The rumors are true – I do have a girl crush on Sarah Rees Brennan. I can’t help it, I like people who make me laugh and she cracks me up. Her latest book, Unspoken is a great mix of humor, suspense, hot boys and a strong willed female lead…which is every thing I want in my paranormal stories. Just read the interview, you will understand why I love her books.
I have to say, your books are the only ones that have me laughing my butt off one minute and biting my nails the next. How do you find the right combination of humor and suspense?
Aw. Thank you so much!
I think I just see humour as an essential ingredient to all books. Some books need lots, some books need less (Unspoken needed lots): all books need some. I don’t really want to hang out with people who have no sense of humour, and that includes fictional people. I always say you have to make me laugh before I’ll care enough to cry.
And I love a mystery, so I think of a mystery, and what kind of mystery it is, and what kind of people are involved in it… and I add the essential humour to suit the tone.
Well, that’s what I try to do. Admittedly, as with cooking, some people are going to be like ‘TOO MUCH SARAH, TOO MUCH!’ (Can there ever be such a thing as too much pepper? I think not, but studies seem to indicate… maybe yes.)
One thing I adore about your writing is the fact that it is paranormal, but it doesn’t follow the same trend/arc like others. For one, the characters act appropriately to hearing the “big news”. Was this intentional or are your characters not as screwed up in the head as others?
Oh, gosh. I think the answer is… I am a weirdo.
Um, I accidentally write off-kilter books. I would love everyone to love my books, so I’d love to write ‘on trend’ but I have an idea, and then I think ‘hey, I think someone would react this way’ or ‘if this usually happens, wouldn’t it be cool if it happened THIS way instead?’
I also think it’s fun to invert tropes: to have a reader thinking ‘this is the way it’s going to go, this is the kind of story I’m reading’ and then to surprise them… that’s extra fun.
Basically, I’ll spin you right round, baby, right round, like a record baby… and hope you like it!
Is there something more to Angela’s family? It seems like with her napping and her brothers insistent need for safety there is more to their story.
We’ll certainly be seeing a lot more of Angela, Kami’s BFF, and her brother Rusty, in the next two books, and getting lots more insights into them!
I will admit, there’s always some of myself in characters, and Angela and Rusty’s eternal sleepiness is me, in the mornings, moaning faintly ‘Caffeine. Caffeine or death.’
I’m not saying I’d hold someone’s sweet helpless kitten hostage for a cup of tea before eleven a.m., but… I’m not making any kitten promises.
Did the mothers assume that if Kami/Jared ignored each other they would eventually lose the connection?
For those who haven’t read Unspoken, the mothers of the characters involved in a psychical bond know about their bond, and are hiding from their children the fact their imaginary friends are real for… their own reasons…
I don’t think that the mothers denying the connection had anything to do with real hope: it was mostly about fear, and wanting to pretend the connection away. Jared’s mother Rosalind is on the run from the people in and the memories of her past life, and doesn’t want her hometown following her.
Kami’s mother Claire feels guilty about something she’s done in the past, and is scared that it will come out and spoil the life she has now, the life she wants.
I wanted to say, with this plotline: that your parents are people with their own secret lives, sometimes deeply hurt and damaged people, and that this can really affect you… but it isn’t your fault. Sometimes the way your parents make you feel is their issue, and not yours.
Plus I like the parents to be involved in their kids’ lives, and a backstory full of SECRETS.
In all of your books that I have read, you have these very unique unconventional male characters that the reader is drawn to – like Nick, Alan and Jared. What inspiration do you draw from to make them flawed but lovable?
I’ve never known anyone lovable who wasn’t flawed. 😉
I love complicated dudes with good senses of humour. I love liars, like Howl from Diana Wynne Jones’s Howl’s Moving Castle, Gen from Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series. I love characters who make mistakes, and characters who love other people very much and are sometimes the worst at showing it.
I also like surprising people as I may have mentioned, and so I like to think about the type of characters that I feel we see a lot of, and then think, well, what’s a turn I haven’t seen before? Such as, let us take the boy with the rough edges who is always getting in trouble… and think, well, wow, why is that guy always good with the ladies? What if, in fact, he had no game and had never been kissed? (Yes, I am a genius, I’m like ‘a romantic hero… with no game.’ This is why they pay me the big bucks…)
I come up with characters, starting out with a spark that interests me and how they fit into the story, and then I try to understand the characters completely. Once I understand them I love them–and then I try to show readers how they are, in my head, and hope they will come to love them too. (Gosh there is a lot of hoping in these answers! But that’s what writing is, I think: hoping other people will come listen as you tell stories, hoping they will find something about the stories to carry away with them when they go.)
Can you describe the next book in 3 words?
Making. Out. (Furiously!)
I’m not kidding: I always say trilogies go, book 1, set up, book 2, make out, book 3, defeat evil. (Think of the Lord of the Rings.) You set the stage–you complicate the stage by having people act, act out, amp up their feelings, change loyalties–you bring the curtain down. It is a system, and the system works.