A Powerful & Emotional Interview with the Extraordinary Jennifer Brown, Author of Hate List
April 28th, 2010 by Liza Wiemer

Extraordinary Author Jennifer Brown

It is with tremendous gratitude and admiration that I share with my readers this incredible interview with Jennifer Brown, author of one of the most powerful books I have ever read, Hate List. There are many fine YA novels on the market, but only a few have the ability to impact the reader in such a emotional and visceral manner.  Hate List, in my opinion is a must read for every teen, teacher, and parent.  It shows the fragile line between being bullied and bullies and the horrendous consquences that can occur when an individual has had too much or has been pushed over the edge. Personally, I believe that Hate List should be required reading for middle school and high school students. To see reviews or for more information here’s the link to Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/y9a8m5w or Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6316171-hate-list AT THE END OF THIS INTERVIEW ARE FIVE WAYS TO WIN AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF HATE LIST!  Please enter!

Q:  As the reader, I went through an array of powerful emotions reading Hate List. What was the emotional experience like for you as you wrote the novel, especially since characters live and breathe for the author?

A:  At times it was a bit tough. I was, in some ways, reliving some of the things that happened to me in school, and that brought back emotions that I hadn’t felt in a long time. But fortunately, I also write humor, and having my weekly column was very helpful in getting me out of somber mode and into a lighter state of mind at least one day every week.

Q:  Have you personally experienced violence or bullying?  If so, how did the experience impact your life and influence writing Hate List?

A:  Yes, I was bullied in junior high and part of high school. It very much influenced who I became as a person. Other than being tripped in a crowded lunch room and receiving threats that I was going to be beat up, I wouldn’t say I was a victim of violence, really. More, the bullying I endured was along the lines of rumors, gossip, and “mean girl” stuff. What happened to me did impact not only the writing of Hate List (in fact, some of the bullying scenes are very similar to things that happened to me), but have impacted my life in that I now have a means to reach out to students and talk to them about bullying. That is very important to me. Nobody should have to go through what I went through, and I know that what I went through was nothing compared to what some kids out there are going through.

Q:  Since Hate List came out on the market, what has surprised you the most?  Readers?  Reviews?  Reactions?  Something in the story you would have changed or perceived differently?

A:  Librarians. I have been the most surprised by librarians. I mean, I’ve always had a love for libraries, but I never, until now, realized how passionate

Hate List, by Jennifer Brown

librarians can be — not only about reading, but about sharing books with readers. I’ve visited a lot of schools since Hate List came out, and am always just… floored and fascinated… at how the librarians are the heartbeat of the school. They know all the kids. They know who needs to hear my message the most. And they get so excited about sharing a good book with “just the right student.” Librarians rule!

Q:  If there were anything that you could have said to Nick and/or Valerie to have prevented the tragedy, what would it have been?

A:  It gets better. It does. If you can just hang on and get through this bad time… life gets so much better. You will graduate and leave these mean people behind and will never, ever have to see them again.

Q:  We’ve all heard the verbiage, History repeats itself.  How do you think our society can reduce or prevent the violence you describe in Hate List?

A:  I wish I knew how to make it stop! But the best I can say is… keep talking about it. The more we talk about it, the more we learn how to make it better, no matter what the problem is. Talk to your kids about it. Talk to your students about it. Talk to each other about it. And encourage the young adults in your life to be nice, to be responsible. The best way to do this, by the way, is by modeling nice behavior. There are so many adult bullies out there — all you have to do is check out comments on any given message board or blog site… or watch some reality TV… to see that.

You know, one thing that continually amazes me is how many people really only think bullying is bullying if someone is physically harmed. But that’s just not true. Rumors are bullying. Gossip is bullying. Keeping someone out of a group is bullying. Teasing (and taking it too far, or teasing in a mean way) is bullying. Saying bad things about someone on your Facebook page is bullying, even if you think they’ll never see it (trust me, they’ll hear about it).

And, finally, talk to someone if you’re the victim of bullying. Go to an adult who can help you. You shouldn’t be keeping miserable and lonely and sad feelings to yourself.

Q:  Please share an experience that deeply moved you since Hate List was published.

A:  I was visiting some schools in a city about 2 hours away from where I live. I had a packed schedule, and barely had breathing room. But I received an email from a principal of a local alternative school in the area, asking if I could please squeeze in 20 or 30 minutes at their school while I was in town. She was so passionate about getting me there, I agreed to do it, even though it meant I was going to have to really fly to make my next school visit. I got to the school and found out that I was the first visiting author that the school had ever had. Ever! The students were so attentive and wonderful, and the teachers so appreciative that I would talk to them. After my visit, I received an email that the students had decided to create a student-led book club, and that their first club read was going to be Hate List.

Q:  What advice do you have for middle school and high school students who have been bullied?

A:  Go to your school counselor and ask for help. Bullying does tend to stop if an adult who knows what they’re doing confronts it head-on. If your counselor isn’t helping, keep talking. Talk to teachers, talk to administrators, talk to your parents. Eventually, someone will help you.

Q:  In Hate List the lines blur for many of the characters.  For example – Valerie and Nick are being bullied, but also are perceived as bullies.  They are hateful and loving.  We also might say that Valerie and Jessica are victims, perpetrators, and saviors.  You did a phenomenal job of showing different sides to many of the characters.  What overall message do you feel is important for the reader to take away from your portrayals?

A:  That you are not only your reputation, so why should anyone else be only theirs? We are all human. We are all flawed. And we are all complex. It’s so easy to “hate” someone you don’t really know, based on something you’ve heard about them, or the first impression they gave, or whatever. Valerie’s main goal in Hate List is to “see what’s really there.” I’d like my readers to do that as well. See people for who they really are.

Q: As the mother of three children, what life lessons do you hope to impart to them?  (They do not necessarily have to relate specifically to Hate List.)

A:  Oh, so many! I want them to be caring people. I want them to see that their actions do matter in this world. And I want them to follow their dreams, whatever those dreams may be. I want them to know that they can accomplish anything they set their mind to. And I want them to always come home for Christmas, even if they live far away. 🙂


Readers may find up-to-date information about Jennifer Brown and read her blog on her website: http://www.jenniferbrownya.com/

Enter to win an AUTOGRAPHED copy of Hate List by choosing any one of the following:

1. Leave a comment about how bullying has impacted your life, or the life of someone you know.

2.  Explain why you would like a copy of this book.

3.  Ideas you have to put an end  to bullying.

4.  General comments about this blog piece.

5.  Add a link to this blog piece on your website, Twitter it, or post a link on your Facebook or MySpace page. (Please list it.)

A winner will be selected randomly and is open to individuals in the United States or Canada.  Deadline is May 20, 2010

14 Responses  
louisiana department of education certification at home page | Educational Indiana writes:
April 28th, 2010 at 6:22 pm

We added this to our webpage! .[…] WhoRuBlog » Blog Archive » A Powerful & Emotional Interview with … […]

J.R. Roper writes:
April 28th, 2010 at 9:49 pm

I teach middle school and spend a great deal of time talking about traditional bullying and cyberbullying. I would love a copy of the book as we have 17 minutes set aside for silent reading each day. Half of the students only pretend read, and I think me reading Hate List to them would be a powerful experience. Will also link this blog to mine (if it isnt already).

Courtney Rae writes:
April 29th, 2010 at 4:00 pm

I was only in public school up until halfway through 9th grade. To say I had problems with the mean girls in school is a serious understatement.
I used to be friends with most of them. Best friends at that. Until I said I liked my friends crush, that is.
My “friend” flipped and exiled me from everyone. She threatened all my friends to stay away from me or else. [One girl stayed my friend (we are still bff’s), though.]
I was always picked on about everything after that. If they found me in the bathroom, they smacked me down about what I was wearing. The lunchroom, it was something about my weight. It was not fun.
By high school, I had enough. There was no way I could talk to anyone about it, though. Adults would just brush it off as teen behavior. So, I took matters into my own hands and yelled at them. As I yelled, I told their secrets. In front of everyone at lunch.
No, not the right way to handle it, but it got them off my back, and people respected me for finally sticking up for myself.

Luckily I ended up moving a lot and started homeschooling. I don’t have to deal with that high school drama anymore, and I’m happy.

Bullying, no matter how small or big, should be stopped. It’s not healthy for the one being bullied or the bully himself.

Pamela writes:
April 30th, 2010 at 12:07 pm

I think bullying has been around for a long time, since I was bullied even in the 60’s when I was in school. It is recognized much more now and addressed. I was locked in lockers, put in trash cans, had my homework ruined, and made to feel like less than. My mother’s advice was to ignore it at first, to tell a teacher (who said to work it out on our own), and to stay away from the mean kids. I survived, but I never forgot the way they made me feel.

Robyn writes:
April 30th, 2010 at 3:00 pm

I go to a small school in the country, where everyone knows everyone. You’d think that that would prevent bullying a little more. But it doesn’t – at least not in my school. I myself have never really had to deal with bullying, but I have friends who have. One friend in particular has had nasty rumors spread about her around the entire school, and has been physically beaten by another girl. It’s a horrible thing to have to deal with, and no one should have to.

The Youth Health Center in my school (which I am a part of) has recently decided that we have two major issues in out school – homophobia and bullying. Both of which kind of tie in together. This year we are dedicating out time to try to prevent it, or at least make people more aware of the consequences of bullying. Not only the immediate effects, but ones that develop after years and years of bullying. We are trying to make people aware that it’s not “funny” and can seriously affect a person’s life. Many people don’t realize it, but it can cause a person to have serious emotional issues. They might start cutting themselves, develop eating disorders or addictions, or even go as far as committing suicide.

It’s the horrible truth – one that many people ignore. I’m honored to be a part of my school’s attempts at trying to raise people’s awareness on the subject.

Cindy Springsteen writes:
April 30th, 2010 at 6:17 pm

My daughter most recently was bullied by another child’s parent. This woman said things to my daughter, went to my daughters boyfriend’s parents and spoke badly about her and even went to other of my daughters friends and said things. This caused my daughter extreme depression, crying spells, not wanting to go to school to face this girl whose mother was tormenting her life. After numerous numerous messages to this woman I confronted her face to face, made her apologize to all involved and my daughter! As a child I was bullied by others in school because as a teen I had teen acne. This made my life at school miserable, causing me to miss many days and after years of being on honor roll I wound up never being again. Bullying lately has gotten out of hand as I have written about in my one of my articles. I would love to read this book to be able to further help educate my parent readers and hopefully teens.

Melissa writes:
April 30th, 2010 at 8:16 pm

When I was growing up I wasn’t physically bullied – or at least rarely. I was often called mean names or was asked to say or do things just so that some of my other “friends” could laugh at me in elementary school. For some reason, I even considered one of these girls to be my best friend, but as time passed, I realized more and more that I wasn’t wanted. I was lucky though because this was just when I started high school and had started making new friends, so I was able to transition away from them. It was the best thing I could’ve done because later that year there were some really hard things I had to deal with, and I know that they wouldn’t have been supportive.

I felt really betrayed, especially by my “best friend,” at the time, and thought that the opinions of some of the other girls we hung out with had finally convinced her that I was nothing more than a loser. I never spoke to her again, though I did talk with some of the other girls as we moved through school. To this day, I sometimes have a hard time trusting other women my age because of the things that happened back then.

Sam writes:
May 4th, 2010 at 12:18 pm

My friend uses a wheelchair. One time I was walking with him and a friend from school came up to us and said, “You’re friends with some one with a wheelchair. He can’t even walk!” He kept on going on and on. “Ha ha ha!!” That made us feel so angry. This friend in the wheelchair was the only one out of all my friends who gets me, so I said, “If you’re going to treat him this ways and laugh at him for what he can’t control then were done!!!” We both “walked” home happy.

Kayla writes:
May 6th, 2010 at 5:46 pm

I’ve both experienced bullying and know friends who have experienced it. Not the physical aspects, the emotional ones.
There was a girl in grade school who used to threaten me daily and make my school life miserable. Later on, I was friends with a group of girls who suddenly decided to become ‘popular’. They decided to shun me, thinking it would better their chances.
Now, in high school, I don’t experience that much. Yet my friends continue to go through name calling, abuse in the hallways, etc.

Jaime Skelton writes:
May 8th, 2010 at 3:29 pm

This sounds like an amazing book – and this was a great interview! I was bullied a lot as a kid for many things, mainly because I was “smart.” It made me so much of a recluse!

Faith Draper writes:
May 9th, 2010 at 9:48 am

Sounds like an excellent yet depressing book – super spectacular review & interview… Afraid the only first hand experience I’ve had with bullying was from an abusive father but I hear so much of this happening these days. I guess I raised 4 tough, independent, and loyal kids – someone tried to bully a friend of theirs or an ‘underdog’ they (my kids) were leaders of the pack to defend, protect, support the one being bullied.

Sara Broers writes:
May 11th, 2010 at 2:43 pm

What a great interview with excellent information. Bullying is such a horrific experience for so many….

Angie D writes:
May 16th, 2010 at 11:09 am

WOW!! This sounds like an extremely powerful book and one I would love to read. I’ve always tried to teach my son that bullying is not a way to solve problems. Probably his own big lesson was the Columbine tragedy. It happened when he was still in elementary school but it was the high school he would go to and the one I attended also. In the Littleton area since the tragedy I think bullying is at the forefront of everyone’s mind and people try to be more accepting…at least I do hope!
I tweeted about this giveaway http://twitter.com/bangersis/status/14106303971
Thanks for the opportunity to read this and if I don’t win I will have to go buy it:)

WhoRuBlog » Blog Archive » The Best YA Novels About Suicide writes:
June 14th, 2012 at 7:26 pm

[…] endorse reading them: 1. Hate List by Jennifer Brown – see my interview with Jennifer here: http://www.whorublog.com/?p=445 2. Bruiser by Neal Schusterman 3. Looking for Alaska by John Green and 4. Forbidden by Tabitha […]

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