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Bliss Life

be bold. be brave. be remembered.

Jennifer Niven: Wild Woman Interview

Sep 25, 2012 10:12AM


Jennifer Niven

Interview by Susan Thorn

Meet Jennifer Niven: our wild woman of the week, an accomplished, award-winning, bestsellingauthor, and all around lover of life. I caught Jennifer at home midday as she was waiting for a friend to come over for a rare mid-week play day. Even in the midst of a seven-day-a-week 12 to 16 hour work schedule, this woman exemplifies living a life of appreciation and balance, all while going about it as a self-described big, bold, colorful, and happy person. By the end of the interview I was sure that anyone blessed to spend five minutes with her would leave feeling the same! Everything about her leaves you feeling like you just spent a day at the fair. She is fun, full of laughter, and definitely lives by her motto of living out loud and dreaming big. She attributes her approach to life to the manner in which she was raised, having two parents that she adores immensely. She remembers being told as a child that she could do anything she wanted to do, and she has!

Her first book, "The Ice Master," was released in November 2000 and named one of the top 10 nonfiction books of the year by Entertainment Weekly. She was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writer, and "The Ice Master" has been nominated for awards by the American Library Association and Book Sense, and received Italy's esteemed Gambrinus Giuseppe Mazzotti Prize for 2002.  Her second book, "Ada Blackjack," was a Book Sense Top Ten Pick, and has been optioned for the movies.  Her memoir, "The Aqua-Net Diaries: Big Hair, Big Dreams, Small Town," was optioned by Warner Bros. as a television series. Her first novel, "Velva Jean Learns to Drive" (based on her Emmy Award-winning film), was an Indie Pick for the August 2009 Indie Next List and was also a Costco Book of the Month. The second book in the Velva Jean series, "Velva Jean Learns to Fly," was released by Penguin/Plume in August 2011, and the third book in the series, "Becoming Clementine," was published Sept. 25, 2012. She is currently at work on the fourth book in the series, which will be out next fall. You can read more and watch the trailer here!

In spite of all her boldness, she admits to a private Southern Belle side that she gets from her mom and mentor Penelope Niven. Jennifer and her mom are very close. "She's a total rock star and she is my inspiration." Jennifer shared with me that they frequently talk by phone about projects they are working on (Penelope’s newest book, "Thornton Wilder:  A Life," will be released October 30), but what she loves most is when they both put all that away and just get "silly." Both Jennifer and her mom have found their way to do what they love most- writing, writing, writing.

Jennifer is obviously very fit and I begin to pick her brain about how she stays that way. When it comes to nutrition she believes in and practices portion control.  One of the most challenging things about her intense work schedule is finding time to eat well and work out, but both Jennifer and her mother believe that exercise and a healthy diet are essential elements to their success.  Jennifer says, “Even when I’m working as hard as I am—especially when I’m working as hard as I am—it’s important to take care of myself, and the food I eat and the exercise I do enables me to work more clearly and effectively.”  Her current workout of choice is Physique 57. She admits that, like any great workout, she typically begins with a dreaded "Why am I doing this?", and always ends feeling fantastic. Physique 57 is a fairly new workout using a barre approach that combines isometric exercises with orthopedic stretches to create a beautiful lean body. The weight resistance comes with using your own body weight; muscles are individually targeted and overloaded to the point of fatigue. When it comes to cheat food, Jennifer loves movie popcorn. I find myself wondering if there are times when portion control goes out the window here. If it does it certainly does not show!

I comment to this sexy lady that in my research I discover her favorite fictional villain is none other than Catwoman. "What is it about Catwoman?" I ask. She laughs and tells me, "The costume! Catwoman is sexy!” This says volumes to me and I find it a distinct match with all other areas in her life. All of Jennifer's favorites are sexy, fun, and bold.   Her authors, her favorite reads, and her greatest achievements. She is the ultimate role model for living bravely, sharing her joy, love, and good cheer. Jennifer also shared her own favorite wild women who inspire her. “I would say my mom, my family of strong and colorful Southern women, Flannery O’Connor, Harper Lee, the Bronte sisters, Carole Lombard, and Jean Harlow."

When it comes to her passion for writing she finds herself telling stories of ordinary people encountering extraordinary circumstances. What this author needs for us to know through her writing is that nothing is impossible--dream BIG! As she says this my heart is awash with her ability so speak so transparently and with ease about something larger than herself. She shared some influential personal experiences regarding people that have influenced her own life and who she is. She is fully aware of her place in the world based on where she has been, which is something most of us fail to see. Nothing she has experienced has gone unnoticed. Her first novel "Velva Jean Learns to Drive," she says is a story that very much parallels her own life. It is a coming-of-age story, in which a bright and talented young woman overcomes life's challenges and begins to believe in herself and a destiny beyond her childhood upbringing.

This amazing spirit was so much fun to chat with! She embraces all that life has to bring, freely invites others into her life, and lives with a positive "what's next" approach. She loves people, music, art, movies, laughing, sunshine, friends, cats, good hair, and does it all without fear. And that is why Jennifer Niven is our Wild Woman of the Week!

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