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readergirlz is a literacy and social media project for teens, awarded the National Book Foundation's Innovations in Reading Prize. The rgz blog serves as a depot for news and YA reviews from industry professionals and teens. As volunteers return full force to their own YA writing, the organization continues to hold one initiative a year to impact teen literacy. All are welcome to "like" us on Facebook!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Story Secrets: 13 REASONS WHY by Jay Asher

That's right, Jay Asher is on the scene, here to share secrets to his mega-hit, THIRTEEN REASONS WHY!

I probably don't have to tell you that 13RY is published in over a dozen countries and has been on the New York Times Bestseller List for...I don't know, two years now? And probably for the rest of Jay's life?

Well, anyway, it is that awesome. Plus Jay is a super nice, down-to-earth guy, and we are thrilled to welcome him today. (At left, Jay and I hang out at the SCBWI WWA Conference.)

*****

Thirteen Reasons Why is a suspenseful novel dealing with a lot of serious teen issues. Clay Jensen, a high school junior, finds a package on his doorstep addressed to him and containing several cassette tapes. The tapes were recorded by his classmate and crush, Hannah Baker, who committed suicide two weeks earlier. On each side of each tape, Hannah talks about a different person at their school who she feels led to her decision to take her life. And if you received the tapes, Hannah says, you're one of the reasons why.


Holly: 13RY is such a shocking, yet universal story - and you've told it in a way that resonates with so many readers. How did the idea strike?

Jay: I spent about nine years trying to find the right story to tell in this audiotour format, using two simultaneous first-person narrators. One narrator would be a recorded voice, and the other would react to what the recorded voice was saying. I wanted to structure a novel like that after taking an audiotour of a mock-up of King Tut's tomb. But I wanted to tell a story that would be enhanced by that structure rather than use that structure simply as a gimmick. Around the same time that I took that audiotour, a close relative of mine attempted suicide. She was, like the character in my book, a high school junior. Talking to her over the years let me see how someone could become like Hannah....

Read the rest and see the first of Hannah's video tapes here...

3 comments:

Cari said...

This is on my to read list.

Mrs. DeRaps said...

This is a universal favorite among my high school students. I can't wait for your next book--No pressure!

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

It's a truly wonderful book. Thank you for writing it, Jay. And it's always fascinating to hear how a book came to be and the writer's process.