A Talk With Jennifer Archer
Author of Through Her Eyes
1) What inspired you to write your first young adult novel, Through Her Eyes?
I was substitute teaching one day and I saw a copy of the classic novel A WRINKLE IN TIME in the classroom. During a break, I picked it up and started reading. I had loved the book when I read it in middle school and I was surprised by how much the story still intrigued me as an adult. At the time, I had written novels for adults, but I began thinking I'd like to write a novel for a younger audience. I talked to my agent about it, and she said she thought I had the "voice" to write young adult fiction. I awoke the next morning with the character of Tansy whispering in my ear and the bare bones plot of the storyline on my mind.
2) In Through Her Eyes, the main character Tansy is constantly moving around with her mother, who is a popular author. Did you draw on your own experiences of moving many times as a child to write about Tansy’s own moves?
I did draw somewhat from my own experiences. Moving is never easy when you're growing up, but it is especially tough in high school. Like Tansy, I moved when I was sixteen and I found it difficult to adjust in a new high school and to make new friends. I also made it all the more difficult on myself by becoming a little closed off around people, as Tansy does in the book!
3) You realized that you wanted to be a writer at a young age, but it was not until later that you really pursued your passion for writing. What prompted you to follow your dreams?
I set aside my dream of becoming a writer because I didn't know how to pursue it. I didn't know any writers and I had no idea that any lived nearby who might offer me guidance. Then I found out that a creative writing class was being taught by a published novelist at the community college in my city. The class was only one night a week, so I decided to sign up for it. After the first meeting, I was hooked and my dream of becoming a writer was reignited.
4) How did you come up with the idea for Tansy to have the ability to travel into the photographs, and the affect that doing so had on her?
I've always been intrigued by old photographs of people. Photographs capture one brief moment in time and freeze it, and I can't look at one without asking myself questions. What was life like for that person during that time period Was he/she happy? Sad? Struggling? What was going through the person's mind and going on in his/her life when the camera flashed? I've always thought it would be so cool to be able to step into that frozen moment and find out the answers to those questions. Writing THROUGH HER EYES gave me the opportunity to explore that wish through Tansy. I allowed her to do what I can't!
5) In the end, the reason for Henry trying to get through to Tansy was different than most readers would have thought. Why did you decide to go this route, rather than making Through Her Eyes focus more-so on the romance side of it.
I never considered making THROUGH HER EYES a romance. Romance does play a part in the plot, but for me the story has always been about looking beneath the surface. The old saying, "more than meets the eye" is accurate when it comes to people. Over the course of the story, Tansy learns this lesson through her experiences with her grandfather and several other people she meets after moving to Cedar Canyon.
6) I felt like Through Her Eyes could have gone in many different directions, and not only be considered a paranormal novel. What are your thoughts on this?
I agree! Actually, I don't think of it first and foremost as a "paranormal novel." I hope it is also considered to be a mystery, a love story, and a coming of age novel about a girl who is learning about friendship, family, life and loss.
7) What is it like writing for young adults for the first time compared to writing for adults as in your previous novels?
I found the process to be very similar. I did face one new challenge, however -- I had to reconnect with my teen self and remember again all the emotions, hopes, dreams, joys and difficulties of being sixteen.
8) Do you believe that ghosts, such as Henry, and supernatural beings or occurrences are real to some extent?
I'm an open-minded skeptic when it comes to ghosts! I'm still not completely convinced that they exist, but a couple of weird experiences have made me think it's possible.
9) Are you currently working on any other books?
I'm working on a second young adult novel called THE SHADOW GIRL. I don't want to say too much about it yet, but I will tell you that it's set in the mountains, it's somewhat eerie, and that there's a love triangle!
10) Lastly, what advice would you give to any young readers who someday wish to become recognized authors?
Read, read, read and write, write, write. As much as you can. Read because you will learn from studying the work of other authors. Write because you learn from doing. Remember that your writing doesn't have to be perfect. The more your write, the better you'll get.
-This is T.B. with Another Book Back on the Shelf...
Until Next Time, Keep Reading!