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Jennifer Niven | Biography


Personal Life and Education

Jennifer Niven was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, on May 14, 1968, to Jack McJunkin and Penelope Niven. Penelope Niven, a high school English teacher, is the author of the highly acclaimed Carl Sandburg: A Biography (1991), as well as five other books. One of these, Voices and Silences (1993), a biography of James Earl Jones, was coauthored with the American actor.

Jennifer Niven was raised in Indiana, the setting of All the Bright Places, and attended high school at Richmond High School in Richmond, Indiana. After high school Niven attended Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, and the American Film Institute in Los Angeles.

Career and Writing

Niven wrote her first screenplay, Velva Jean Learns to Drive, in 1995. The screenplay, which was made into a short film, won an Emmy. In 2009 Niven adapted it into a novel. Two sequels followed: in 2011 Velva Jean Learns to Fly and in 2014 American Blonde. Additionally, Niven wrote the stand-alone adult novel Becoming Clementine (2012) between the second and third novels in the Velva Jean series.

Niven writes historical fiction for adults and has also written two historical nonfiction books: The Ice Master: The Doomed 1913 Voyage of the Karluk (2000) and Ada Blackjack: A True Story of Survival in the Arctic (2003). Both books are about the Arctic. Niven branched into memoir with her 2010 book, The Aqua-Net Diaries: Big Hair, Big Dreams, Small Town.

Her first novel for teen readers, All the Bright Places, was released in 2015 to strong positive response. In addition to being a New York Times bestseller, All the Bright Places was named a Best Book of the Year by Time magazine, National Public Radio (NPR), the Guardian, and Publisher's Weekly, among others. The book was nominated for the Carnegie Medal and long listed for the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize.

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