Hey everyone! I’m really excited to have Brenna Yovanoff here for an interview as part of the Places No One Knows (May 17, 2016 – Delacorte Press) blog tour! First, here’s more about the book:
Waverly Camdenmar spends her nights running until she can’t even think. Then the sun comes up, life goes on, and Waverly goes back to her perfectly hateful best friend, her perfectly dull classes, and the tiny, nagging suspicion that there’s more to life than student council and GPAs.
Marshall Holt is a loser. He drinks on school nights and gets stoned in the park. He is at risk of not graduating, he does not care, he is no one. He is not even close to being in Waverly’s world.
But then one night Waverly falls asleep and dreams herself into Marshall’s bedroom—and when the sun comes up, nothing in her life can ever be the same. In Waverly’s dreams, the rules have changed. But in her days, she’ll have to decide if it’s worth losing everything for a boy who barely exists.
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Question: Describe your book in ten words or less. Go!
Answer: Girl who doesn’t sleep magically winds up in stoner’s bedroom!
Question: Places No One Knows sounds fascinating! How did the idea for the plot come about?
Answer: Okay, so I am a huge insomniac and for a long time I knew that I wanted to write a book about insomnia, even if it wasn’t ABOUT-about insomnia. I also knew I wanted to write the kind of love story I would have wanted to read as a teenager, back when I was cynical and over analytical and very, very picky about my love stories. I’ve always been really fascinated and kind of appalled by the way different emotions are often so heavily gendered. As a culture I think we have a tendency to deny or trivialize anger in girls and sadness in boys, and I wanted to explore the idea that even though people can get pretty good at making their “inappropriate” emotions invisible, or at least making them look like other things, that doesn’t stop people from feeling them. Waverly is a character who is very angry, very alienated, but doesn’t feel like she has any real outlet to express that. And for Marshall, in some ways he has it even harder because he’s very sensitive in ways that are really discouraged for boys, and so he’s spent a lot of middle school and high school trying to not to feel those things, and failing that, to at least not let them show. Mostly? I wanted to just get these two people in a room together and see what they could offer each other.
Question: Why do you think readers are so fascinated with dream worlds – and dreams in general?
Answer: While I can’t speak specifically for other readers, I LOVE thinking about and having and reading about dreams. I’m not only a very vivid dreamer but I actually have this thing where I’ll wake up and still be dreaming, so when I open my eyes, my room will be populated with impossible things—birds and vines and monsters and people who want to talk to me about nonsensical ideas or tell me where I left something I misplaced. This has happened to me for most of my life, so at this point it seems very normal, but also kind of magical. I think dream worlds are fascinating because they’re an example of how well our brains can make the imaginary feel completely REAL.
Question: What scene from Places No One Knows do you most regret having to cut?
Answer: Places No One Knows is a rarity among my books, in that almost every scene I included in the first draft made it into the final version intact. HOWEVER. There is one scene I really, really liked and it was completely static and advanced the plot not at all and was basically fanfiction, but written by me-the-author. And my editor, who is both astute and patient, kept gently reminding me to cut it for … pretty much every single draft. And because she is persistent and always right about these things, I eventually listened to her. Eventually. So all I’m going to say is, if anyone wants to write a fic where Waverly and Marshall snuggle in a baseball dugout and talk about their feelings? You have all my blessings. And also I may have already done it once.
Question: Places No One Knows has been on shelves for a few weeks now! What’s the post-publication process like for you? Do you take time off to regroup or dive right into your next project?
Answer: Post-publication, I tend to sort of melt into the couch, play a lot of video games, and cook all the things I like to eat, and try to remember to clean all the things I wasn’t cleaning before, and just generally be more of a human-shaped person. For awhile. Until writing swoops in and takes over my brain again.
Question: You’ve written several books for young adults. How is this one different?
Answer: So, this is my fifth YA novel, and the very first one that has no monsters! It still has a little bit of magic in it, but only a little, and only in this very amorphous, metaphorical way—so even though the whole plot basically revolves around impossible dream-travel, this is definitely the most contemporary book I’ve ever written.
Question: Craziest thing you’ve had to Google for a work in progress?
Answer: Okay, I have Googled a lot of terrible things, but no lie, this is probably the worst one: when I was writing The Replacement, I spent a whole afternoon trying to figure out at what stage of decomposition insect eggs laid inside a fresh corpse will hatch into larva. With pictures.
Question: What books would you recommend to a reader who loved Places No One Knows, and wants to read something similar?
Answer: Honestly, I would really love it if everyone in the world went out and read Fly on the Wall by E. Lockhart. It’s a strange, magical story about a strange, analytical girl named Gretchen Yee, who is mysteriously transformed into an actual housefly and spends a week buzzing around the boys’ locker room at school. It’s very cool and funny, very smart about body image and gender roles and masculinity, and if everybody reads it, then I’ll have someone to talk about it with!
Question: What are three must-have items when you sit down to write?
Answer: Hot drinks, headphones, and preferably a big cozy chair.
Question: Are you working on anything new?
Answer: I’m currently in the middle of another book in the mostly-contemporary/slightly-magical vein of Places No One Knows. It’s about idealism, misanthropy, and the ongoing struggle to become your best self. It has no title yet because I’m terrible with titles, but I’m almost 100% positive it will have one by the time it comes out next year!
About the author:
Hi, I’m Brenna Yovanoff. I write young adult and speculative fiction. My young adult fantasy novels The Replacement, The Space Between, Paper Valentine, and Fiendish are available from Razorbill/Penguin Group. Here are some things about me (not book-related):
I’m good at soccer, violent video games, and making very flaky pie pastry.
I’m bad at dancing, making decisions, and inspiring confidence as an authority figure. I suspect this is because I am short, and also terrible at sounding as though I have any idea what I’m talking about.
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