I’ll Give You the Sun: guest post + giveaway

September 22, 2014 2014, contemporary, giveaway, mature themes, realistic fiction, Wendy 21

I’ll Give You the Sun: guest post + giveawayI'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Published by Dial Books on September 16, 2014
Genres: contemporary
Pages: 384 pages
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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A brilliant, luminous story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal for fans of John Green, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

This radiant novel from the acclaimed, award-winning author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.

When you read a Jandy Nelson novel, it’s an experience unlike any other. There’s unbridled joy and passion and despair in her characters, and their lives are messy and imperfect and full of yearning.  Her writing feels almost impressionistic to me in its vibrancy, ability to invoke emotion, and painterly observations of human nature, with the kind of unfettered freedom of expression you might find in great contemporary Aussie YA novels, or the seriousness of purpose of a Gayle Forman one.

With I’ll Give You the Sun releasing in stores this month, and with the book recently optioned for a film by Warner Bros., the author’s with us today as part of the official blog tour to tell us about how how a teacher inspired her to look at her writing in a whole new way. The very best stories are the ones that feel emotionally true, and this anecdote explains so much about the connection Jandy Nelson fans feel with the author’s books.


The Best Writing (and Life) Advice I Ever Got
by Jandy Nelson

When I was a graduate student at Vermont College of Fine Arts (a low residency MFA program in writing for children and young adults), I was lucky to get Deb Wiles as my first mentor. She’s the author of many amazing middle grade novels including the National Book Award finalist Each Little Bird that Sings. She’s also a warm-hearted, generous person and a brilliant teacher. Before going to this school, I’d never written a word of fiction. Not. One. Word. I wrote poetry, lots and lots of it that I mostly squirreled away Emily Dickinson-style in boxes in my closet (still there). I’d been devouring fiction since I was a child, and spent my days as a literary agent editing and championing works of fiction, but writing a novel myself was something that never occurred to me. The reason I had travelled 3,000 miles to this program was because I’d fallen in love with picture books.

The first work I sent to Deb contained some picture books I’d labored over and a short autobiography. She wrote back very excited about “my voice” but not in the picture books I’d sent her. She wrote: “In (the autobiography) you are unselfconscious, present, you are you, and that is the voice that will bring you into the world of children’s literature.”

I was shocked. I’d shot off the autobiography in less than an hour, had hardly thought about it. How could that inconsequential piece of writing contain my voice? I went back and reread it. And then I saw it, saw something that wasn’t so much in the other writing—I saw me. I was all over those pages: what I loved, what made me laugh, what made me despair, what made me tick. The rhythm and diction and syntax and cadences all matched the way I spoke. Writing it had felt as natural to me as talking to a good friend or singing in the shower when no one’s home.

It was a lightning strike moment. The one when I realized I could and would write a novel because what Deb was saying was this: All you have to do is be yourself, but on the page.

And can’t we all do that?

The next day I started writing The Sky Is Everywhere.

Now, after writing two novels, I believe this more than ever, believe the only way to unlock the hearts and minds of your characters, to unlock their inner and outer worlds is by unlocking your own. Ray Bradbury describes it beautifully. He says: “I finally figured out that if you are going to step on a live mine, make it your own. Be blown up, as it were, by your own delights and despairs.” And Guillermo in I’ll Give You the Sun essentially says the same thing to Jude when he tells her that he can’t find her anywhere in her artwork.

I think this is not only sage writing advice, but also some pretty good living advice. As the always-himself Oscar Wilde says: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”


About the Author

jandy nelsonJandy Nelson, like her characters in I’ll Give You the Sun, comes from a superstitious lot. She was tutored from a young age in the art of the four-leaf clover hunt; she knocks wood, throws salt, and carries charms in her pockets. Her debut novel, The Sky Is Everywhere, was on multiple Best Books of the Year lists, was a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults pick, earned numerous starred reviews, has been translated widely, and continues to enjoy great international success. Currently a full-time writer, Jandy lives and writes in San Francisco, California—not far from the settings of The Sky Is Everywhere and I’ll Give You the Sun. Visit her online at www.jandynelson.com or find her on twitter at @jandynelson.

I’ll Give You the Sun is on shelves now! Signed / personalized copies are available from Books Inc.

vine-divider-finalthe sky is everywhere

Win a copy of The Sky is Everywhere!

Thanks to our friends at Dial Books, you have the chance to win a new paperback edition of the author’s debut, The Sky is Everywhere. You’ve probably seen the rave reviews for this book in the blogsphere, and since it touches on the themes of loss and love, it makes a really nice companion piece to If I Stay by Gayle Forman.

Open to U.S. residents only. All you need to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form and leave a thoughtful comment below telling us why you’d like to win a copy of the book! See entry form for complete details. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review and giveaway copies were provided by the publisher. Author photo courtesy of Sonya Sones. Be sure to check out the rest of the blog tour, featuring guest posts, interviews, giveaways, and more!

i'll give you the sun

vine-divider-finalSo–are you intrigued by I’ll Give You the Sun? I hope you’ve also entered to win a copy of The Sky is Everywhere!

Wendy signature teal





21 Responses to “I’ll Give You the Sun: guest post + giveaway”

  1. Pili

    I have heard such amazing thing about I’ll Give You The Sun that I’m gonna be moving it from the wish list to the TBR pile STAT!

    That was a fantastic guest post! You really need to show yourself in whatever you do to make it right, otherwise it won’t feel authentic enough and it will lack feeling, even if we’re talking about less artistic and more mundane things that are not painting or writing.
    Pili recently posted…It’s My Birthday Week: Today I’m giving away Shadows by Paula Weston!!

  2. Jessica

    This book looks great. I’m not generally the biggest fan of contemporaries but this one sounds really interesting and different.

  3. Hilary

    That’s really good advice. I get so caught up with trying to write in a sophisticated style that writing then feels like a chore. I try to impress other people that I forget that writing is a personal journey. It’s me trying to find myself. I can’t do that if I’m pretending to be someone else.

    I wish I could enter but good luck to the other participants!
    Hilary recently posted…Currently Reading/TBR/I want this book NOW

  4. Larissa

    I’ve heard a lot about this one so it’s definitely been on my watch list as of late.That cover is also too awesome c: I’ve never read anything by Jandy Nelson but have only heard great things. I think I’ll Give You The Sun would be a good place to start. I have also finally read Gayle Forman’s If I Stay and loved it, so that comparison you made between the two authors makes me even more excited.

    I do love to write, in both English and Creative Writing class. I found Judy’s advice to be quite on point. It’s true that in certain forms of writing my voice does shine and it does feel more authentic and does make for easier/better writing. I found I used to try to emulate other writing styles because I felt like they were examples of how good writing should be. Now I try to do my own thing and it really does come across more natural in my eyes.

    Loved this post, and brb going to move to the USA so I can enter this giveaway [;
    Larissa recently posted…Review: Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh my gosh, you finally read IF I STAY? Yayyyy. Jandy’s first book, the one we’re giving away, touched on a lot of the same themes as that book, so you need to read that one, too.

      Authenticity is so important. I think readers respond to it, whether they can pinpoint that particular element or not.

      And hah, you should at least come visit the US sometime!

  5. Lily

    I think this truly is the best advice for any artist. Whether it’s a writer or a painter or a movie director or whatever. I think this can be applied to pretty much anything really. We really do need to know ourselves and actually understand ourselves to move on with anything. Great guets post!
    Lily recently posted…Our Next Read {8}

    • Wendy Darling

      Agreed, this sort of advice could be applied to any sort of artistic medium. If you understand yourself, you understand what you have to say, and what you have to bring to the world that’s different from everyone else.

    • Wendy Darling

      I don’t think her books work for everybody, and I have to admit her writing style takes a little getting used to. I really liked this story, however, and there’s a lot to appreciate in an artistic approach to writing. Much more interesting than the cookie-cutter stuff we often get in YA.

  6. Brenda

    Wonderful post, and great advice, especially this quote by Oscar Wilde “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” Just love it. I’ll Give You the Sun sounds very intriguing too.

    • Wendy Darling

      She has a cult-like following and her fan base is ever-growing, so it was awesome to hear her talk about her writing process a bit! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    • Wendy Darling

      They do! I think as a reader you get a sense of rightness and genuine-ness when you read a book in which the author isn’t trying too hard, you know? And those where the author actually has something to say.