Several weeks ago, I read and reviewed Hold Still by Nina LaCour. If you're interested, you can check out that post here. I had the extreme pleasure of contacting Nina through e-mail and she agreed to do an interview with me which is great timing as Hold Still comes out TOMORROW in paperback with a gorgeous new cover. Stick around to the end to see how you can win a copy of her novel!
So onto the good stuff!
|The paperback cover|
Well, when I was in ninth grade, two people I knew committed suicide: a classmate and a teacher I had just had in middle school. There is no age at which it feels okay to lose someone like that, and I've had lingering questions about both of those people ever since then. Another concept that came from my high school experience is rooted in shyness. Though I had old friends from elementary school and middle school, my best friend and I were inseparable, and towards the end of high school we pretty much only hung out together. When I started thinking about the book I was going to write, I thought, What if I had lost her? I would have been a lot like Caitlin is at the beginning of the book--lost and isolated. Then, the story really started taking shape when my mother, who is a high school photography teacher, invited me to her classroom to look at her students' work. There was one image that especially stood out to me, taken by a girl of her friend, who was beautiful and troubled. The girl in the photograph was the source of inspiration for Ingrid and the idea of the photographer, the person behind the camera who was witnessing her friend's suffering, helped me form Caitlin. From there, I let the story take course.
2) I really loved your diverse cast of characters. Did you have one or two you were really fond of (besides Caitlin, of course!)?
When I'm writing a book, I find myself thinking about the characters as if they exist in the real world. Right now in the novel I'm working on I have a character who loves old girl groups from the 60s, and I'll be somewhere and a song will come on and I'll think, Meg would love this! So, yes; I was fond of quite a few of them. Caitlin is so alone in the beginning, at least at school, so when Taylor and Dylan and Jason and Maddy started entering her life, I felt this great sense of relief. I love Dylan because she's so persistent and so wise. She's exactly the kind of friend Caitlin needs. She's comforting, but she doesn't let Caitlin get away with anything. And, of course, I adore Taylor. He's so funny and sweet, and he would surprise me in scenes. I never knew what he was going to say or do until I typed it. (Which explains why I could never figure him out until after I read what he was doing. It made him so realistic!)
3) If you could go back and re-write the novel (for fun) in any other character's perspective, who would you choose and why?
What a cool question! I think I'd write it from Veena's perspective. Ms. Delani is so cold for so much of the novel, but when she and Caitlin begin to connect again I think it's a very gratifying part of the story. I'm a high school teacher now, but I wasn't yet when I wrote the book, so I can better imagine now what she's going through. I like how flawed she is, because I think that students have this way of idealizing teachers they like. I know that I did. (Me too.) Now I know that teachers, even the good ones, are flawed like everyone else. They don't have everything figured out, and Veena certainly does a good job of showing that.
4) Hold Still is about a very controversial and difficult topic. Was there one or two scenes that were really painful for you to write? As a reader, it was really hard for me to see Caitlin push Dylan away, especially since I knew how much Caitlin really liked Dylan.
Yeah, I hated writing the parts where Caitlin distances herself from Dylan. As the writer I wanted nothing more than for Caitlin to understand that she had to move on, but I knew that the journey couldn't be easy. She has a lot of grieving to do, and a lot of confusion and guilt to wrestle with. The scene that was the hardest for me to write, though, is the one with Ingrid's parents, when Caitlin first sees them again and allows herself to imagine they went through on the morning that Ingrid died. I kept putting off writing that scene, and when I finally did, it wrecked me.
5) Did anything get cut during the editing process that you were particularly fond of? Was there anything added to the novel during revisions that you love?
That's a great question, because the answer to both is Yes, and neither would have happened without the other. One thing that my incredible editor, Julie Strauss-Gabel, pointed out to me during revisions was the Caitlin had a lot of places to go: her room, her car, the treehouse, etc. In early drafts, she also had a whole neighborhood of abandoned stores and houses. I was pretty fond of this element of the novel, but I agreed with Julie that there was an overabundance of refuges, and I wanted the ones that I had to really mean something. So I cut the old neighborhood. What arrived in its place, though, was the movie theater. It had all of the memories that the neighborhood had, but it worked better on so many levels. Now, I can't imagine the novel without it. (Me either, as this is one of my favorite metaphors of the novel.)
6) Ingrid's drawings really add to her character and Hold Still a truly unique read. Did you originally envision Mia Nolting's illustrations in the novel or was this something that was added later by someone else?
I'd always hoped that there would be illustrations. Actually, before the novel was even finished, well before I had an agent let alone a publisher, my friend Mia Nolting was working on the illustrations. I would give Mia sections as I wrote them and she would make doodles and copy Ingrid's journal entries in her lovely handwriting and I would feel this great surge of energy to keep writing so that she would do more. I was thrilled when the folks at Penguin wanted to include Mia's work in the book. It was such a dream of ours, and I know that everything Mia did, from the full-page illustrations to the leaves on the cover to the hand-lettering, makes the book feel different and special. (So special in fact, that I added a few photos of these drawings in my review!)
7) When you write, do you listen to music? If so, is there a certain song or band that represents Hold Still to you?
I do listen to music when I write, but I have to be able to zone out so I do this really annoying thing. I listen to songs on repeat. Over and over. For hours. My wife is the sweetest person ever because instead of getting annoyed, she actually likes it. She says that when she hears a song on repeat she knows I'm writing. Aren't I lucky? So anyway, yes: there are songs that represent Hold Still to my but I'm not going to give them away here because they are listed at the end of the paperback edition, along with a little thing I wrote about mix tapes. I listed ten songs, many of which spent a lot of time on repeat while I was working on the book.
|From Tegan & Sara's music video to "Call It off"|
8) Have you read anything lately that you love?
I am a big Aimee Bender fan and I recently read her novel The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. It's such a beautiful and heartbreaking book.
9) Are you currently working on anything new?
I am! I just finished the second draft of my next novel. It's told from the perspective of Colby, an eighteen-year-old guy who just graduated and is on tour with an all-girl band called The Disenchantments. It involves cheap motels and music and heartbreak and friendship and tattoos and many interesting strangers. If all goes as planned, it will be out in early 2012.
I, for one sure do hope all goes as planned. The newest novel sounds amazing! Nina, thanks so much for doing an interview with me! Don't forget that Hold Still is out in paperback tomorrow October 5, 2010!
But let's talk about your chance to win a copy!
Hold Still Giveaway!
- Must be 13 years or older and a follower.
- This contest is international. As long as the Book Depository delivers to you then you are eligible to win.
- Please make sure to fill out the form as comments do not count as entries but are worth extra points!
- This contest ends October 25, 2010.
- I'll draw the winner randomly using an online number randomizer.
- The winner will have 3 days to respond to my e-mail!
Good luck to everyone who enters and thanks so much for hanging out with me to read this post!