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Meeting Jay Asher (original post 10/17/09)

Wow! What a totally fun afternoon at Border's! I arrived an hour early due to circumstances and so had time to sit and read (oh, poor me...not). While I was reading, Jay Asher showed up for his reading/signing so I boldly introduced myself (very un-me). We had a nice talk and I even got my photo taken with him.

Asher's talk was broadcast on the web through Penguin's Point of View Books (I don't know how long it takes for the event to be archived). They are documenting events about books that introduce topics that can be difficult to talk about (Thirteen Reasons Why deals with a teen's suicide). Asher's talk was really interesting and fun so I've done a summary of it below. Jay Asher is from San Luis Obispo so that's one of the reasons he did this event. That said, he talked about all the traveling he's doing to promote this book.

  • He started out writing funny books for kids, but spent 9 years getting rejections from publishers
  • He spent 3 years writing Thirteen Reasons Why then more time giving it to people he knew to get feedback. After a few rejections, he got 3 offers to buy it!
  • A high school in Illinois wrote a play script of the book and they are doing it as their fall play (more about that on Jay Asher's blog).
  • There are talks in the works for a movie
  • He got the idea for this book from a Las Vegas (Luxor Hotel) self-guided tour and from talking to a family member who had attempted suicide when she was in high school. He has talked to her a lot about it: what events made her depressed; what could people have done; did she really try to get help or tell people she was suffering; etc.
  • He read us a few emails and letters that he has received from teens who've read the book and the positive impact it had on them and their suicidal thoughts.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Though the topic is suicide, it is more than that. It's consequences, relationships, our effect on other people, friendship, high school, and more. I recommend this book to both girls and boys, high school students and adults.

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