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31 Days of Authors: an interview with Becca Fitzpatrick, author of Crescendo (a 2011 Teens’ Top Ten Winner)

Teen Read Week was October 16th through the 22nd, but here at The Hub, we’re celebrating all month long with 31 Days of Authors. On each day in October, we’ll bring you exclusive author interviews and profiles plus reflections on what YALSA-recognized books have meant to us. Today we feature PART TWO of a two-part post about Becca Fitzpatrick, whose book Crescendo is #3 on this year’s Teens’ Top Ten list. (Read part one)

Let me start by congratulating you on being nominated by teens for your place on the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) Teens’ Top Ten winners list for 2011! How does it feel to be picked with authors like Cassandra Clare, James Patterson, Ally Condy, and Andrea Cremer for this honor? Anything you would like to say specifically to fans of your series, particularly the teens that nominated you and helped you win your place in the Top Ten for the year?

Thank you! It’s such an honor to be included in the Teens’ Top Ten–there is no better list to be on. It’s a “teens’ choice” list where teens and teens alone nominate their favorite books. I’d like to say THANK YOU to everyone who voted for Crescendo!

The young adult field of literature is glutted with series about witches, werewolves, and vampires. I love those series like the next person, but I appreciate some variety in my reading experience, and your saga about Angels and Nephilim really fits the bill. How did you come up with the idea for your compelling and utterly addictive Hush, Hush saga? Did it start in your journals? What kind of research did you do? Do you think “angel lore” is/could be the next big thing in YA fiction?

When I first started writing Hush, Hush I knew Patch was a bad boy, but with a twist. He had been a really moral person at one point, and something caused him to fall from grace. It wasn’t until later that the metaphor of falling became something literal in my head, and I realized he was a fallen angel.

I wrote almost obsessively in my diary when I was a teen, and I often use those memories to jump-start my muse. The first scene I wrote in Hush, Hush was actually based on something that happened to me in high school. My bio teacher actually asked me the same embarrassing question during our unit on reproduction that Coach asked Nora–the one about listing the characteristics she’d want in a mate. The rest of the story grew from that.

As far as research goes, I grew up attending Sunday School every week and hearing stories from the Bible, so I was comfortable writing about angels. I let them come from inside me, shaped by my life experiences and creativity.

What does your writing process look like? When I write/journal, I need either a steady stream of music in the background or the happy “white noise” of some predictable TV programs (e.g., Law & Order). What puts you in the best mood for writing? What makes writing “difficult?”

I like writing in silence. I usually do it at night or when my kids are at school. Noise makes writing challenging!

I was always an avid reader, but the first book I remember really blowing me away as a child was Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. What authors/books inspired you as a child, and also now as an adult? How about a personal top 5 authors and/or books for 2011 (thus far)?

One of Becca Fitzpatrick's favorite books growing up
My favorite book as a child was Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Growing up I loved Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, Night by Elie Wiesel, Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume, and The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. It’s really hard to narrow it down, there are so many great books. Some of my favorite authors are Laurie Halse Anderson, Ally Condie, Kristin Cashore, and Diana Gabaldon.

Some favorites from 2011: We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han, Blood Red Road by Moira Young, Shine by Lauren Myracle, Sean Griswold’s Head by Lindsey Leavitt and Wither by Lauren DeStefano.

Your characters like Nora, Patch, and Vee… do they evolve organically as you flesh out the story, or do you base them on people in your own life? I personally think the “best friend” dynamic between Nora and Vee particularly rings true, as does the chemistry between Nora and Patch…

Thank you, I really enjoy writing the scenes with Nora and Vee. Vee’s character was inspired by two of my childhood friends. They were reckless and boy-crazy, and convinced me to do things I never ever would have done on my own.

So, yes, some of the characters are based on people I knew in school. As I mentioned earlier, when I started writing Hush, Hush, I wasn’t thinking about writing a book. I was just taking experiences from my own high school years, twisting them around a bit, and putting them on paper.

The graphic novelization of Hush, Hush
I am a huge fan of manga and graphic novels, and was pretty excited to see that there will be a graphic novel starting from the beginning of the series (with special extras!) coming out soon. What was it like translating your work to a graphic format? What role did you have in the process? Will there be graphic novels to cover the full saga, or just a part of it?

It has been very exciting. Sea Lion are publishing the Hush, Hush graphic novel and they have been really great to work with. In the early stages, there was quite a bit of back and forth as I provided character and setting descriptions to Jennyson Rosero (the artist) and he, in turn, translated my input into sketches. The first graphic novel will be 120 pages. The first novel, Hush, Hush, will be adapted into three graphic novels. After that we’ll have to wait and see what happens!

I’m just about to read the third book in the saga, Silence, and imagine my delight in discovering that you decided to turn this once-trilogy into a 4-book saga with the fourth book coming out in Fall 2012 (fans everywhere rejoice!). What can readers expect from the final half of the saga? Are you sure you don’t want to add a fifth book to the saga?

I’m sure that the fourth will be the last. While writing Silence I realized I wasn’t going to be able to wrap up Patch and Nora’s story quite yet. I wanted to write a book set during Cheshvan, since it plays such an important role in the series. You can expect to see a final showdown between fallen angels and Nephilim, with Patch and Nora forced onto opposing sides. The only question now is, which race will survive?

Fans of the series, myself included, want to know if we can expect to find a movie in the works anytime soon. Any thoughts about what your dream cast would be?

Currently there are no plans for a movie. But, movie casting is probably one of the things I am asked about most often. It’s really hard to pick just one for each, and unfortunately, I feel like a lot of the actors I’d choose are now too old to play the roles.

What projects do you have coming up after the conclusion of the Hush, Hush saga?

I am planning a YA psychological thriller set in the Teton mountains of Wyoming.

One last question, just for fun. If you could have a cup of tea and conversation with any person–real or imaginary, alive or dead–who would it be, and what burning questions might you ask Personally, I would love to sit down with Jane Goodall and talk about the important of conservation, passionate youth, and mothers. Or maybe just a table full of all my favorite heroines’ “charismatic” love interests (e.g., Patch, Peetna, Ren). They’d be a quiet bunch no doubt, but very easy on the eyes will I enjoyed my mint herbal tea. You?

I was recently in England and had my first afternoon tea–it was so glamorous and fancy! I’d love to sit down with one of my ancestors and get some insight into my family history. I have an album filled with old photographs, but no names and no written history. I am here today because of those courageous men and women, and I’d love to know them better.

— Nicole Dolat, currently reading Matched by Ally Condie (by candlelight since the power’s out!)

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  1. […] Teen Read Week was October 16th through the 22nd, but here at The Hub, we’re celebrating all month long with 31 Days of Authors. On each day in October, we’ll bring you exclusive author interviews and profiles plus reflections on what YALSA-recognized books have meant to us. Today we feature PART ONE of a two-part post about Becca Fitzpatrick, whose book Crescendo is #3 on this year’s Teens’ Top Ten list. (Read part two) […]

  2. Viki S. Viki S.

    Thanks for the great interview. After reading SILENCE I wonder what book 4 will be titled. I’m thinking RAGE would be good.

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