March 8, 2010

Interview with Jennifer Hubbard

Jennifer Hubbard is a Philadelphia area writer, who debuted in January as a YA author with THE SECRET YEAR. Despite being new in the YA scene, she's been published for awhile and frequently shares her writing insights on her lj. So read on and get to know the woman behind the fabulous novel.


Book Cover

1. THE SECRET YEAR contains a forbidden romance, but not the kind seen in many YA books currently on the shelves. However, the class difference between Colt and Julia is both timely and classic. Why did you decide to write about a secret relationship? Did the story always begin after Julia's death, or did you originally try to tell it in a more conventional manner?

The book always began where it begins now. The situation of a secret relationship, a death, and a notebook left behind was in my head from the beginning. I wrote the book to find out why it had to be secret and what would happen next.

2. Your first publications were literary short stories. What are some of the main differences between writing a literary short and a YA novel? Are there any other forms you'd like to write?

For me, the biggest difference between short stories and novels is the fact that novels need subplots. It’s difficult to manage multiple plot threads, to interweave them without having the subplots take over or distract the reader.

3. In your Nov. 24th blog post, you mentioned the need to know romantic couples' interests outside of each other. It's come up in some of my recent reviews, particularly those for the uber-popular paranormal forbidden romance. What are some of Colt and Julia's interests? What sort of things did you know about the characters that didn't make it into THE SECRET YEAR?

They both like the river; they like spending time outdoors. In fact, that’s how they meet. They have a similar sense of humor. They’re both interested in the world beyond their town, although Julia has traveled more than Colt has.

I know much more about Julia’s family—her parents, how she and Michael get along—than appears in the book. I know much more about Austin—how he felt about Julia, how much he knew (or didn’t know) about her secrets, how he reacted to her death and to the Quill incident. There’s a minor Black Mountain character called Tristan Allen whom we barely see in the finished book, but I know a lot about him. I’d almost like to give him his own book. The same is true of Jackie, Colt’s first girlfriend, who barely appears in the book.

4. What about you? Clearly, you can't spend all of your time writing, blogging, filling out interviews for the adoring masses. What are some of your interests? What do you like to do to relax after a stressful day?

Hiking is my favorite non-writing activity. I also love to read, and I enjoy the occasional concert.

5. In your lj, you often post about the nuts and bolts of writing. You've clearly put thought into how you approach your craft. What is your most annoying weakness as a writer? Not necessarily your worst weakness, but a bad habit that you know you have and can't seem to break.

My first drafts are light on description: characters floating in space, no setting. The characters often don’t reveal their motivations to me in early drafts; it’s a long hard revision process to scrape down to the meaty stuff.

6. THE SECRET YEAR has been out in the wild for more than a month now. Have there been any surprising reactions? What are your plans now that you've made your debut?

It has surprised me how often people comment on the male narrator, and that male narrators have become so uncommon in YA books.

My plans are to keep writing, as I always have. I hope to have more contemporary YA novels come out into the world!

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