it I had so my female friends read it thinking this is too easy it it must sound like a guy writing from a female point of view and they all said I don't know what's going on with you but you sound like a female in this fart it's working yeah the idea to write about suicide came after a suicide attempt with someone close to you yeah a close relative of mine when she was the same age as Hannah a junior in high school attempted suicide survived was that recent to the writing or was it sometime in the past that was nine years before I started the book okay and I had met no intention of writing books routines writing anything serious everything was funny and for younger children and then one day this idea came to me and I felt I understood somebody like Hannah how somebody could become like Hannah enough by talking to my relative that I felt comfortable writing it was something you talked openly with about her after yeah and that was one of the things she and and which Hannah does a lot in the book is well she would have dropped hints she would drop hints and used the fact that nobody was picking up on these hints as confirmation that nobody cares what did she think of the book and what did she think of the succession she loves the book and I share a lot of the emails I get from teens who sometimes come straight out and say the book saved their life it made them see things in totally different way because they were suicidal or had attempted suicide in the past those emails are amazing to share with my relative because there's this near tragedy that has become this really positive thing these kids reach out to you mm-hmm that's a lot of responsibility it is it's very intensive how do you deal with it well usually what happens is they reach out to me after they read the book and they're very honest about things that have gone on in their life and they basically say when they read the book they start getting frustrated with Hannah and because she pushes people away as well as people had tried you know people I try to help her and she doesn't reach out to people that she could reach out to and they get mad at her for that but then they realized well that's exactly what they've been doing and how can they get mad at her now and so that's when they reach out to talk to me saying now I've opened up I'm seeing a therapist different things you make a point that that Hannah is not exonerated no which is what I think a lot I mean which is an important part of it yeah now when I tell other parents about this book and I know what you're gonna say what am I going to say they're very hesitant about yeah the first is like and I said you know I want my daughter to read this you got to have your kids and they look at me like yeah I don't think so yeah I tell them it's it you know I totally understand that and I had the same reaction when I came up the idea is that really something I want to talk about you know especially do I want to talk about honestly and because you specially writing for teens you don't wanna be preachy and if you're not preachy and just telling it how it is some people are afraid of that because you're not coming out and saying suicide is wrong even though people that read the book get that you know so I understand the hesitation and all I know I know my intention when writing it which was obviously a good intention but also hearing from teens and hearing how they're getting it you know most of the teens aren't suicidal but they read the book and they see how the small things can affect people differently than it might affect them and that's what 85 90 percent of people get out of the book that's what I like in the way it might be clay story a little bit and that he the others learned that what they say in their actions aren't always perceived in the way that they intend them to be right and another important role that clay plays is he at first starts out being just completely crushed and sad about what Hannah's telling him but at some point he starts getting frustrated with her and at her pointing out wait a second you could have gotten help right there but you didn't tell me but now it's used in schools it has been used in schools yeah I started in book clubs at libraries and schools a lot of times I would encourage them bring in a crisis hotline worker or a teen therapist and just become this really positive thing and now English teachers have started using it to teach literature but as well seeing that they can talk about some serious issues as well I want to talk a little bit about your career and path as a writer dropped out of college – right kind of yeah I was going to school to be an elementary school teacher and then a lot of the girls I was where I dated their moms or dads were teachers and I decided that sounds a lot harder than I thought right and so I was a senior in college everything planned out to be a teacher and I said I didn't want to do this and at that point by writing while nothing sold I started to win some awards and I said you know I'm going to step back for a little bit and pursue this and you your first writing was sillier younger children started with picture books and then moved to 4th and 5th grade and that's kind of where I was comfortable now there's a beautiful story about you then after a series of frustrations taking your wife out to dinner yes and preparing to drop the news on her yes tell me about that this occurred in January or February of 2007 the book sold in October and I was getting the book would have stood the following up yeah yeah so so just they were that you were in the Bleak days yes I was getting ready to finish it and I started to get terrified if this book doesn't sell because mostly how personal the story was for me I thought it would just crush me and I just didn't want to do that and I had spent at that point almost 12 years trying to get published and thinking you know I don't have a tracker so you're out to dinner route to dinner and I tell her I think at this point I'm gonna stop writing and maybe see if there's any other creative outlets that I'm not experiencing and she started crying and she said ever since I knew you your dream was to become a writer if you don't do this do I even know you anymore and my wife's right there crying so of course I said okay fine I'll give it one more shot with this book and it turned out to work out of this yeah and so what's next I have a contract right three more books for teens this I mean you're the success of this has probably changed what's next for you it actually yeah it has it has I started working on another teen book when they were getting ready to release this one and then I when this came out and I started hearing from teens and hearing how deeply it's been affecting them and it kind of did a number on me and the book I was working on at the time was more just kind of a high-school love story which it was a good idea but I just felt it was going to be a disappointment to those people who really connected with this book and while it's not all about pleasing anybody else you know I really wanted those people to really like this book turns out you become a teacher in a way I've started do a lot of workshops on suicide prevention where I'm a keynote speaker a lot of times which without a degree especially a medical degree or anything left people show up going why is this author talking what I do is I share a lot of the emails I get from teens saying we don't as a society to talk about this openly but they're talking about it and they need to know where they can go for help congratulations – it was nice to talk to you thank you – it's novelist Jay Asher I'm Steve Bertrand unmeet the writers from the Barnes & Noble studio on Viacom

23 thoughts on “Meet the Writers – Jay Asher

  1. Finding Comments So Old ….. None Of Them Had Expected That It Would One Of The Most popular show in the year 2017

  2. Did you think the Netflix series live up to your expectations if you watched it after reading it? I'd like to hear your thoughts and opinion. I loved them both!

  3. After I read What Light by Jay asher I couldn't stop thinking about it.😂 Everything reminded me of it and I got so sad because of What happened at the end. 😀

  4. I love this book, too. The book show us the situation that happens today. I sometimes see people with the same problems. Good job Jay:)

  5. I am still wondering did the movie come out because they book was beyond amazing and I still can't figure out if the movie came out.. please help lol and if it did come out then where can I watch it or find it?

  6. I loved the book, and I loved Clay.  His quips made me laugh.   I hope he doesn't become a lumberjack.  

  7. I read this book and now my mom and 4 of my friends want to read it also. It true a lot of teens suggest it to other teens

  8. jay! ur so different on tv than in person. i am excited to see you later this month! xox, ur neicie!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *