Jennifer Niven Discusses the Inspiration for Jack in Holding up the Universe Transcript
Hiya, I’m Jennifer Niven and my new book is called Holding up the Universe. It’s a story about a boy and a girl. A boy named Jack who cannot recognise faces, not even his own and a girl named Libby who used to be America’s fattest teen but refuses to let her weight define her and it’s a love story but it’s mostly a story about learning to love yourself.
As a thank you I wanted to share something that no one else knows about Holding up the Universe, which is that Jack was originally not named Jack, I think he was named Oliver and he was autistic and that was modelled after my cousin who has face blindness or Prosopagnosia, which is what Jack has still in Holding up the Universe and when I was talking to my cousin about how he finds the people he loves in the world since he cannot recognise them.
He said ‘I remember them by the important things like how many freckles they have or how nice they are and I thought that was so amazing that I had to write a story about it. First I made him very much like my cousin but as usually happens if I’m writing about someone who has inspired me in real life it becomes too close to the character sometimes. So I had to pull back and I had to recreate the character and make him completely his own person. And that’s how Jack came to be.