Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Authors in the Corner: Jennifer Ziegler

Today we have a guest blog from author Jennifer Ziegler (How NOT to be Popular). You can find out more about her at her website.


Ever since my second novel, How NOT to be Popular, came out this past January, I get asked a lot about popularity.

"Were you popular in high school?" they'll ask. My answers usually range from "no" to "maybe a little" to "I don't know."

I guess I'm never sure how to reply because I'm not clear on what they mean by "popular." Do they mean well-liked? If so, then yeah. I guess. I didn't have any mortal enemies and I did manage to get elected to class office a couple of times. Or do they mean crown-on-your-head popular? Everyone-knows-your-face popular? Salivated-over-by-every-male-student popular? If so, the answer is loud and clear "no way!"

"What are you trying to tell us with your book?" I'll sometimes get asked. "What point does it make?"

That's also tough to respond to. See … when I write a novel, I don't try to impart some grand message or lesson. First of all, I really don't have great wisdom on any subject – I'm still figuring things out for myself. And secondly, I hate it when novels do that. As a reader, I want to be caught up in a story, not preached to. With How NOT to be Popular, as with all my writing, I'm simply exploring things. I'll ask questions that the reader can maybe think about and try to answer on his/her own, but I'm not going to tell them what to think.

So here are some of the themes my book investigates – without drawing conclusions:

What makes someone popular or not popular? Is it something you are born with or a learned skill? Can someone who is not popular look and behave in a way that will bring them popularity? Inversely, can people who are naturally charismatic somehow turn it off and make themselves unappealing?

How are popular people different from not-as-popular people? Are they bolder? Cooler? Better looking? Are they all special trendsetters? Or perhaps one or two trendsetters surrounded by a group of followers?

Is it good to be popular? Does popularity make things easier for a person … or tougher? Should everyone try to be popular? Or are there times when it's just not worth it?

I'd like to know what YOU think. How do you feel about popularity? What are your thoughts and experiences?

Maybe we can find some answers together.

Thanks so much, Jennifer!

Quote of the Day:

It's as common as something that nobody knows

Her beauty will follow wherever she goes.

-- Jack Johnson, "Bubble Toes"


Carol said...

Great guest blog! I don't think popularity is all that. It can change a person and turn them ugly. I like having a close knit of friends and being unknown by everyone else over everyone knowing me and staring at me.