The Pitch

Jennifer Nielsen comes to WJ to sign copies of her new book

Courtney Cohn, Sports Editor

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Aspiring writers and avid readers at WJ gathered in the media center at lunch on March 9 to meet author Jennifer Nielsen. She recently published the novel The Traitor’s Game and many copies were set aside for students to purchase and get signed.

Nielsen has also published many other novels, including The False Prince, A Night Divided and Mark of the Thief.

Junior Meredith Schulof, among many others, was excited to meet Nielsen and get her signature in her newest novel.

“I’m the vice president of book club, so I felt like I wanted to [attend] and I think it’s just fun to just go enjoy a book….and to meet an author,” Schulof said. “I love getting books signed.”

After the students purchased their copies of the book and got settled in with their friends at tables, Nielson stepped up to the front to begin speaking to them. Instead of spending her time presenting a pre-written speech to the students, she simply began with a short intro and then proceeded to discuss topics that interested the students.

The whole format was informal, as she asked for student questions, provided detailed responses and discussed her own personal experience as well.

One theme she focused on throughout her discussion was never giving up no matter how hard writing gets.

In fact, in order to prevent students from becoming frustrated and giving up, she provided a tip for students who get writer’s block and cannot continue their stories.

She emphasized how she always puts her characters in danger or in difficult situations in order to create an interesting plot and she advised them to do the same in their own work. She also explained that no one wants to read a book written by a “nice” author who refuses to let anything bad happen to their characters because conflict and character anguish drive a story.

“Story is conflict, and you want to be a cruel author,“ Nielsen said. “We want to be nice people, mean authors.”

She also discussed how to develop a successful career as a writer, how to deal with rejection, the importance of peer feedback, the influence and voices that women have right now in the writing world and in any career, and many other topics.

Right before the bell rang, students formed a line to approach her and get her signature in their newly purchased books. She took the time to get to know each student as she added a personalized touch to each of their books.

Nielsen expressed enjoyment in the experience and was glad to have extensive dialogue with students about writing.

“I think it’s really valuable to talk to high school students about writing because you are at an age where you are going to begin to produce stuff that the world will take note of,” Nielsen said. “It’s an honor to be here.”

Her next novel, Resistance, is comes out on August 28.

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Jennifer Nielsen comes to WJ to sign copies of her new book