Author Q+A: Jennifer Juan

What inspired you on this book?

I recently went back and looked over some of my older work, some of which was written while I was studying at The University Of Greenwich, and it was so interesting to see how much growth there has been. I put together a collection called “The Things We Did Last Summer”, with some of the highlights of my older work, that hasn’t been published in print yet, so it will be a good starting point for anyone interested in how I’ve developed, without the pressure of having to scroll through my entire back catalogue.

In “Last Of The Greenwich Glamour Girls” I wanted to expand on my skills as a writer, and just continue to grow, learn and show people how far I’ve come as both a writer and a person. The title and the poem that goes along with it comes from something me and a friend used to call ourselves when we were studying at The University Of Greenwich. I didn’t take everything as seriously as I could have, because I think I was afraid of taking the next step into adult life, so now that I’ve moved on from that, and I’m growing and learning to do my own thing, I think there is a little regret from what could have been, but a lot of joy for what is to come, and I really tried to capture that in this book.

Why did you want to become a writer?

I wanted to explore language. I’m a really curious person, about everything, and so for me, learning and discovering things is what I love to do, and writing is no different. I’ve always seen it as a tool for exploration, and if I get to say something that is on my mind along the way, then that’s fine for me too.

What was the hardest part of creating this book?

I find it very difficult to let go of the things that I create sometimes, because even if I don’t mean them to come from my life, and my experiences, there is always a part of me that finds a way in, and it can make it very difficult to put things out there. I found one of the poems, Under Your Bed, particularly difficult, because it can be therapeutic to take something painful and create something from it, it can be so hard to have to revisit that. It’s like I was sitting with my laptop, with my trauma leaning over my shoulder, pointing out spelling errors and telling me how much I sucked, but it’s worth it, because it’s like gaining back the power from that situation. It doesn’t own me anymore, because I turned it into something strong, and it works for me now.

What do you hope people gain from reading it?

I hope that they’ll enjoy it, and maybe find something that they can relate to. I think that the relationship between an author and the reader is so important, so I hope I can build that with lots of new people, and strengthen that bond with my existing readers.

When you were a kid, what were your favorite books?

I loved and still love Carol Ann Duffy. I loved her way with words, and how she talked about things that I’d never really thought about before.

What is your advice to people who are not excited about reading?

Don’t beat yourself up about it too much. I think that sometimes people aren’t engaged with books, because their only experience with them is school, and they often don’t get too much choice with what they read. I think just being open to books, not putting so much pressure on yourself, and letting the right book find you. So many television shows and movies these days are based on books, or have novel adaptations, so if you find yourself enjoying The Walking Dead, for example, maybe go to your library and check out one of the comics? Or if you see a quote you like on instagram, maybe click on the hashtag and see if you find anything else you like.

I think another important thing is to remember that you can read whatever you want, it doesn’t have to be a huge leather bound book written in the Victorian era to be valid, if it has words, and it engages you, then you’re reading, and that’s cool. I think some are put off of reading because there is a lot of elitism, with people being shamed for enjoying certain books, or genres, or for reading in non traditional ways. I think if people involved in writing and reading communities work together to destroy the stigma and shaming of reading non traditional formats, we would find that a lot more people get excited about reading, because they’d feel more welcome.

Why should we buy your book?

I found myself finding answers to a lot of life’s questions in the books I’ve read over the years, and right now, I think a lot of us have questions, so maybe, I have the answers you’re looking for, but you’ll have to get the book to find out.


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