The Book Monsters are happy to welcome Nancy Holder to the blog for the next two days. Nancy is the author of such Young Adult novels as Possessions, and the upcoming The Evil Within.
Lindsay is hoping for a fresh start, to get out of San Diego, where everyone remembers when she had her breakdown, and get away to boarding school, even if it is a boarding school as creepy as Marlwood Academy. But Lindsay is happier, and even manages to make a great new friend, Julie. Then, the school's most popular girl, Mandy starts acting super creepy. Rumors abound, but it's becoming more and more clear to Lindsay that something else is at work… something darker and more dangerous than just a houseful of mean girls.
Describe your book in five words or less.
Scary, eerie, poignant, heart-warming.
How did the idea for the Possessions series come to you?
My editorial team at Razorbill approached me with an idea to write a series about a haunted boarding school in Vermont. But since I'm a Californian, I suggested we move it to the mountains up in Northern California. I was born near San Francisco and I've been up to the Bay Area four or five times since beginning to write POSSESSIONS. The air is crisper up there; it's greener and lusher than San Diego, where I live now. San Diego smells like sunscreen, eucalyptus, and pepper trees. Northern California smells like pine and the whiff of ozone before a good rain. And it smells like home.
What is the hardest part of writing for you? What's the easiest?
I have a hard time getting started. I want so badly for the story that's coming out on my screen to be the story I'm seeing in my head. Have you ever done one of those exercises where someone is blindfolded and you have to tell them how to draw an object only you can see? I feel like I'm both the describer and the one wearing the blindfold.
The easiest part of writing for me is revising. I love to revise. I feel more confident once I have something down on paper that I can tinker with.
What's next for you? Are you currently working on or have plans for future projects?
I just turned in POSSESSIONS 3. We have a working title for it and I hope we keep it. It's an excellent title. My editors at Razorbill are so talented. I have worked with Kristen Pettit, Lexa Hillyer, and now Brianne Mulligan. My publisher is Ben Shrank. They're all wonderful. Next up, we're talking about a thriller-murder mystery, maybe something along the lines of PRETTY LITTLE DEVILS.
I also write dark fantasy for Simon and Schuster. My WICKED coauthor, Debbie Viguie, and I are have a new series called CRUSADE coming out in September from Simon Pulse. I also write comic books and pulp fiction for Moonstone Books, and I'll have more short stories out, including young adult vampire romance.
Why did you choose to write for young adults?
What I love best about writing for young adults is I can be direct and honest. They're going through so much, and I can go ahead and acknowledge that. I can say in writing what they might be thinking. Middle school can be brutal. High school can be terrifying. Everyone's talking about college and career choices and maybe boys and maybe girls and packing in so many extracurriculars that there's barely time to breathe. Some parents smother their kids and others leave them alone too much. I have a 13-year-old daughter and I listen to her and to her friends, and I want to let them know that it's going to be okay. Young adults need to know that they're not alone and what they're going through does not have to damage them. That's the message at the end of POSSESSIONS 3. My own teenage life was very turbulent. My mother died when I was nine, and my father died when I was sixteen. I had a rocky relationship with my stepmother, quit school, and went to Europe to be a dancer. It's all sorted out now. I'm happier than I've ever been. The most important thing I have to say to young adults is, "Even in the darkest place, there is hope."
I love being around kids. When I was in college, I would take the kids in my apartment complex to the movies. If I'm going to Los Angeles for a meeting or an autographing, I still stop off at Disneyland to get some work done–on my laptop or reading–just to be around all that energy. I've been a Girl Scout troop leader, a pre-school teacher, and the director of children's ministries at a church. I make a point now of inviting my teenage daughter's friends over as often as possible. I try to listen to them and when I can, reassure them that they are awesome, amazing people and they really can fulfill their dreams.
What's it like hearing that readers are eagerly awaiting your book's release date?
I still pinch myself that I have the career I do. I'm grateful to readers who had connected with my work.
What is one question that you've always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?
The one question: What's it like, really, to be a fulltime freelance writer?
Answer: It's hard. It takes a lot of discipline to keep my butt in my chair. I have to write every day, read, and think quietly. But aside from being a mom, it's the best job in the world.