Laura spoke with fellow author Corabel Shofner about her tense young adult thriller, just out from Harper Teen. Laura’s a member of the Sweet Sixteens, an online group for YA and MG authors making their debut in 2016. Corabel hangs with the Swanky Seventeens.
ABOUT THE NOVEL
In this complex thriller, debut author Laura Tims explores the complicated relationship between twin sisters, and what one will do for the other. It’s a story that will keep readers turning pages and questioning their own sense of right and wrong.
Joy has done everything to protect her twin sister…including murder. Joy killed Adam Gordon for what he did to her sister, Grace. At least, that’s what she thinks happened. Now Adam can’t hurt anyone ever again, and her sister can be free from the boy who harmed her. But someone else knows what Joy did, and they’re going to out her as a cold-blooded killer if she doesn’t expose the scandalous secrets bubbling just below the surface of her mundane town. As the demands escalate, and she finds herself falling for Adam’s half brother, Joy must figure out the blackmailer’s identity before everything spirals out of control.
Tims writes an intense and utterly gripping contemporary YA tale perfect for fans of Pretty Little Liars.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laura Tims is a mental health advocate, a Cancer, and a reasonably cute organism. She likes Tumblr, anime, Neko Atsume, Homestuck, Steven Universe, and Undertale. She likes you even more.
She writes books about strange relationships, pain, and people who are scared but good. She loves to talk and if you also love to talk, find her on social media.
TALKING ABOUT ‘PLEASE DON’T TELL’
Laura, I’m honored to discuss your debut novel with you. How did you create the twins so that they would clearly be siblings yet different from one another?
Part of what really interests me as a writer is the different ways in which people deal with stress, anxiety, insecurity, etc. One of the main differences between the two is how they handle a lack of control. Grace deals with it by attempting to find control in other areas of her life – a lot of micromanaging. Joy handles it by surrendering to the lack of control, lashing out, and feeling overwhelmed.
I think people tend to typecast twins as opposites, and part of the theme of the book are the identities that other people project onto you – on the surface, Joy and Grace appear to be the cliché opposite twins, because that’s what they’ve always tried to be, since it’s what people expect. But really, they struggle with a lot of the same fears and insecurities.
How do you pace a thriller like this,to keep the tension alive?
It helps to plot it out in advance. Some books I can get away with not doing that, but with stories where plot and pacing are really important, it’s key to be able to visualize the bare-bones structure of events so you can see how each scene leads into the next. Ideally, every event should create some problem that subsequent scenes address. If you do it right, the story ends up having a nice flow that draws you along with a series of mini-cliffhangers.
Tell us about yourself as a mental health advocate. You have talked about your own depression. How did your interest in and experience with mental health help create this book?
Mental health has always been really important to me! I run a mental health blog on tumblr (nicecrabreminders.tumblr.com) and I think mental illness is one of the most serious problems facing teens today. I was only in high school five years ago, and from what I can tell, in that amount of time, it’s become even more of an epidemic. It’s especially worrisome because a lot of teens don’t have access to mental health care or face having their concerns dismissed as angst or moodiness. I never really addressed my own anxiety and depression issues during high school, and when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis recently, it was a wakeup call to the effect that longterm anxiety can have on your health (it’s possible that autoimmune diseases can be triggered by persistent stress.)
For this book, I wanted to write about characters who were struggling with unaddressed, undiagnosed mental illness. I wanted to show the seriousness of the burden it is.
Imagine your perfect reader. How would you describe that person?
I’m always happiest to hear from readers who in some way benefited or related to the depictions of mental illness in my books – it’s really validating! So any reader who connects to the characters is an ideal reader to me.
Are you a twin?
I don’t have a twin, but I do have a younger brother! I’ve always been interested by the expectations put on twins and I wondered how that would affect someone’s development.
You wrote this book as a college student? Really?
Yup! I wrote and sold the book during my junior year of college. It was pretty intense juggling homework!
Like many of us, your publication date has moved around. How do you feel now that it is happening?
I’m really happy that now is the time my book is coming out – I know there are pros and cons to being bumped, but I feel more prepared for it now that I’ve had the extra time. (Although I don’t know if I’ll ever really be prepared!) Publication date rescheduling is a normal and common part of the process, so I always figured out would happen anyway.
Plotter or Pantser?
Depends on the book! For PLEASE DON’T TELL, definitely plotter. For THE BEST THING ABOUT PAIN, it was a mixture of both. I’ve gone full pantser before, though!
Music while writing?
I always listen to music when writing! I usually pick a random Spotify playlist, but some of my favorites are Stars, Halsey, and Explosions in the Sky.
ABOUT THE INTERVIEWER
Corabel Shofner, born in Mississippi, currently lives in Nashville. She is delighted finally to be a published novelist, something she’s been seeking since writing “The Monsters Under My Bed” in first grade. (It was non-fiction.)
Corabel’s debut middle-grade novel, ALMOST PARADISE, will be published by FSG in Spring 2017. Here’s a summary to whet your appetite…..
Ruby Clyde, wakes up at a campsite to discover that her mother’s ridiculous boyfriend, the Catfish, is dragging them to Hollywood. When they stop at a filling station near Austin, Texas Ruby Clyde walks her piglet behind the bushes. The idiot Catfish robs the filling station while Ruby’s mother is waiting in the car so she is arrested as an accomplice. Ruby Clyde hides because she is terrified of ending up in an orphanage. Alone in the world. What is she to do? How can she free her mother from a Texas jail? Unfortunately she needs the help of her estranged aunt, an ornery solitary nun who lives at Paradise Ranch.
You can find Corabel at corabelshofner.com