Holly Cupala wrote teen romance novels before she ever actually experienced teen romance. When she did, it became all about tragic poetry and slightly less tragic novels. When she isn't writing and contributing to readergirlz, she spends time with her husband and daughter in Seattle, Washington. These days, her writing is less about tragedy and more about hope. Tell Me A Secret is her first novel. Ten percent of the author's proceeds go toward World Vision's Hope for Sexually Exploited Girls.
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Tell Me A Secret by Holly Cupala
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Summary: It's tough living in the shadow of a dead girl. . . .In the five years since her bad-girl sister Xanda's death, Miranda Mathison has wondered about the secret her sister took to the grave, and what really happened the night she died. Now, just as Miranda is on the cusp of her dreams—a best friend to unlock her sister's world, a ticket to art school, and a boyfriend to fly her away from it all—Miranda has a secret all her own. When two lines on a pregnancy test confirm her worst fears, Miranda is stripped of her former life. She must make a choice with tremendous consequences and finally face her sister's demons and her own. In this powerful debut novel, stunning new talent Holly Cupala illuminates the dark struggle of a girl who must let go of her past to find a way into her own future.
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1) When did you first consider yourself a writer?
HC: I think from birth, it was always between writing and art. For a little while, I tried to write and illustrate picture books…very awful picture books! But I’ve always in my heart of hearts wanted to be a writer. I wrote two teen romances when I was in eighth grade, before I actually experienced teen romance! After that, I wrote tragic stories and poetry (first love was brutal), wrote for adults and then finally circled back to writing for teens. TELL ME A SECRET is my first YA.
2) What inspired you to write Tell Me a Secret?
HC: The year I started TELL ME A SECRET was a very difficult one, with two significant losses. I almost quit writing because of it. Then I went to a conference a few months later, and a friend asked if I was thinking of writing about it. All of a sudden, the entire idea came to me, just landed in my lap, and I started writing it down as fast as I could. Miranda’s story isn’t my story, though my experiences inspired a lot of the emotions. The mystery and the relationships and the secrets…those all grew organically. Some of the secrets I didn’t even know until I typed them!
3) If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in Tell Me a Secret?
HC: Well, it would have been much easier if I had known the title from the very beginning instead of the crazy process it took to find the perfect fit! It started out as Brimstone Soup (it makes sense, if you read the first draft, but it sounded paranormal)…sold it as A Light That Never Goes Out (too long and random, though there was the cool Smiths reference!)…The Darkest Light (which is…what?), What Would Xanda Do (I kind of liked that one), and about 200 other brainstorms.
Then, the night before I had to have a title for the catalogue, I was falling asleep and suddenly remembered this conversation in the first chapter between Miranda and her sister: Tell me a secret, and I’ll tell you one. I sat up, shook my husband and said, “Tell Me a Secret, honey. Tell Me a Secret!” He said, “Mnnnh.” Which I took as a good sign. Then everybody at HarperCollins loved it, and here we are!
4) If you had to describe your book in one word, what would it be and why?
HC: How about sisterssecretssuperhotsci-figuy? That’s totally cheating. Sorry! I’ll go for the obvious: Secrets! Nearly everyone has them, and they’re not necessarily what you expect. I hope readers will be excited to find out.
5) How do you feel about the cover choice for Tell Me a Secret?
HC: Is it possible to be in love with a cover? I love the cover. Love it! The design team did such a beautiful job, and it’s been really fun to create the website and other stuff to go with it.
When my editor emailed it to me, my parents and 15 year old niece, Molly, were visiting. My niece had glued herself to the couch the day before and read the novel in one sitting, and when I got the email, I gasped! Everyone ran in and gasped, too! Molly said, “It’s perfect.”
6) Do you have any other projects you're currently working on?
HC: My editor just officially accepted YA book #2 (tentatively titled STREET CREED)! I’m really excited about it—a suburban girl, the streets of Seattle, secrets, homeless kids, an amazing boy, and lots to learn about love. It comes out in the fall of 2011.
7) What do you like to do when you're not writing?
HC: When I’m not spending time with my husband and daughter, you can find me at readergirlz, where I’m teamed up with a bunch of amazing, award-winning YA authors to connect readers with their favorite authors. We feature a different YA author each month, like Meg Cabot, Scott Westerfeld, Sara Dessen—I’ll be the featured author in August. I hope you’ll stop by!
8) What book are you currently reading?
HC:You mean the giant To-Be-Read pile by the side of my bed? :-)
Here are just a few: INTO THE WILD NERD YONDER by Julie Halpern, FOR THE WIN by Cory Doctorow (I am totally a sci-fi nerd at heart), TANGLED by Carolyn Mackler, THE TIMEKEEPER’S MOON by Joni Sensel. I love reading funny or courageous characters with heart.
9) Do you have anything to say to all your readers?
HC: Absolutely! Thank you for reading TELL ME A SECRET – I hope you enjoy the story as well as all of the secrets…and I hope you enjoy all of the hidden things I planted into the writing of it—sci-fi, book, and music references, secret links, and the title of my favorite novel by Italo Calvino (hint: it has to do with destinies)!
10) Tell us something about yourself that no one knows about.
HC: I think eschatology (the study of the end of the world) is really fascinating. Someday I’d kind of like to write something apocalyptic, or maybe the other way around—the origins of life, the beginning and the end. Hmm, now you’ve got me thinking…