Friday, February 24, 2012

Interview with Holly Cupala!

Today, I am so excited to interview one of my all-time favorite authors, Holly Cupala. She's the author of Tell Me a Secret and the newly released Don't Breathe a Word, which is now one of my all-time favorite books. You can read my review of Don't Breathe a Word here and check the the wonderful trailer here.Link
Enjoy the interview and be sure to leave your thoughts below!

Hello, Harmony, and thank you for inviting me to your blog!

What was the inspiration for DON'T BREATHE A WORD? Did you do any research about teen homelessness?
I’ve heard it takes two ideas to spark a story, and that was true for DBAW. I keep a writing notebook, and years ago I wrote down “girl who fakes being homeless.” She was going to be maybe a cheerleader by day and fake being on the streets after school. Of course it was a ridiculous idea, but I wrote it down anyway. Then my friend Jack, a youth pastor, put out a call for socks and toiletries to take to the homeless teens in Seattle, and suddenly I had an idea for a girl who runs away for real. Creed and Santos and May kind of came all at once, so vividly. I went home and wrote a fifteen page synopsis of the story.

I didn’t know if my ideas would fit with the reality of teen homelessness, so I did a lot of independent research, talked to people, took a class at New Horizons (the homeless teen org in the book), and asked my friend Pam Longston, the board president at New Ho’s (that’s what the homeless kids call it) to read the story. I was really surprised when the ideas I already had for the story (like street names, ideas of justice, and banding together for family and protection) were confirmed by real life.

Music plays a pretty big role in DON'T BREATHE A WORD. (Gotta love boys with guitars!) Pick a theme song for each of the main characters and one for the novel itself.Link
I have to say I Linklove Creed. I’m so glad you do, too! After TMAS, I really wanted to create a character who was honorable, courageous, and worthy. And who happens to be a genius musician. ;)
Joy: Deserter, by Splashdown. (listen here)
Creed: I Will Follow You into the Dark, Death Cab for Cutie (video here)
May: Something of an End, My Brightest Diamond. (listen here)LinkSantos: Street Spirit (Fadeout), Radiohead (video here)
One for the novel…oh, that’s so hard! All of the above songs and more, because each captures a different moment. If I had to choose one, maybe it would be You’re Not Alone, Saosin (video here).

Both of your books deal with serious subjects. Was one harder to write than the other? Why or why not?
TMAS was an enormous challenge—in part because it came out of a personal loss in my own life, and also because I was fighting all of the personal demons telling me I couldn’t possibly write, finish, or publish a novel. In some ways DBAW was easier, but then I still had to delve into the core of that story and where it came from (I wrote about my own abusive relationship in DEAR BULLY: 70 AUTHORS TELL THEIR STORIES). There are no emotional shortcuts, unfortunately!

What are you working on now?
I’m writing a third novel now, and it’s very intense—highly emotional and suspenseful and hopeful. It’s about four different characters, each with buried secrets, and a murder that brings them all together in one gigantic twist…

DON'T BREATHE A WORD deals with a lot of serious topics, from teen homelessness to drug usage to abusive relationships. Do you have any advice for your readers who may be in one of these situations or any organizations you would like to point them towards for help? Also, how can readers get involved in the fight against teen homelessness?
One thing I learned that really struck me during my research was that wanting to leave bad habits is not a motivation to quit—finding purpose and meaning is. One better choice can make the difference between a hopeful outcome and a grim one.

There are some wonderful organizations, both locally and nationally, to help teens in abusive or dangerous situations:Link

The National Runaway Hotline, 1-800-RUNAWAY, is dedicated to helping teens stay safe and off the streets. Link
is such a great site with info on relationship warning signs and getting help, and they launched a dating abuse hotline: 1-866-331-9474 or text “loveis” to 77054.

Glamour Magazine launched the Tell Somebody campaign, including 10 Surprising Warning Signs You’re Dating an Abusive Guy.

How can you help?

Begin in your neighborhood, as Joy does. Look for opportunities to give toiletries and essentials, or volunteer in a teen sLinkhelter. If you have a friend in trouble, you may be more important than you know. Encourage your friend to find help. True friendship shines through adversity, and there is hope on the other side.

Thanks, Holly! I hope my readers will check out those great links you provided. Be sure to check out Holly's website and the official Don't Breathe a Word site. You can also read the first two chapters of DBAW here. (Though be warned that it's going to make you want to buy the book right away!)

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