We’re thrilled to welcome to the blog Kristin Halbrook, author of NOBODY BUT US, which releases today from HarperTeen.
They’re young. They’re in love. They’re on the run.
Zoe wants to save Will as much as Will wants to save Zoe. When Will turns eighteen, they decide to run away together. But they never expected their escape to be so fraught with danger….
When the whole world is after you, sometimes it seems like you can’t run fast enough.
Nobody But Us, told in alternating perspectives from Will and Zoe, is an unflinching novel, in turns heartbreaking and hopeful, about survival, choices, and love…and how having love doesn’t always mean that you get a happy ending. Described as “beautiful, heartbreaking, and exhilarating” by Kody Keplinger, author of The DUFF, Nobody But Us will prove irresistible to fans of Nina Lacour, Jenny Han, and Sara Zarr.
First of all, thanks so much to Julie for these great questions and to OneFour Kidlit for hosting this interview. You’re awesome!
1. NOBODY BUT US is told from both Zoe’s and Will’s perspective. Both voices are so distinct. Was one voice more challenging that the other?
Writing these two voices was definitely a tough, but fantastic learning process. Zoe’s voice is a bit more like the voice I naturally write with–the phrasings, the rhythm and timing–so hers was easier for me. Will’s voice was more challenging. I had to get to know his character really well–the places he’s been, what he’s learned–before writing an effective voice. I had to go outside my natural style to create a difference sentence rhythm and feel to his voice. And I had to be careful not to overdo it. I didn’t want him to come off as a caricature of himself. Luckily, I have a fabulous agent, editor and group of critique partners who let me know when it was too much, or not enough.
2. When Zoe and Will run away, they hit the road and head west in Will’s Camaro. Are you a road trip girl? If so, where did your most epic road trip take you?
I do enjoy road trips. I take short-ish ones to explore the natural beauty of Washington State, and I take longer ones to vacation and see family and friends. One of my favorite road trips was to Yellowstone. I loved the scenery through the forests of Idaho, and Yellowstone itself blew me away. It’s such a fabulous, unique place. Another favorite road trip was last summer to Black Rock City. Driving through Oregon ghost towns in the middle of the night, with an orange moon in the sky, was haunting. And the Black Rock Desert is like a landscape from a futuristic novel. Beautiful.
3. Like Zoe and Will, you’re running away. You can take one person and a backpack. Who do you take and what do you bring in your backpack?
I’m going to assume this question can’t include my family, because they’d have to go with me, of course! So, outside of my family I would probably take fellow author and BFF Kirsten Hubbard. We’re both wanderlusty and are laid-back about sleeping in strange places. It would be an adventure! My backpack would include lots of sensible items like a small first aid kit, wallet, clothes and lotion. It would also have small gifts from where I’ve been to give to the people from where I’m going.
4. NOBODY BUT US takes place over the span of a few days. As a writer, I see all the difficulties this presents, but as a reader I love this format and you do it so wonderfully. Did you find this challenging? And if so, how?
The nice thing about only a few days is that there’s a built-in pacing mechanism that works to keep the story on track. But there are definitely challenges. I worked carefully with characterization and thought a lot about how much two people could really change in just a few days–especially people with the kinds of pasts, hurdles, worries and insecurities as Will and Zoe. I wanted these changes to be realistic. At one point, Zoe makes a huge decision and, for her with her history and personality, it really is HUGE. That was a massive change in a short period of time for a character like that, but I think it’s realistic. It also shows that she’s on a certain path from that point on, hints about the changes to come for her.
5. Can you talk about what you have lined up next for your readers? Will there be more kissing? More heartbreak?
I’m working on lots of projects at the moment. My next contemporary will have more kissing and some heartbreak! Not quite at the scale of Nobody But Us, but there’s definitely lots of soul-searching and agony. I like writing emotion.
6. And as this community is All for One and OneFour KidLit, we’d like to know what two or three books inspired you as a kid.
Tough question! LITTLE WOMEN was my first real foray into classic literature. I was in fourth grade when I read that one and loved it. It set me up for reading books in the canon, which I’ve enjoyed to this day. I also always loved the Anne of Green Gables books. So sweet and fantastic characterization. A Wrinkle in Time was definitely an inspiring read. It broke the mold for me, bringing to life this fabulous new world that I adored.
This interview was conducted by OneFour member Julie Murphy, whose YA novel SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY releases from HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray in 2014. This interview is part of an ongoing series of interviews with The Lucky13s —- YA, MG, and children’s books authors debuting in 2013.