INTERVIEW+GIVEAWAY from YA Author Trisha Leaver (interview by Cuyler Creech)
This author, rightly referred to by some as the ‘Queen of the Reveal’, is so good at building tension, both exciting and terrifying, it is a feat just prying your eyes from the page. With her upcoming YA contemporary, THE SECRETS WE KEEP, the Queen definitely keeps her title.
This is a story about sisters, twins cut from different cloths, whose lives change drastically: one by death and another with lies and deceit. Ella, an artistic wallflower, wakes up in the hospital after a horrific car accident with her loved ones calling her by another name: Maddy, her ever-popular sister who now lies dead in the morgue with “Ella” on the corpse’s name tag. Overcome with grief and confusion, Ella takes a dark and twisted plunge and assumes the life of her dead sister, donning Maddy’s life to keep her name alive while everyone Ella knows thinks she’s the one who’s six feet below ground.
THE SECRETS WE KEEP is a book who truly earns the title “gripping,” and refused to be put down until the very last page.
Here’s what are people saying about THE SECRETS WE KEEP:
“Trisha Leaver crafts a powerful and haunting novel that will keep you up long after you read the last page. Full of twists and turns and FEELS, this book questions how far a person will go for her family . . . even if it means losing herself.” – Lynne Matson, author of NIL.
Haunting and beautiful, THE SECRETS WE KEEP, is a gripping, evocative examination of siblings’ complex relationships. It compels us to question what we know, or think we know, about our loved ones and–most of all–ourselves. ~Karen Rock, Award-winning YA author and co-writer of the bestselling CAMP BOYFRIEND series.
“The love and loss of a twin sister leads to a powerfully complex and heart-wrenching journey of self-discovery. The depth and complexity of Ella grows on each page, and I soon found myself immersed in her personal struggle. She is so fully developed that her seemingly unbelievable choice is not only believable, but completely understandable.” —Scott Blagden, author of Dear Life, You Suck.
Want to hear from the Queen of the Reveal herself? Check out this interview with Trisha Leaver and the TLT team:
At what point did you want to become a writer?
I’ve never considered myself a writer, more of a chronic daydreamer. When I was in elementary school, I used to dream up alternate endings to my favorite books or reimagine how the story would play-out if my “real-life” friends were in those situations. I still do that today. I can’t walk into an airport or a crowded coffee shop without wondering about the lives of the strangers surrounding me. Are they in love? Did they just have an argument with their girlfriend? Did they make the baseball team? Are they happier on stage or in the tech crew? No matter where I am or what I am doing, I can’t seem to turn that creative side of my brain off.
As for when I actively made the decision to become a writer, well technically, I owe that one to my seventh grade English teacher, Sister Yvonne. She was constantly redirecting me, pulling me out of my daydreams and back to whatever grammar lesson she was teaching that day. (Hmm… it was probably about cumulative commas, which may explain why I still, to this day, have a problem with them LOL) Anyhow, she got tired of me constantly zoning out and called me out in the middle of class, told me I had two options: I could take a detention for not paying attention or I could write down “whatever had my brain so occupied.” I took door number two and have been sketching out stories ever since.
What is your favorite genre to read? Write?
My favorite genre to write, hands down, is YA Contemporary. It’s not that I don’t enjoy a good fanged monster, and I am in awe of those crazy talented writers who can create fantastically magical words, but for me, it is all about the here and now.
When it comes to reading, however, you more often than not will find me curled up with a good historical fiction. I think because I spend so much time in the contemporary world, that being transported to a different era is like a mind-vacation for me. My current fascination is with the Tudor dynasty, and I am constantly scouring the library and bookstores for historical fiction from that time period.
Who are your literary influences?
On the horror side, I guess I would say I am a huge fan of Robert McCammon. I’ve pretty much read everything Kurt Vonnegut has ever written, although SLAUGHTER HOUSE FIVE still ranks as my favorite. And Edward Gorey…wow he is just an artistic genius. I think reading so much of their work while I was a teenager may be why my writing tends to lean towards the darker side, favoring characters who make all the wrong decisions for all the right reasons.
What is your writing process like? (outlining, schedule, etc.)
Outline!?! What’s an outline? No, seriously, I would probably fork over half my life savings to anyone who could teach me how to effectively outline. I have tried. I’ve taken writer’s workshops on it, downloaded sample story maps, even tried reverse-outlining my existing manuscripts in the hope of leaning the process. And still… I can’t do it. I find the whole process suffocating. I don’t like to be boxed into a specific path, and my writing seems to suffer when I try to do that. But that doesn’t mean I am a complete panster either. When I start a book, I have a solid feel of the mc’s plight, her strengths and weakness, and how the setting will work against her. I also have a vague idea of where I want the book to end, both emotionally and physically. What’s creatively open is everything in the middle. Those chapters are built off the previous day’s writing with the characters literally driving the plot.
What I am locked into, however, is a writing schedule. I thrive on deadlines. Toss me down a hard and fast commitment date, and I will flourish. On average, I spend about 6-7 hours a day doing something writing related. I may be editing, making copy-edits, or creating new content, but I try to get a solid six hours of writing in a day.
What is your must-have writing fuel?
Chocolate covered expresso beans. They are tiny, crunchy bits of caffeine smothered in chocolate. I eat them like Tic Tacs – a handful at a time!
Where do most of your ideas come from?
Dreams. Every single one of my manuscripts stemmed from one of my dreams…or more accurately, nightmares. I only dream in black and white, (I know, odd but…) and even though my dreams lack color, they are insanely vivid. I can wake at two in the morning and describe the smells of the factory my subconscious had tossed me in to, the texture of the concrete walls, and the feel of the cold, damp floorboards beneath my feet. It is all right there as if I dragged those details into the waking world with me.
Do you write full-time? If no, what do you also do, and if yes, what did you do before you became a full-time writer?
I have three kids, so I write full time when they are in school. Summers and school vacations can get a bit hairy, but luckily my kids are older so they spend more time with their friends, playing sports, or working on the school play then they do at home. It is a balance, a delicate balance that is in a constant state of flux.
Before I was a writer (or a mom) I was a social worker in the juvenile justice system. It was a heart-wrenching job, and although I got to see some of the darker shades of life, I also got to witness some of the most amazing displays of courage, strength and recovery.
Being a writer involves a lot of creativity. Any other creative hobbies?
I inadvertently gave up a lot of my hobbies when I started writing full time. I vowed to change that in 2015. I love to play the piano. It’s been over three years since I actually sat down and played, but my son has recently showed an interest in learning and his enthusiasm has transferred to me.
I have an herb garden that I’m religious about. It seems kind of ridiculous since I am a horrible cook. (You want a Crème Brule or a chocolate pecan pie and I am your girl. Ask me to cook you a meatloaf, and I fail every time) I dry the herbs and give them out as gifts each year to my friends. I like grow them, they like to cook with them so in the end, it all works out.
Any advice to young/aspiring creators of any kind out there?
We are our own worst enemies. Self-doubt and fear will wiggle its way into your mind and stall you if given the chance. Trust your instincts, be bold, and challenge the norm. Create bravely!
And now for the Giveaway!
We have a signed ARC that we are giving away generously donated by Trish. To be entered to win please leave a comment below and include a Twitter handle or email address so we can get a hold of you if you win, or do the Rafflecopter thingy. Hint: There’s 1 Free Entry just for doing the Rafflecopter thingy. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents until Saturday, January 31st at Midnight.
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Filed under: New Releases
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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