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Final Friday Interview: Jennifer Archer

Swinging by today is the lovely Jennifer Archer, author of the upcoming Through Her Eyes! She's written for adults before, but Through Her Eyes is her debut YA, and if you ask me, it sounds bloody fantastic.

Sixteen-year-old Tansy Piper moves with her grandfather and her mother, a horror writer, to the setting of her mother's next book--a secluded house outside of a tiny, desolate West Texas town. Lonely and upset over the move, Tansy escapes into her photography and the dark, seductive poems she finds hidden in the cellar, both of which lure her into the mind and world of a mysterious, troubled young man who died sixty years earlier.

Read more to find out a bit more about the book, about British people, and what you books you should read next!

Nicole: Welcome to WORD, Jennifer! Now, the main character in Through Her Eyes is named Tansy. Where did that name come from?
Jennifer Archer: Before I sold my first book many years ago, I was working on a story with a main character who was a pretty, bright girl, but who also happened to be poison – a danger to anyone who spent too much time around her. I named her ‘Tansy’ because tansy is a flower that has those same attributes – it’s pretty, bright yellow, and toxic if ingested in large doses. Besides that, I just liked the sound of “Tansy” as a name! I never did finish that book, but the name stuck in my mind, and when the idea for Through Her Eyes came to me, I decided to use it. Tansy Piper doesn’t completely fit the description of the flower – she is definitely pretty and bright, but she has a good heart and good intentions. She isn’t the least bit toxic!

N: Through Her Eyes is your debut YA novel. You've written adult fiction before, though. Was there a different writing process?
JA: I actually don’t find the process to be substantially different. Writing a good story – whether it be for teens or adults – involves plotting, characterization, scene building, conflict, motivation and so much more. The important thing as a writer, I think, is to respect your audience. When I write for the YA audience, I don’t “write down” to them because they’re typically younger. Young people are savvy, and the issues and problems they deal with today run the gamut from simple to serious.

N: Exactly! Do you have a favorite scene or character in Through Her Eyes?
JA: I feel the same way about all of the characters in the book as I do my children – I love every one of them, warts and all! If I had to choose a favorite scene or scenes in the book, I suppose I’d say the ones that take place with Henry. I loved the eeriness of his world, and it was really interesting to spend time with such a tortured character and probe his mind and motivations. Henry has so many different and conflicting aspects to his personality. I found myself as drawn to him as Tansy was, in spite of the danger he represents.

N: A whole slew of movies based off books have been released recently. If Through Her Eyes was turned into a movie, who would you cast?
JA: Great question. Wow, it’s fun to think about Through Her Eyes being made into a movie! In my humble opinion, it would make a great one. Hmmm. Let’s see . . .

I think Rooney Mara would make a great Tansy! She starred in the uber creepy remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street that came out last year, and had a small part in The Social Network. She also won the leading role of Lisbeth Salander in the movie version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Rooney is older than Tansy, but has a young enough appearance to pull off the role. I think she looks like Tansy--savvy, intelligent, artsy. And she'd look awesome in men’s hats, which Tansy is quite fond of wearing!

I don’t even have to think twice about who to cast as thirteen-year-old Bethyl Ann; Abigail Breslin is perfect! She’s cute and quirky and so unbelievably talented. Her adorable spunkiness reminds me of Bethyl Ann, and she amazed me in Little Miss Sunshine.

I think the same actor should play Henry & Tate, just vary his hair and clothing to make him look a bit different in each role. How about that yummy actor that played in Percy and The Lightning Thief, Logan Lerman? He’s such a hottie, and he has crystal blue eyes like Tate's.

Mia Wasikowska is my pick for Isabel. She played Alice in the Tim Burton adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. Mia’s clean, natural beauty makes me think of Bell.

N: And Jane in the new Jane Eyre, which I can't wait to see. What do you think of the cover of Through Her Eyes?
JA: I absolutely love, love, love it! The cover really captures the mood and theme of the book. I couldn’t stop staring at it for days after my editor sent me the jpeg. I even made it my screensaver on my laptop!

N: Plaid, striped, or polka dot?
JA: If we’re talking dresses, polka dot; there’s something so happy about them. If we’re talking boxers, plaid. And that’s all I’m going to say about that!

N: THE BRITISH ARE COMING. What do you do?
JA: Run to the coffee shop to buy scones, then go home and brew a pot of tea.

N: What can we look forward to reading next after we all devour Through Her Eyes? Both from you and your recommendations.
JA: My next release is another YA novel called The Shadow Girl. I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that it’s another eerie story that is possibly even more emotional than Through Her Eyes. And it has a few twists that even surprised me! Lily, the story’s protagonist, is an unusual girl with some very unique gifts.

As for book suggestions, I’m a bit behind in my reading so my recommendations aren’t brand new. I recently finished Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me, which won the 2010 John Newbery Medal. I can’t say enough good things about this wonderful book. The story is suspenseful with a touch of the supernatural, and it’s beautifully written. It’s also funny and poignant and very smart. I also love that it cleverly plays off of one of my all-time favorite books A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. The main character is young – a 6th grade student, I believe – but readers of all ages will love this novel! I also really enjoyed Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall. It is such a unique storyline and the characters are completely realistic. I especially liked that the protagonist is extremely flawed and is almost completely unsympathetic at the beginning of the book. Her transformation into someone we understand and care about is handled deftly and believably.

Thanks for having me here, Nicole! You’ve asked some great questions, and I really enjoyed talking to you and your readers. I hope everyone will watch for Through Her Eyes in April. In the meantime, I invite you to stop by my website to see the book trailer, and my blog. Happy reading!

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Final Friday Interview: Jennifer Archer + interview