Author Interview: Holly Cupala

We are happy to welcome Holly Cupala today. Holly is the author of the upcoming novel, Tell Me a Secret.

Tell me a secret, and I'll tell you one…

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.

Then two lines on a pregnancy test confirm her worst fears. Stripped of her former life, Miranda 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. 


Describe your book in five words or less.


Sisters…Secrets…Superhot sci-fi guy…


Did you always know you wanted to be a writer, or did you just kind of fall into it?


I think I fell into it around age six or so, when my parents tell me I began my opus primum…about a dog with a whole city in his stomach—pizza street, candy street, ice cream street…you can see the endless possibilities. I kept writing all through school and even wrote a couple of teen romance novels in eighth grade, before I’d actually experienced teen romance. Afterward, it was all tragic poetry. I wrote a short story about religious (and romantic) tensions among Irish teens for my senior project, inspired by an article in Sassy magazine—I still remember the title vividly: “Blood + Poetry.” It was very dramatic. Then in college, I was too shy to pursue creative writing and instead studied literature. When I was finishing grad school and about to go on to teach lit, I realized I’d abandoned my first love. So I took some writing classes, wrote some terrible stuff, joined with some other writers, started writing better stuff, and then one day, the idea for TELL ME A SECRET landed in my lap.


What's the best thing about being an author?


Getting to do so many cool things and consider them work! Reading, writing, talking to people, traveling, blogging, thinking about ideas and characters and ways to dig deeper into the story. Though sometimes I prefer having written to actually doing the writing—getting words on the page can be painful and slow. Oh, and getting to expense Trader Joe’s strawberry licorice! I justify it as necessary writing fuel.


What do you like to do in your spare time, when you are not writing? 


Miranda is an artist, and that part is all me—I love to paint and collage and make crafty stuff and do DIY Fridays on my blog – and spend time with friends and my sweeties, of course. Plus I love to hang out at readergirlz, where I work with many wonderful YA authors and lit lovers (Justina Chen, Lorie Ann Grover, Dia Calhoun, Liz Gallagher, and Elizabeth Scott, to name a few), connecting teens with authors and community service. We feature a different YA novel every month and a live chat with the author – I’ll be there to chat about TELL ME A SECRET in August!


Do you have a favorite theme or genre that you like to write about? Is there a genre that you'll probably stay away from and why?


After I finished writing a second YA novel (just heard from my editor—she loves it!), I realized I touched on a lot of the same themes as in TELL ME A SECRET: looking for yourself in other people; trying to define the future with the past; wanting to be loved for who you are. A lot of writers seem to circle back to core themes, which I find really interesting. As for genres, I probably won’t try writing picture books again, because the ones I did write were pretty awful! But then, never say “never.” I’d actually like to try my hand at apocalyptic sci-fi sometime—astrophysics and dimensional theories are fascinating to me. Maybe that’s why the Superhot sci-fi guy is into wormholes and ideas about time…


The cover is gorgeous! What was your reaction to seeing it for the first time?


LOVE! My parents and my niece Molly, age 15, were up visiting at the time. Molly had glued herself to the couch the day before and read the almost-final manuscript start to finish (a huge compliment from her!), when I got the .jpg from my editor. I gasped. I screamed. I said, “Quick, everybody, come here!” Everyone ran in and looked at the gorgeous image on the screen. Molly said, “It’s perfect.” I couldn’t agree more.


Is there anything else you would like to say?


Well…while I was writing TELL ME A SECRET, a lot of my favorite books and music and sci-fi obsessions found their way into the story—so there are tons of hidden Easter Egg-type references all over the place. For instance, I threaded the titles of two novels by my favorite author, Italo Calvino, in the context of the story (hint: one of them is The Castle of Crossed Destinies). There are tons of sci-fi references—a phrase that Nik, one of the characters, uses frequently is a reference to Babylon 5. I needed a song for a particular point in the story and got to use lyrics from one of my favorite bands, Splashdown (  It was cool to be able to include them!



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3 responses to “Author Interview: Holly Cupala

  1. Book Crazy Jenn

    I can’t wait to read this book, what a delightful interview Kate! I will have to look for some of the easter egg’s while reading it! 🙂 I cant wait.

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