Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Interview with Robin Benway, author of THE EXTRAORDINARY SECRETS OF APRIL, MAY AND JUNE

Marlene:Tell us about your book.

Robin:My most current book is “The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May & June”, about 3 sisters who discover they have superpowers after their parents divorce: April can see the future, May becomes invisible, and June can read minds. I thought, “What would be worse than having your little sister be able to read your mind?!” and the rest of the superpowers unfolded from there.

Marlene: What was your inspiration for this story?

Robin: I saw a tattoo on a male model, the words “April May June” written across his collarbones in this beautiful script. My first thought was, “Oh my God, those are sisters,” and it wasn't until later that I thought, “Oh, and they're months of the year, too.” I figured I should find out who those sisters were.

Marlene: Do you remember writing the first words? Are they still the same?

Robin: The first scene I wrote for the book was when May drives a car for the first time and ends up disappearing while behind the wheel, causing havoc on the road and with her sisters. It was a much more serious scene than what appears in the book now, but it helped me figure out the sisters' personalities and how they interacted with one another.

Marlene:What kind of research did you have to do for this story?

Robin:Very little, actually! It's sort of difficult to research superpowers, and I really wanted to stay away from the typical superhero story, with villains and whatnot. I love those kinds of stories, but I wanted the focus to be on the girls' lives and how what makes them different is what makes them special.

Marlene: What is your favorite line, passage, chapter from this book?

Robin:“I hugged my sisters and they fit against my sides like two jigsaw pieces that would never fit anywhere else. I couldn’t imagine ever letting them go again, like releasing them would be to surrender the best parts of myself.”
It was one of the first sentences I wrote, without knowing who would say it, or why they would be so desperate to hug their sisters, and I think it helped me set up the plot of the book. I liked this phrase so much that I needed to fit it into the storyline!

Marlene: Was there any part that you struggled with or avoided writing?

Robin:There's a scene where May and her father have a phone conversation that was exceptionally difficult for me to write. I knew both of them would be upset after it and I didn't want to do that to May, but it had to be done. Sorry, May.

Marlene:What's on your nightstand right now?

Robin:Right now, I have “Matched” by Ally Condie, “Across the Universe” by Beth Revis, “One Day” by David Nicholls, “Decoded” by Jay-Z, and about a million back issues of magazines. I really want to get the Keith Richards biography and the Mark Twain autobiography, too, but I'm pacing myself.

Marlene:Besides writing, do you have any other passions?

Robin:I'm sort of obsessed with music and I even have a Song of the Day blog called The Songs that Saved Your Life ( I'll listen to anything and I love going to concerts and seeing live music. The character of Audrey from my first book, “Audrey, Wait!”, and I are very similar in that way. We're both music junkies.

Marlene: Have you ever wanted to quit writing? Why?

Robin:At least once a day. Seriously. I love it, but I either psych myself out or get frustrated by a sentence that doesn't work and I start thinking about 9 to 5 jobs again. And right when I'm ready to delete everything, the sentence works and I remember why I like writing so much. It can be an incredibly frustrating job at times, but it's worth it. Sometimes ten words strung together make it worth it.

Questions or comments for Robin? Feel free to leave her a message in the comments and she will check in throughout the next week.