2012 YA Debut Interview + Giveaway: NERVE by Jeanne Ryan

It’s time to feature ten Fall 2012 debut authors in my YA debut interview series! These are all books I’m excited to read this season, and I hope you will be, too. Today’s YA debut author is Jeanne Ryan—her novel, NERVE, comes out September 13 from Dial. Read on to see how Jeanne answered my Q&A…

And be sure to enter the GIVEAWAY for a chance to win a signed copy of her book!

NERVE is coming from Dial Books on Sept. 13!

Nova: I’ll start with the dreaded question you may be hearing already from strangers on elevators, long-lost family members, and your doctor while you’re sitting on the examination table in the paper gown during your next checkup: “So what’s your book about?” (Feel free to use the jacket copy, or describe in your own words. Up to you.)

Jeanne: NERVE is about a teenage girl named Vee who’s picked to be a player in an anonymous game of dares broadcast live online. Soon she discovers that the game *knows* her. They tempt her with prizes taken from her ThisIsMe page and team her up with the perfect boy, sizzling-hot Ian. At first it’s exhilarating—Vee and Ian’s fans cheer them on to riskier dares with higher stakes. But the game takes a twisted turn. Suddenly they’re playing all or nothing, and the prize might be their lives.

In my experience, every book wants to be written differently—and each one behaves differently from the one before it. Some novels like it out of order, and some rigidly insist on being written from start to finish. Some novels come out fast; others are excruciatingly slow. Some novels torment you, and some sing you to sleep. What did your novel want? How did you appease it? Did it ever misbehave? 

This is the only manuscript I’ve written that came out in a torrent—well, a torrent by my standards. Normally, it takes me a year to write a book. NERVE took five months. Along the way, I appeased it by journaling, mostly to consider which dares would work best. I also attended an SCBWI retreat after the second draft, which helped me flesh out my characters and plot. Although the manuscript didn’t feel as if it were misbehaving at the time I was writing, once it sold, I had to rewrite about half of it.

Tell us about the place—as in the physical location: a messy office, a comfy couch, a certain corner table at the café—where you spent most of your time writing this book. Now imagine the writing spot of your fantasies where you wish you’d been able to write this book… tell us all about it.

 I have a perfectly cozy writing spot at home, with a perfectly lovely view, however, I can never focus when I’m there. So, it’s off to the coffee shop I go. (There’s also a local burger joint where the staff know me pretty well.) Whichever venue I’m at, my spot is one of the coveted ones near an electrical outlet. All of the regulars know exactly where those seats are and hover accordingly when those spaces are occupied.

Perfectly lovely view from perfectly cozy writing space…
…the perfectly lovely coffee shop where Jeanne writes instead.

The writing spot of my fantasies would be on a lanai in Hawaii, with the waft of plumeria in the air, a warm breeze and a guava-juice infused drink. Plus, my kids and husband would be involved in their own delightful activities, so I could write to my heart’s content without any guilt.

Imagine you’re on the subway, or the bus, or sitting in a park somewhere minding your own business… and you look up and see the most perfect person you could imagine devouring your book. This is your ideal reader. Set the scene and describe him or her (or them?) for us.

I’m reading the news and there’s a story about the president’s daughter buying my book, oh wait, that was Imaginary Girls[Ha! Yeah, that’s still surreal. —Nova] Back to my own fantasy… Let’s see, I’m on the beach at a nearby lake, hanging out on a perfect Seattle summer day (78 degrees and sunny). Nearby, on a flotilla of towels, lounge a group of teen girls, one of whom is engrossed in my book and fending off the others who keep asking her about it.

What was the moment when the upcoming publication of your novel felt “real” for the first time—when you got your editorial letter, when you saw the cover, when you held the ARC in your hands… or something else? Or if it doesn’t feel “real” yet, when do you think it will?

All of those events were milestones, but the one that delivered the biggest electric jolt was seeing my cover for the first time. The image the designer created was both totally unexpected and totally perfect. I cried.

Although I didn’t get a picture of myself crying over my cover, I did document getting my ARCs in a photo and even created a silly video.

Now that they’ve gone off into the world, I’m glad I still have photographic keepsakes.


Dream question: If you could go on book tour anywhere in the world, with any two authors (living or dead), and serve any item of food at your book signing… where would you go, who with, and what delicious treat would you serve your fans?

Man, this is tough. My first answer was Bono and the Dalai Lama, so we could discuss social justice, spirituality and the music industry. However, those topics aren’t exactly germane to my book. Since an overarching theme in NERVE is privacy, my official answer is Mark Zuckerberg and Taylor Swift. Zuckerberg because he’s the CEO of Facebook and seems to promote an extremely open policy around data sharing, and Swift because she lives with the ramifications of leading a public life. We’d go to both big cities and small to generate conversations on privacy. I’d serve taro bubble shakes with tapioca because to try one is to love one.

If you had to pick one sentence, and one sentence only, to entice someone to read your book, what would it be? (I almost hate myself for asking you this question and making you choose! Almost.)

“NERVE’s a game of truth or dare, without the truth part.”

NERVE will be published by Dial Books on September 13, 2012. Read on for a chance to win a signed copy!

Jeanne Ryan has lived all over the world, raised in a family with eleven brothers and sisters. She spent her early childhood in Hawaii and the rest of her growing-up years trying to figure out a way to get back there, with stops in South Korea, Michigan and Germany along the way. Before writing fiction, she tried her hand at many things, including wargame simulation and youth development research. But she decided it was much more fun to work on stories than statistics. These days, she still loves Hawaii, but has found her home under the moody skies of the Pacific Northwest. This is her debut novel.

Visit her at jeanneryan.com to find out more. 

Find her on Facebook. Or follow @Jeanne_Ryan on Twitter.


You could win: a signed finished copy of NERVE by Jeanne Ryan

How to enter:

1. Just leave a comment on this post, or

2. Fill out this entry form.

If you do both, you will be entered TWICE!

And to gain another entry, just tweet about this interview and giveaway—and let me know you did in your comment or on the form—and you’ll be entered THREE TIMES.

This giveaway is open in the US only. This giveaway closes on Monday, September 17 at 8pm EST. Good luck!

What’s the next Fall 2012 YA debut novel I’m looking forward to? Come back tomorrow to find out.

…And stay tuned for the end of the interview series, when I’ll host an INTERNATIONAL giveaway to win the featured debut of your choice!

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