Saturday, September 22, 2012
About a week ago, I was granted the privilege of being part of a webinar interview with the amazing Hannah Harrington, along with a few other bloggers. We chatted about her new book Speechless, the writing process and other fun things!
AUTHOR INTERVIEWI bet you're wondering what I asked Hannah, and I'm delighted to share a bit of our discussion in this post!
Alexa (A): It was so cool that Chelsea's parents were actually a part of the story. I was wondering if you really made an effort to include them in the story, to keep them present?
Hannah (H): Yes, I did. One of the things I wanted when I wrote Speechless is for the character dynamics to be really different than what I wrote in Saving June. In Saving June, the characters are mostly isolated and on their own, or with their own peers. I hadn't written a character who had a more stable home life, which Chelsea is fortunate to have with her parents.
I think the adults definitely have a stronger role in Speechless, and I liked writing Chelsea's relationship with them and how they informed who she was. It's understandably tempting, when you're writing teenage stories, to sort of make the parents invisible or write them out of the way because it can be difficult to write that and still have it be interesting. But I really liked doing something different with those characters and having them involved, because I think that it's logical that any kid who's going through something like this, unless they have really awful or neglectful parents, would have parents involved and having opinions on the situation.
A: Have you ever known any secrets that you shouldn't have told, but did?
H: I actually had a pretty drama-free high school experience. I was friends with a lot of people, but I was always a little on the outside. I actually think I'm pretty good at keeping secrets. I'm sure that, at some point, I've said something, but hopefully, nothing that's too life changing or would have such serious consequences.
A: Who's an author that you've met? And who would you want to meet but haven't met yet?
H: I haven't met a lot of authors. But, last week, I had dinner with Courtney Moulton and Aimee Carter, who both write young adult. They were both really sweet.
I read David Levithan when I was growing up, and I always loved his writing. Outside of young adult authors, I'm a really big fan of Margaret Atwood. I think she's incredible. Those are two that I'd love to meet because I admire both of them really deeply.
A: And now, a question about writing - are you the kind of person that plans out your whole story before you start writing it, or are you the kind of person that just goes and writes?
H: I'm more the latter, in that I just go and write. With Saving June, before I sat down to write it, I had a pretty strong idea. I knew what the opening scene was going to be, and I was pretty sure I had an idea of how it was going to end. The middle was a little bit more on the fly.
With Speechless, I honestly just started out with an idea and, for most of the book, I really wasn't certain where it was heading. A lot of the little developments just came as I wrote.
I have found that when I outline too much, it's almost harder to go back and write, because it feels like you've already written the story in a way, so I don't outline too heavily. However, I do think it can be helpful to keep you on track, and it can be motivating to have written out where you're going next, like you're writing towards something, rather than just spewing out words that are kind of directionless.
It's a mix of both, I guess - very loose outlines, but also enough room where, if other things are developing as I'm writing, I can just go with it.
Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can’t keep a secret. Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast – and nearly got someone killed. Chelsea has taken a vow of silence – to learn to keep her mouth shut and to stop hurting anyone else.
Speechless explores the real-life teen issues of bullying, mean girls, LGBT awareness and hate crimes. Compared to the many books already out about bullies, Harrington’s novel stands out for its authentic voice and unflinching portrayal of what it means to be part of the bullying. In October 2012, Harlequin TEEN will be releasing a brand new survey that has interviewed 1,500 girls between 13-18 years old on the subject of bullying.
You can also check out this totally awesome book trailer!
LOVE IS LOUDER
One of the most interesting things I learned about during our webinar was the partnership between Harlequin TEEN and Love is Louder. This nonprofit organization began when actress Brittany Snow, MTV and the Jed Foundation decided to do something to help those feeling mistreated. Hundreds of thousands of people just like you have come together to raise the volume around the message that love and support are louder than any internal or external voice that brings you down.
One (1) winner will receive:
A branded phone skin
A copy of Speechless
All prizing provided by Harlequin.
Giveaway open to US and Canadian addresses only.