Jenny Han is a contemporary queen when it comes to YA! Her following has grown over the years from her first novel, The Summer I Turned Pretty, to her latest, Always and Forever, Lara Jean, a conclusion to her series To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. I got the amazing opportunity to meet and interview Jenny before a recent book event she participated in with Jennifer E. Smith.
Sophie Schmidt: This is my favorite question to start with in interviews: Tell us something we won’t find in your bio.
Jenny Han: I am not a very good driver. I’m just a nervous driver! I’ve never gotten a ticket or been in an accident, but I don’t love driving. I feel nervous, but I’m a careful driver. I put a lot of that nervousness into Lara Jean—my driving stuff and feelings of anxiety.
SS: That’s so cool and interesting! What compelled you to continue Lara Jean and Peter’s story?
JH: I think what it really boiled down to was missing the characters, and thinking there was really more of the story left to tell, which I didn’t realize until months later. I had really meant to leave it as just the two [books].
SS: So Lara Jean has to go through a lot of changes, and the whole time I felt for her. When she was going through the application process I was reliving this past fall and spring, and when she was getting her acceptances I felt for her because I just got done with it! How did your personal experiences with rejections and college influence your writing?
JH: I remember I didn’t get into where I wanted to go, and it was really disappointing. Ultimately, I’m really happy with where I ended up. I took a class on writing for children and I ended up writing in college. It ended up great. There’s a lot of avenues you can take to get where you want to go. I think that there are so many different routes you can take, and wherever you go is where you’re meant to be.
SS: As you started going to college, what did you think you would be when you graduated?
JH: I was a psychology major and a criminal justice minor, and at the time I was really interested in forensic psychology. I think everyone was because that’s when all of these police procedurals were out on TV, so it was this really sexy thing. I got a minor in that and English, too. I always loved writing. Once I started writing in that class, it was so fun and easy. I hadn’t written for fun in a couple of years so it was really fun to tap back into.
SS: Let’s talk a little about your characters. Which one do you connect with the most?
JH: I probably connect to Lara Jean the most because of the closeness to sisters and her aversion to change. When I was growing up big changes could really freak me out, especially changes regarding the family. The family unit shifting always felt very destabilizing.
SS: I noticed that was a detail that was present for Margot, too. Change is always scary, especially when you feel like it’s the end all and be all. How was writing this series different from your others?
JH: In terms of characters, all of these felt like they came really easily. I could see the sisters clearly in my mind so it didn’t feel hard to write those girls.
SS: I love the sisterhood bond, too! I have three sisters so I felt like that was really relatable in your books. Okay, cookies are a big theme throughout your book…what’s your favorite?
JH: Chocolate chip!
I want to say a massive thank you to Jenny for taking the time to sit down with me! I look forward to what she writes in the future. What do you guys think? Isn’t she so sweet?! Let me know by sharing and commenting!
Jenny Han (c) Adam Krause