24 July 2012


Today I'd like to welcome Holly Cupala and send a HUGE thank you to her for her participation in
this years Stand Up Against Abuse Week. The more people talking about abuse, the more people who might be empowered to stand up for themselves when facing any type of abusive relationship. Talking about abuse and how to prevent it is the first step in fighting it and with authors such as Holly we can all stand together.

What made you decide to share a story involving relationship abuse?

When I first started writing, I didn’t realize I would write about abuse…but then this character, Asher, showed up. He was seductive, and powerful, and cruel. He became the backstory of Joy’s desperate escape to the streets of Seattle, where she meets up with homeless teens with secrets of their own.

What do you think teens should know in order to stay safe in a relationship? 

I think we tend to seek out people who mirror our opinions of ourselves. If a boyfriend treats us badly, we may believe on some level (though probably not consciously) that we deserve it—otherwise why would we stay with someone like that? This goes for friendships, too. So my advice would be to have a great relationship with yourself before getting into a relationship with someone else. You’ll be much more likely to attract a person who respects you and cares about you for something that will last.

What do you hope teenagers take from reading DON'T BREATHE A WORD?

Power is a big theme in DBAW—Asher has power over Joy, and she thinks to survive on the streets she must develop a power of her own. She sees that kind of authority (she calls it “street powers”) in the homeless friends she finds—Creed’s power is through his music. Santos can talk his way out of anything. May has the power of disguise. But at some point all of those powers fail, and what’s left is survival skills. Joy discovers her words have power. She finds the courage to speak, and that makes all the difference for the survival of her friends. I hope readers will realize they have that kind of internal resource as well.

Was the process of developing the idea of this book emotional for you? Were you ever afraid of getting too graphic with the details? 

Writing DON’T BREATHE A WORD was exhilarating. I loved those characters! I could hardly type fast enough to get their story on the page. I fixed it up and proudly gave it to my husband, my first reader and unfortunately a good one, who said, “Ok…so this boyfriend? He’s a jerk, but he’s not abusive. I don’t get why she’s running away.”

That’s when I had to dig deeper to find the emotional juice that came so readily for my first book, TELL ME A SECRET. What I realized was that I did have the experience. Cruel, seductive Asher had come from my own life. Of course I didn’t want to go there, but I had to. I had to in order to tell Joy’s story. And I wrote about that relationship in DEAR BULLY: 70 AUTHORS TELL THEIR STORIES. There are no emotional shortcuts, not if I want to write as honestly as I can.

What were some startling statistics you found during your research?

When I first started making notes for DON’T BREATHE A WORD, I didn’t know if my ideas would fit into the reality of what teens actually experience on the streets…so I did a lot of independent research and took a class at New Horizons (the shelter in the book) on working with homeless teens. Just a few things I learned:

          •  The three most typical outcomes for homeless teens: they go home, they get off the streets, or they die.
          •  Rain, cold, and mold are a big problem in Seattle. A lot of kids get sick, and clean, dry socks are a big deal.
          •  A lot of homeless teens have pets for protection and love.
          •  Kids are usually running from something (like trauma or abuse), not running to the streets.
          •  Abuse on the streets is common. One statistic is that within 72 hours, most have been approached or assaulted.
          •  Wanting to leave bad habits is not a motivation to leave the streets—finding purpose and meaning is. One better choice can make the difference between a hopeful outcome and a grim one—I tried to capture that with the ending of DBAW.

I was also really surprised when the ideas I already had for the story (like street names, ideas of justice, and banding together for family and protection) were confirmed by real life. I guess some things are universal.

How has writing this story affected you and/or those around you?

This book has had such an amazing and personal response from readers that it inspires me to keep writing! Right now I’m working on a third YA involving secrets, romance, and a shocking conclusion.

And lastly, if you could, would you share what are your hopes for Joy would be if she was sitting in front of you right now?

My hope is that she would take her experiences, both with Asher and on the streets, and use them for good in the world. She talks about living close to the ground but not on the streets, having skills to be able to help people. After she finds her voice, she begins to find ways to do just that. (And being her author-mom, I’m very proud of her!)



Title: Don't Breathe A Word
Author: Holly Cupala
Publisher: HarperTeen, 299 Pages (January 3rd, 2012)
Add to: Goodreads
Order here: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, The Book Depository

Synopsis: Joy Delamere is suffocating...

From asthma, which has nearly claimed her life. From her parents, who will do anything to keep that from happening. From delectably dangerous Asher, who is smothering her from the inside out.

Joy can take his words—tender words, cruel words—until the night they go too far.

Now, Joy will leave everything behind to find the one who has offered his help, a homeless boy called Creed. She will become someone else. She will learn to survive. She will breathe... if only she can get to Creed before it’s too late.




Find Holly Online:

Website | Don't Breathe A Word Website |Twitter | Facebook

Two chapter sneak preview:

CLICK HERE TO READ



Don't Breathe a Word Book Trailer:


 *I am not compensated at all for any of the links within this post.

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