July 20, 2011

Author Interview: Nina LaCour!

"An arresting story about starting over after a friend's suicide, froma breakthrough new voice in YA fiction

dear caitlin, there are so many things that i want so badly to tell you but i just can't.

Devastating, hopeful, hopeless, playful . . . in words and illustrations, Ingrid left behind a painful farewell in her journal for Caitlin. Now Caitlin is left alone, by loss and by choice, struggling to find renewed hope in the wake of her best friend's suicide. With the help of family and newfound friends, Caitlin will encounter first love, broaden her horizons, and start to realize that true friendship didn't die with Ingrid. And the journal which once seemed only to chronicle Ingrid's descent into depression, becomes the tool by which Caitlin once again reaches out to all those who loved Ingrid - and Caitlin herself"

I'm very excited to introduce Nina LaCour, the author of Hold Still! She has answered a few questions for us, so take a few moments and learn more about this wonderful author!

Here are some quick and easy questions, just to get you warmed up!

1. Coffee or Tea?

Both! Coffee in the morning, tea later in the day.

2. Noodles or Popsicles?

Noodles. I'm a savory person.

3. Acting or Photography?

Photography. Definitely.

4. Writing or Reading?

I can't imagine my life without either.

5. Candy or Chocolate?

Depends on the day.

Now some harder ones!(:

1. What caused you to write a book on this topic (suicide)?

Two people I knew committed suicide when I was a freshman in high school. Though my book isn't based on either of them, I had a lot of questions as a teenager about what would drive a person to make such an irreversible decision, and I still have many of those questions now. But, to me, Hold Still isn't primarily about suicide. It's about what happens after that--how friendships develop, how grief overwhelms and eventually softens, how absurd and difficult and beautiful it is to be a teenager.

2. Is this book based off a real event? Have you been through the same thing?

No, I didn't lose a best friend to suicide in high school, but a lot Hold Still is based on my teenage years. The high school in the book is a lot like my high school was; the car Caitlin drives is based on my first car. Many of the themes are lifted from my life, like the way it feels to let go of old friends and make new ones and to come to know yourself gradually, in unexpected ways. But the major events and characters are inventions.

3. When writing this book, what obstacles did you have to overcome?

Hold Still is the first novel I completed. I usually wrote short stories. Short stories are great because you write them in a burst of inspiration, and you revise them and refine them and then they are finished and you are free to move on to the next one. But novels require a level of dedication that I didn't fully anticipate. There were times when I grew tired of writing the same story for so many pages and wished I could write something else. I worried a lot that it wouldn't be interesting enough, and I added all of these subplots that I later cut when my editor pointed out that they detracted from my story, which actually did turn out to be interesting. It was a difficult process, but it was also amazing to see the page count grow and to follow Caitlin through this tumultuous year in her life.

4. When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I always wanted to be a writer.

5. How did you know you should become a author?

My mom tells me that I used to dictate stories to her before I knew how to write, and I remember how thrilling it was whenever I was given a creative writing assignment in school. I knew I should be an author because when I wrote I got this feeling of rightness, and I cared very much about making what I wrote be as good as I could possibly make it. I think it's important for people to listen to their instincts and to follow them.

6. Back in high school, were you into photography? Are you now?

When I was in high school I was obsessed with the movie Reality Bites. In the movie, Winona Ryder plays a documentarian, and I took my inspiration very literally and asked for a movie camera for my birthday. I tried, unsuccessfully, to make films, which is a lot like photography. But I didn't actually take photographs and learn to develop film in a darkroom until I was researching for Hold Still. Photography has always been a big part of my life, though. My godmother is a photographer, and my mom used to teach high school photography and is now a photographer herself, and I married a photographer!

7. What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I love to spend time with the people I love and go on picnics and listen to music and dance in my apartment and cook and read and rearrange furniture.

8. How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?

I was headed to the airport when I got the call from my agent that we had an offer for Hold Still. I kept losing her because I was on the train and reception was terrible, but I didn't want to hang up. I was joining my girlfriend who was away in Portland, OR for work, and we went to our favorite Portland restaurant (the Farm Cafe) and had a great dinner and didn't stop smiling for days.

9. Where do you prefer to write? Outside, at your desk, in the living room?

I move around a lot. There are a couple cafes in Oakland (where I live) where I like to go to write, but most of the time I do a rotation, from the table in my kitchen where I drink coffee, to my little home office, to the even smaller deck off the back of the apartment--I find that switching up locations helps me to stay focused. I'm all about the atmosphere, too, so I always make sure that I have a clear space to work and a good view.

10. Do you plan on writing and publishing more books? Is something already in the works?

My second novel comes out in spring 2012, less than a year from now! It's called The Disenchantments. It doesn't deal with a big tragedy like Hold Still does, and there is a lot more lightheartedness and humor and fun, but it also looks at how painful it can be to grow up and grow apart from the people you were once closest to. It's about leaving home and going out into the world, and how exhilarating and terrifying and new that can feel. Here is the official synopsis from my publisher:

Colby and Bev have a long-standing pact: graduate, hit the road with Bev’s band, and then spend the year wandering around Europe. But moments after the tour kicks off, Bev makes a shocking announcement: she’s abandoning their plans—and Colby—to go her own way in the fall.

But the show must go on and The Disenchantments weave through the Pacific Northwest, playing in small towns and dingy venues, while roadie-Colby struggles to deal with Bev’s already-growing distance and the most important question of all: what’s next?

Morris Award–finalist Nina LaCour draws together the beauty and influences of music and art to brilliantly capture a group of friends on the brink of the rest of their lives.

Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Lisa!


  1. LaCour is awesome! Can't wait for the Disenchanments!

  2. I plant buy this book soon. Thanks for the interview, I had fun reading it! And an official summary for her new book! Awesome! :)


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