Friday, March 14, 2014

CREED: An Interview with Author Trisha Leaver

After seeing the summary of CREED on Goodreads, I was hooked. Author Trisha Leaver was kind enough to talk to me about her writing and answered a few burning questions I had. Even though CREED is not out yet, it can be preordered.

Three went in. Three came out. None even a shadow of who they once were.

When their car breaks down, Dee, her boyfriend Luke, and his brother Mike walk through a winter storm to take refuge in a nearby town called Purity Springs. When they arrive, the emergency sirens are blaring and the small farming town seems abandoned. With no other shelter, they spend the night in an empty house.

But they soon discover that not everything in Purity Springs is as it seems. When the town's inhabitants suddenly appear the next morning, Dee, Luke, and Mike find themselves at the mercy of the charismatic leader, Elijah Hawkins, who plans to make Dee his new wife. Elijah's son, Joseph, offers to help them escape . . . but the price of his help may be more than Dee and her friends can bear.


CREED was recently voted as the most anticipated YA horror novel of 2014, yet it won't hit the shelves until November 8th. I am sure you are both so excited for CREED's release. Can you share the story of how this story came to be?

I had dream, or more accurately a nightmare, about walking into an abandoned town with two of my friends.  Although everything looked to be in order—shelves stocked with food, dinner on the kitchen table, cars parked in driveways—there wasn’t a single soul to be found, not even a stray dog. The only sound was comin from sirens attached to telephone poles, the only movement...shadows weaving their way through the alleys. That was all my subconscious gave me--the image of three kids walking into this creepy town. Where they went after that….well, that was all up to mine and Lindsay’s imagination.  I penned out the first chapter immediately, afraid of losing even the tiniest of details to my groggy mind.  The next morning, I sent that rough chapter over to Lindsay and from there, CREED was born.

Any plans to sign at BEA this year?

No, the ARC’s for CREED won’t be ready by then, but CREED will be a featured title at ALA this summer in Las Vegas.

What inspired you to write a horror story?

Easy answer….my brother. I was deathly afraid of the dark when I was a kid. I used to check under the bed and refused to sleep without the hall light on. My older brother used to tease me, say that it wasn't the monsters under the bed that I should be afraid of, but the ones hiding in the closet. We were stupid, bickering kids back then, but years later, with a lifetime of experiences behind me, I finally got what he meant. None of the horror I write is paranormal based. Not because I don't love a good fanged monster, but because I believe the darkness that surrounds us every day is scarier than any paranormal creature Hollywood could dream up.  It's the evil that lingers within a chosen few, their dark past and tortured existences that I try to capture. What can I say, I like to explore the darker side of humanity.

I've read that Lindsay is a huge fan of Stephen King. How does his writing influence your own?  More than once CREED has been pitched as the CHILDREN OF THE CORN meets THE VILLAGE, so it is interesting that you ask about Stephen King. 

Has he influenced my writing, but more his style than his actual plots. Stephen King plays more to the psychological aspects of horror as opposed to the slasher, girl-in-bikini-running-a-lake-being-chased-by-a-machete-weilding-psych of type of horror. Think of THE SHINING and Jack’s slow decent into insanity, the isolation, the knowledge that true evil can reside in all of us....that is the aspect of Stephen King's writing that I am most drawn to.

Trisha, Poltergeist scared the crap out of me too! In fact, I hid all dolls in the attack after seeing the clown attack Carrie Ann. At  age___ I finally beat my fear of clowns last year. After all of this, what keeps bringing you back to horror?

Psychological based horror gives you the opportunity to explore the darkest shades of life, peel back the layer of a character's inner psyche to discover where evil dwells. Whether I am writing solo YA contemporary or co-authoring a horror, I love raw, gritty emotion and tension and that grey area between right and wrong. In my experience, fear...true, unadulterated, oh-my-god-that-really-could-happen fear is one of the most powerful emotions one can draw out in their reader and…well, horror is the perfect genre for that.

Did you do any type of research, like visiting a haunted house?, never visited a haunted house.  And before you ask, I have no intention of EVER having my dreams analyzed because as you can imagine, even I don't want to go there :) We did a fair amount of research into the organization of cults, their hierarchal structure and the use of coercion and mind games to both recruit and maintain their followings. But the town, the surrounding areas, the characters are completely a fictional product of our twisted imaginations.

Co-writing is not the norm, so how do you ladies write? Do you write alternating chapters?
It may not be the norm, and I can guarantee it doesn't work for everybody, but co-authoring has been a seamless process for me and Lindsay thus far. We both have a hand in every chapter, every scene, often trading the same chapter back and forth multiple times a day.  Not only are we tweaking content, but since all of our books are written in singular POV, we take great pains to make sure the voice is consistent.  One of the greatest compliments we can get is when our CPs or editor say "I can't tell who wrote what!"

I know you won't talk too much about your next book SWEET MADNESS, but can you talk about how you came up with the idea of writing a YA historical fiction horror story? 

My next book is actually a solo YA Contemporary title THE SECRETS WE KEEP.  It hits shelves winter of 2015 with FSG/ Macmillan.  But you want to know about our super-secret project SWEET MADNESS.  It is truly a YA Historical Horror based on an actual murder that occurred in the late 1800’s. Why historical…I have a fascination with history, specifically the gruesome aspects of it so it was a natural place for out writing to go. 

Any advice you can give to writers?
Persistence, patience, and solid group of CP's.  Write because it is your passion, because the stories you are telling are an extension of yourself, a voice in your head that is demanding to be given life. Trust me, that passion will come through in your writing.  Ego has no place in the world of publishing. No matter where you are in this journey, there are people behind you and people in front of you and those players are constantly in motion. Learn from them, mentor them, be kind and supportive to them.  And lastly and probably the hardest for any author to swallow is SOME BOOKS ARE MEANT TO DIE.  Don't be afraid to shelve a book. I have....more than once, and I know without a shadow of a doubt that I will again.

Author Bio: Trisha Leaver lives on Cape Cod – the land of sandy beaches and perpetual tourists – with her husband, three children, and one rather excitable black lab. She spent all of my childhood living inside my own mind, creating characters and stories that only a child's imagination could dream up. She now breaths lives into those imaginary characters writing realistic fiction and psychological horror young adults.

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