I am thrilled to have Jennifer E. Smith -- the author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, my favorite book of 2011 -- on the blog today.
Check out our discussion below!
Check out our discussion below!
Jennifer E. Smith looking cute!
AH: First of all, I hope you know that no single girls are going to ride a plane again without looking around for an Oliver. He's going to make a LOT of "fictional crush" lists in 2012. Who would be on yours?
JS: Something about Oliver definitely seems to have caught on with readers, which is great to see. I’ve already gotten a lot of notes from people sitting in airports, wondering why they haven’t met someone like him yet. As for me, my fictional crushes are a bit more old-fashioned...
Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice – I think any list of fictional crushes would probably be incomplete without the dashing Mr. Darcy. There’s definitely something timeless about him.
Laurie from Little Women – I know Jo refused him, and that was definitely the right move for her, but how can you not love Laurie? He was always so good to the Marches.
Peeta Mallark from The Hunger Games – For some reason, I’ve been on Peeta’s side right from the very beginning. Not that I don’t love Gale too, but Peeta was always so sweet, and he was there for Katniss in so many important ways.
Mr. Knightley from Emma – This is going to make me sound like I’m about thousand years old, picking two Jane Austen characters, but I can’t help it; Mr. Knightley is just about perfect, as far as these things go.
Neville Longbottom from Harry Potter – I’m sure most other people would pick Harry or Ron or even Draco ahead of Neville, but I don’t care. Neville is nerdy and sweet, and he came through in the end in a big way. I’m definitely Team Neville.
AH: I named this book my FAVORITE read of 2011 -- and other bloggers are raving too. Has anything surprised you about the response from early readers so far?
JS: Thank you! That’s so nice to hear, and the response has been incredibly gratifying. I have to say, pretty much everything about this book has surprised me. This isn’t a debut novel, and while I’m very proud of my first two books, the reaction to Statistical Probability has felt very different right from the start. Since I work in publishing, I know how rare it is to have an experience like the one I’m having with this book, and so I’m unbelievably grateful to all the bloggers and reviewers and foreign publishers who embraced this novel before it even came out. As a writer, you can’t hope for anything better than for your work to strike a chord with readers. So I couldn’t be happier.
AH: "Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight" is such a lovely title for this story -- did you have any working titles before settling on this one?
JS: Oh yes! We didn’t actually come up with the current title – which we’ve been calling STAT to save time – until pretty late in the game. For a long time, the working title was Arrivals and Departures, which I liked quite a bit. But my publisher wasn’t that keen on it, so for months and months we were just calling it Untitled Airplane Novel. At one point, my editor had suggested The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, which – as you know – comes from a line at the end of the book, and we all really liked it, but were worried it might be too unwieldy. Another month or two passed, and a friend of mine read the book. I had told her we were having trouble figuring out what to call it, and she picked out the same line at the end as a possible title, so we decided to revisit it. At that point, I think we just didn’t care whether or not it was too long. We were desperate for a title, and it seemed to fit the bill. So it stuck! And I’m so glad it did.
|Me, acting a fool with my Statistical sleep mask|
AH: As an editor, do you find your writing process is different compared with other writers you've worked with? Does knowing the ins and outs of the process help?
JS: Being an editor has undoubtedly made me a better writer. You can’t spend that much time reading manuscripts – figuring out what works and what doesn’t, how to make a story better, how to improve upon a sentence – without learning something from it. And I’m lucky enough to work with some incredibly talented authors who have taught me a great deal. But knowing the ins and outs of the process can also be a double-edge sword. I spend a lot of my time going to editorial meetings and discussing publishing strategy, and as a writer, there’s a danger in knowing exactly what kind of books editors are looking for – you can end up writing toward the market, which is never a good thing. It’s so important that you have to write the book you want to write, not the one that you think should be written. Since I write YA books and edit adult ones, there’s a little bit of separation between them, which is helpful, though it can still be tricky to navigate two careers that are so closely related. But all in all, I think it’s been a good thing for me, and I’ve learned an enormous amount from both my authors and my colleagues. I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today as a writer without all the books I’ve read and all the experiences I’ve had while working in publishing.
Jennifer E. Smith grew up outside of Chicago and graduated from Colgate University. She earned her master's in creative writing from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and currently lives in New York City. Her first book was The Comeback Season.
Thanks, Jennifer! Come back anytime!