Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Interview with Jennifer R. Hubbard

Jennifer R. Hubbard

author of the upcoming YA novel
(due January 7th, 2009)

Seventeen-year-old Colt has been sneaking out at night to meet Julia, a girl from an upper-class neighborhood unlike his own. They’ve never told anyone else about their relationship: not their family or friends, and especially not Julia’s boyfriend. When Julia dies suddenly, Colt tries to cope with her death while pretending that he never even knew her. He discovers a journal Julia left behind. But Colt is not prepared for the truths he discovers about their intense relationship, nor to pay the price for the secrets he’s kept.

Here is the INTERVIEW:

Have you always known you'd be a writer?

Yes, I have been writing ever since I was little, when I would make my own handmade books.

How did your homeland of Philadelphia affect or inspire you as a writer?

I came to Philadelphia when I was seventeen, to attend college. Navigating the city and finding all the great things it has to offer--restaurants, museums, parks, libraries--helped me grow in confidence and independence.

One other note about this city as it relates to The Secret Year. Philadelphia has two rivers (the Schuylkill and the Delaware) and several major creeks. A river plays a major role in my book. That's no accident; I have always lived near rivers and creeks.

Before The Secret Year, what kinds of things did you write about?

I've written literary short stories for years. Recently, I decided to try writing contemporary YA, since I've always loved reading it. But I notice that no matter what the form, my stories tend to have intense relationships at their center.

Is there a specific genre that you love to write in above all others?

Right now, I'm focusing on YA novels. But I will always have a special fondness for the short story.

What is your writing process?

I have an entire blog devoted to my writing process, and I still can't cover it all. :-) Mostly I write something, and then I revise it a zillion times.

Has there been anyone in your life that motivated you to write more than anyone else?

I really don't know what motivated me to write. My parents didn't have a lot of books in the house, but they encouraged me to read and didn't censor my reading much. Writing was, for me, an outgrowth of reading.

How do you choose the setting for your books?

I don't; it chooses me. With The Secret Year, the setting came easily because there are so many places in this country that are undergoing the same changes as Colt's town: farms turning into developments, mansions going up on formerly pristine woodlands.

How do you choose names for your characters?

With a lot of agonizing and a lot of leafing through baby-name books, and trying to avoid names of close friends and relatives.

You mention growing up around a journal-binding factory in your bio. What was that experience like?

My grandfather worked at a place that made notebooks. At the company store, he could get the imperfect notebooks--the ones that had a printing error or a flaw in the spiral binding--at a steep discount, so he bought boxes full. The books were still usable, and having that ready supply of paper (this was before people had home computers) gave me plenty of space to indulge my word games and early writing exercises.

What do you do in your spare time (besides writing)?

Hiking is my favorite activity other than writing.

JENNIFER R. HUBBARD was interviewed by READING ROCKS on October 3, 2009.


  1. Nice interview. The Secret Year sounds fantastic! :)

  2. Great review! I definitely need to read this :D


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