author Crescendo and Hush, Hush
Ten Terrifying Questions
1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself -where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
I was born in Ogden, Utah. My dad worked for the Union Pacific Railroad, so I spent my childhood in small towns all over the West. Rawlins, Wyoming. North Platte, Nebraska. Centerville, Utah. Pocatello, Idaho. All of these places have brutal winters, and I keep telling myself one of these days I’m going to live somewhere temperate. But you know what? I wouldn’t go back and change a thing. I had a very happy childhood. I went to college at Brigham Young University, and even though I spent those years longing to be a spy, I graduated in health. Please don’t tell my mom, but I picked the major because it didn’t require many credits. I finished my major in three quick semesters.
At twelve, I wanted to be a marine biologist. This probably had something to do with living in Nebraska and being completely landlocked. For Christmas, my grandparents gave me plane tickets to fly to California and go whale-watching, and my uncle and aunt adopted a humpback whale under my name. I was completely and utterly enchanted by the sea. At eighteen, I wanted to be a spy. I thought being an undercover agent would be sexy and dangerous. I applied multiple times to the C.I.A., but they never called. Their loss! At thirty…well, that was last year, and I can honestly say I was doing the very thing I wanted to be doing—writing!
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
Maybe I matured quickly, but all of the beliefs I held strongly at eighteen I still hold today. Dreaming big, work ethic, integrity and destiny. I will say, however, that at eighteen I wanted to marry a Heathcliff. I’m very happy to say I ended up marrying a total Boy Scout and I don’t have to put up with any Byronic mood swings!
I’m going to choose three books from my childhood. Nancy Drew, A Wrinkle in Time and Wuthering Heights. I didn’t realize it while I was writing Hush, Hush, but Nancy Drew and my main character Nora Grey have a lot in common. They both live in single-parent homes, are raised by housekeepers, have a flirtatious and curvy blond best friend, and both girls have an older boyfriend. A Wrinkle in Time begins with the line, “It was a dark and stormy night.” As a child, I used to write stories that all began with that same line, and I haven’t outgrown it. All of my published stories begin in a storm, and I think there’s something ominous and inherently suspenseful about that. Finally, Wuthering Heights. I couldn’t care less that original reviews of the book were abominable or that there are still people today who believe the story is demented, the characters unlikeable, and that the book shouldn’t be taught in high school literature classes. I think the story is a masterpiece, and out of all the books I read in high school, is the only one I’ve returned to again and again.
5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?
I don’t ever remember sitting down and saying, “I’m going to write a novel.” I began writing Hush, Hush in 2003 when my husband surprised me by enrolling me in a writing class for my birthday. There I was, in a class filled with ambitious writers brimming with ideas, and I didn’t have a story. I defaulted to writing about my own high school experiences, and Hush, Hush was born.
6. Please tell us about your latest novel…
Crescendo, the sequel to Hush, Hush, continues Patch and Nora’s story. Nora has fallen in love with her bad boy angel, but things aren’t looking up. The more Nora investigates her father’s murder, the more she believes Patch was involved…
(BBGuru: Publisher says – Her guardian angel, her first and only love. Can she count on him or is he hiding secrets darker than she can even imagine?
Nora should have known her life was far from perfect. Despite starting a relationship with her guardian angel, Patch (who, title aside, can be described as anything but angelic), and surviving an attempt on her life, things are not looking up. Patch is starting to pull away and Nora can’t figure out if it’s for her best interest or if his interest has shifted to her arch-enemy, Marcie Millar. Not to mention that Nora is haunted by images of her father and she becomes obsessed with finding out what really happened to him that night he left for Portland and never came home.
The further Nora delves into the mystery of her father’s death, the more she comes to question if her Nephilim bloodline has something to do with it as well as why she seems to be in danger more than the average girl. Since Patch isn’t answering her questions and seems to be standing in her way, she has to start finding the answers on her own. Relying too heavily on the fact that she has a guardian angel puts Nora at risk again and again. But can she really count on Patch or is he hiding secrets darker than she can even imagine?)
7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?
I hope I rob them of a good night’s sleep! Mean, right? But I love it when readers tell me, “I stayed up until three in the morning to finish the book—I couldn’t put it down.” That tells me I’ve done my job.
Laurie Halse Anderson. It was her book, Speak, that made me fall in love with young adult literature. I thought if every YA book could be even half that good, I’d found my new favourite genre. Speak also confirmed that I wanted to write books for teens.
9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
Stephen Covey wouldn’t like my goals. They’re very vague. Right now my goal is to be happy with who I am and where I’m going. At the end of the day, if I feel I’ve accomplished a lot, laughed a lot, given back, and spent enough time with my family and friends, then I know I’m moving in the right direction.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Keep a journal. You never know when your own life experiences will inspire a story. And read – it’s brain candy.
Becca, thank you for playing.
About the Contributor
John Purcell (aka Natasha Walker) is the author of The Secret Lives of Emma trilogy published by Random House Australia. The Secret Lives of Emma: Beginnings reached the top ten on the Australian fiction charts and Natasha/John was the tenth highest selling Australian novelist and third highest selling Australian debut author in 2012. The trilogy has since sold over 50,000 copies in print and ebook and has been translated into French and Polish. John has worked in the book industry for the last twenty years. While still in his twenties he opened John’s Bookshop, a second-hand bookshop in Mosman in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Now he is the Head of Product and Chief Buyer at booktopia.com.au.