The Divining Wand

Discovering authors beyond their pages…

Jennifer Gooch Hummer: Why I Write

May 16, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[Jennifer Gooch Hummer’s debut novel Girl Unmoored could simply be described as stunning and be left at that. And maybe it should be, allowing readers to wonder, then discover on their own what makes it so.

The best news is that today’s guest post offers a sample of the author’s voice on her feelings and thoughts as Jennifer shares why she writes….(brilliantly).]

Why I Write

When my kids were still too young to taste the difference between brownies made with water and brownies made with broccoli, my husband went to Mt Everest for two months. Two months. He’s a sports broadcaster. It was a show. I talked to him once a week from base camp.

There were days when the only people I spoke to were three feet tall. Staying sane was a top priority, so I had to come up with a plan. I decided to pretend there were secret cameras in every corner of my house. That way, when I most wanted to scream my brains out, I would think twice and remember to at least smile as I did. And as nutty as this sounds, it helped. (I also taught them to address me as their “young-looking beautiful mom” whenever they asked for something.)

This is how writers go through life. Not as that insane mother, but as the hidden camera. We’re watchers. We watch people when they don’t know it. We watch people when we don’t know it. And weirdest of all, we watch ourselves and know it.

I write because I’ve always been the hidden camera. When I was seven years old, I was brushing my teeth one day, minding my own business, when the girl in the mirror smirked at me. “You’re going to be a writer you know.” “Nope,” I said. Writers were old and not pretty and not famous. Plus, I had big plans to be a professional Avon lady. There was no way I was going to be a writer. “You’ll see,” that little girl said. And by fourth grade I knew she was right.

I often wonder if whoever designed this thing called “Life” fell asleep at the wheel a few times. Why else would bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to bad? But writers can fix this. We add the motives to the craziness. Selfish, self-centered, mean? You don’t get the girl at the end. Humble, caring, funny? You do. It might be cliché, but it’s also reassuring. Writers are like ER doctors; we never know what kind of trauma we’re going to find when we show up at the page each day, but whatever it is, it’s our job to fix it.

Being the hidden camera can be solid gold at times. But it’s also a bit of a curse. When I’m away from the page for too long, my brain gets tangled and scrambled and snarled. The things I’ve seen or thought or watched in the passing wordless days make no sense. These motive-less moments get all cramped together inside that too-small space between my ears and pretty soon – we all know – it’s gonna’ blow.

I wish it weren’t this way. I wish I could stop assigning reasons as to why my mail person consistently wears a knee brace on the right knee one day, but on the left the next. I wish I would stop wondering why that guy I see at Starbucks who’s dressed in an Armani suit drives a red beat up truck. And mostly, I really wish I had just done the math on the SAT’s instead of staring off into space wondering why Jimmy had seventeen marbles while LaShawn only had six – did Jimmy steal them? Are they siblings? Is he threatening to beat her up if she tells anyone?

Okay, so I didn’t get into my first-choice college. But I’d be willing to bet my mother’s circa 1960 Pucci pants that I’m not the only writer out there whose head is in a constant state of repair. And I think we’d all agree that these brain explosions are much better splattered on paper rather than on family, friends and dentists. Personally, I need these people, I love these people (not my dentist) and even though I wish I could edit them sometimes (did I mention I have three tween/teenage daughters now?) staying sane for them is still a top priority.

So I write.

And every minute of every day I feel so lucky that I do.

* * * * *

In The Revealing of Jennifer Gooch Hummer, the phenomenal praise for Girl Unmoored was noted along with the news that the book had won the Paris Book Festival Award 2012, Best YA Fiction. Since then this unforgettable novel has also won The San Francisco Book Festival Awards 2012 – Teen Fiction, Next Generation Indie Awards for YA Fiction, Finalist in the Next Gen Indie for Best Chick Lit, and Finalist for Best Fiction Cover. Please disregard the YA and Teen Fiction labeling. This is a coming-of-age story — a tale in which lessons are learned about life and love at any age! [In fact, according to Amazon tracking, customers who purchased Girl Unmoored also bought Fifty Shades of Grey. I rest my case. 😉]

Jennifer Gooch Hummer can also be followed on Twitter and liked on Facebook.

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Girl Unmoored by Jennifer Gooch Hummer — in a random drawing — to anyone who leaves a comment on this post by 11:59 p.m. EDT tonight! The winner will be notified by email tomorrow.

The Revealing of Jennifer Gooch Hummer

May 09, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles, Q&A

This fairy godmother loves to present debut novelists and their books, and it’s with special pleasure that TDW features Jennifer Gooch Hummer with her coming-of-age story of Girl Unmoored.

Why special? First there is Jennifer’s description of the book:

“Girl Unmoored is about friendship. Deep, loyal friendship. The kind that supersedes family. The kind that keeps you anchored when everything else is falling apart. The kind that can save you.”

Then there are the [true] glowing, heartfelt raves:

“Love, loss, and the coming of age of one remarkable girl blaze through this haunting debut like a shooting star you’d wish upon. It’s tough and tender, funny and smart, and it frankly took my breath away. I loved it.”
— Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You

“With stunning emotional honesty, Girl Unmoored shaves away layers of innocence to reveal the true meaning of love… Effortlessly funny and poignant, Jennifer Gooch Hummer’s masterful debut offers surprises until the very end – a must-read!”
— Elise Allen, New York Times bestselling co-author of Elixir and author of Populazzi

“This book sneaks up on you. One moment you’re laughing at the quick wit and the next you can’t swallow down the lump in your throat. An intimate story of the entanglement of love and loss, Girl Unmoored breaks through the wall around your heart, giving it room to expand.”
— Susan Henderson, bestselling author of Up from the Blue

“From the shadows of loss and uncertainty to the ultimate act of forgiveness, Girl Unmoored is a uniquely rendered and quirky coming-of-age tale that will break your heart one minute and have you laughing out loud the next.”
— Beth Hoffman, New York Times bestselling author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

“Fierce, funny, deeply eloquent, and unerringly honest, Girl Unmoored is all four courses and dessert. What a dazzling, satisfying novel!”
— Gwendolen Gross, bestselling author of The Orphan Sister

In fact, here’s an entire page of reviews.

And, perhaps the pièce de résistance, Girl Unmoored recently won Paris Book Festival Award 2012, Best YA Fiction.

The synopsis:

Apron Bramhall has come unmoored. Fortunately, she’s about to be saved by Jesus. Not that Jesus—the actor who plays him in Jesus Christ Superstar. Apron is desperate to avoid the look-alike Mike, who’s suddenly everywhere, until she’s stuck in church with him one day. Then something happens—Apron’s broken teenage heart blinks on for the first time since she’s been adrift.

Mike and his boyfriend, Chad, offer her a summer job in their flower store, and Apron’s world seems to calm. But when she uncovers Chad’s secret, stormy seas return. Apron starts to see things the adults around her fail to—like what love really means, and who is paying too much for it.

Apron has come unmoored, but now she’ll need to take the helm if she’s to get herself and those she loves to safe harbor.

The Divining Wand has scheduled a return visit from Jennifer Gooch Hummer for next Wednesday, May 16, 2012. However, for now, let’s meet the author through her “official” bio:

Jennifer Gooch Hummer has worked as a script analyst for various talent agencies and major film studios. Her short stories have been published in Miranda Magazine, Our Stories, and Glimmertrain. A graduate of Kenyon College, she has continued studies in the Writer’s Program at UCLA, where she was nominated for the Kirkwood Prize in fiction. Currently, Jennifer lives in Southern California and Maine with her husband and their three daughters. Girl Unmoored is her first novel.

Now it’s time to get to know Jennifer upclose and personal:

Q. How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A. Creative. Lucky. Loved. Busy. Colorful. Nurturing. Funny. Quirky.

Q. What is your motto or maxim?
A. If no one has lice or is in the hospital, it can’t be that bad.

Q. How would you describe perfect happiness?
A. Having zero expectations. And World Peace.

Q. What’s your greatest fear?
A. Anything that could hurt my children

Q. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A. In Paris headed for Maine soon. Or in Maine headed for Paris soon.

Q. With whom in history do you most identify?
A. Any of the Salem Witches (the good kind).

Q. Which living person do you most admire?
A. My father.

Q. What are your most overused words or phrases?
A. “I’m not kidding.”

Q. If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A. Drawing.

Q. What is your greatest achievement?
A. That I taught my children to refer to me as “my beautiful young-looking mom” before I will listen to anything they need/want/wish/expect.

Q. What’s your greatest flaw?
A. Not remembering anything.

Q. What’s your best quality?
A. Not remembering anything.

Q. What do you regret most?
A. Loosing my cool and yelling back.

Q. If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A. I’d like to be a fairy next time around.

Q. What trait is most noticeable about you?
A. I’m always in a hurry.

Q. Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A. Phil Dunphy on Modern Family.

Q. Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A. Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada.

Q. If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A. Pau Gasol. “Please, I beg you, can my Lakers-fanatic daughter take a picture with you?”

Q. What is your biggest pet peeve?
A. Incompetence.

Q. What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A. Shopping (not for food).

Q. What’s your fantasy profession?
A. Fashion designer.

Q. What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A. Optimism. Humor. Loyalty.

Q. If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A. A baguette (from France).

Q. What are your 5 favorite songs?
A. “American Pie” – Don Mclean
“Heaven” – Eric Clapton
“Philadelphia” Bruce Springsteen
“The Boxer” Simon and Garfunkle
“Upside Down” Jack Johnson

Q. What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A. She’s Come Undone, Wally Lamb
The Art of Racing in the Rain, Garth Stein
Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris
The Center of Everything, Laura Moriarty
Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding

Bold, bittersweet, and exquisitely brilliant, Girl Unmoored is a “dare you NOT to love, must read” novel. And Jennifer Gooch Hummer is an author to watch by following on Twitter and liking her on Facebook.