I love hiking, and chocolate, and (of course) books. I’ve lived most of my life in New England and Pennsylvania, with visits elsewhere. The last time I left the country, it was to visit Iceland. I own one cat—or rather, he owns me.3LB: Who or what inspired you to write? Do you have any role models, whether in writing or life in general?
I can’t remember not being able to read, and I was trying to write my own books at a very early age. A writer whose style inspired me is Jack Kerouac: the rhythm and flow he used made me see that prose could have poetic qualities.3LB: Synopsis in a Tweet! Describe your book in 140 characters or less.
The Secret Year: a secret relationship, a sudden death, a diary left behind.3LB: I feel that names hold meaning and importance to characters. How do you come up with or decide on the names for your characters? Do they hold meaning?
Colt’s original name was Clayton, Clay for short. I felt that it suited him—the association of clay with river mud, and so on. The computer file that holds my early drafts for the book is called “ClayJulia,” after the main characters. But when I was on the verge of submitting my book about a boy named Clay who finds the journal his secret girlfriend left behind after her death, I saw the advance notice for a book that was coming out soon. It was about a boy named Clay who finds autobiographical audiotapes that his secret crush left behind after her death.3LB: I gotta ask, do you have a book playlist? If so, how did these songs inspire your writing/book/characters?
This kind of coincidence happens to writers all the time, but it’s always
disconcerting at first. By now you probably recognize the second book as Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why, and if you’ve read it you know that it’s not that similar to The Secret Year. For example, it focuses much more on suicide, which isn’t the case in The Secret Year. But 13 Reasons Why wasn’t out yet, and all I had to go on was the synopsis, so I changed Clay’s name. I picked Colten because it was close to his original name, and I liked the horse-and-gun associations with the nickname, Colt. Finally, I chose the variant spelling (“Colten” instead of “Colton”) just to keep from further coincidences with anyone else’s main character name!
For The Secret Year, I listened to a lot of Fleetwood Mac and Tom Waits. Two of the songs I played a lot seemed especially appropriate for the book: Fleetwood Mac’s “Big Love” (the 1997 live version), and Tom Wait’s “Temptation.” I’ve also come to see that Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” works, too.3LB: What’s next for you? What other books have you written?
My second book Try Not to Breathe, just came out. It’s about a boy who’s recovering from a suicide attempt, and his friendship with a girl who is trying to reach her dead father through psychics.3LB: If you could bring to life any book character in history, who would you chose?
Maybe Anne of Green Gables? She would be a lot of fun, I think.3LB: This or that…
Dog or cat? I currently have a cat, but like both.3LB: Tell us five interesting things about yourself.
Summer or winter? Summer! I like barefoot weather.
Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate.
Tea or coffee? Iced tea.
Morning or night person? Night. I don’t really see the point of mornings.
3LB: If you could leave your readers with one bit of wisdom, what would you want it to be?
- When I was in junior high, I had to memorize the first part of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” I still remember some of it.
- I sold my first short story at seventeen. But it was a long time until the next sale.
- I went caving once when I was in college. That’s how I realized I was claustrophobic.
- When I was twenty, I worked for scientists who were conducting a study of heavy-metal poisoning in a mining area.
- Most people seem to find bagpipe music annoying, but I like it because one of my relatives played the bagpipes, and I associate the sound with childhood memories.
Life is short; be kind.
~~~Thank you, Jennifer! For more information about Ms. Hubbard and /her books, visit:
Purchase The Secret Year and Try Not to Breathe, available now!
Learning to live is more than just choosing not to die, as sixteen-year-old Ryan discovers in the year following his suicide attempt. Despite his mother’s anxious hovering and the rumors at school, he’s trying to forget the darkness from which he has escaped. But it doesn’t help that he’s still hiding guilty secrets, or that he longs for a girl who may not return his feelings. Then he befriends Nicki, who is using psychics to seek contact with her dead father. This unlikely friendship thaws Ryan to the point where he can face the worst in himself. He and Nicki confide in one another the things they never thought they’d tell anyone—but their confessions are trickier than they seem, and the fallout tests the bounds of friendship and forgiveness.
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