I am excited to host Bethany Hensel to my blog to come and talk about her debut novel which came out this week. (Why just in time for your holiday reading!) I’ve gotten to know Bethany online and I’m always excited to see a new novelist join the bookshelves. I have this one on my e-reader cued up and ready to go. It looks like it will be a great holiday escape- I’m looking forward to diving in!
Bethany came by to talk about her book, Unstoppable.
1) Tell us what your new book is about.
The book is about 19 year old Derek Archer. He’s just graduated from high school, is about to land the job he’s always wanted and move in with the girl he’s always loved, Victoria. But then her father is shot and killed, setting off a devastating chain of reaction that thrusts Derek deep into the heart of a seemingly perfect family, where bitter lies and agonizing betrayal collide. With his entire world in the balance, it’s then Derek discovers just how unimaginable the truth can be…and how unstoppable.
I’d say the story is very Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet meets The Bourne Identity, but without the amnesia. Loads of action, lots of thrills and romance romance romance!
2) Give us a behind the scenes story of your book.
Oh goodness, now that’s a question that could have a lot of tangents! Okay, I’ll say that the story went through a ton of change as the years progressed. I started in early 2009 and by the time the first draft was done, I’d say it clocked in at around 130,000 words. Now it’s about 67,000. Obviously, it needed a ton of work, and as I got deeper into the revision process, I learned some pretty important lessons about Unstoppable and crafting stories in general. Basically, I needed to find the heart of the matter and get there faster; find the soul of the characters and expose them quicker; and really pinpoint Derek and Victoria’s breaking points and exploit them more harshly. Once I was able to understand those lessons, the story definitely began to take shape.
3) What attracts your two main characters (Derek and Victoria) to each other?
Oh wow, what a great question. What attracts Derek and Victoria to be together? I’d say in the beginning, it was purely physical. Derek thinks it:
She’s gorgeous. The eyes, the lips, the nose, the hair. The sum of the parts is breathtaking, to be sure, but each part is its own thing of beauty. I’m still trying to formulate a reply when she sits down on the couch beside me. Just like that, the party around us fades away, the music and laughter and talking all seems to hush. It’s like a camera zoomed in on us, and everything else is darkness.
And Victoria even says it:
“To be honest, I saw you the minute you walked in…I took one look at you and knew I wanted your attention.”
But after that, it truly is a meeting of the minds. Their psychologies and habits and dreams and desires and fears and insecurities do complement each other. Derek is a homebody and at the end of the day, ultimately wants those 2.5 kids and white picket fence. Victoria is more of a wild child. She’d be on reality TV in a heartbeat if she had her way. (And if…y’know…reality TV still existed in the time of this story.) But that’s what’s wonderful about their relationship: he settles her, and she brings some exuberance into his life.
4) What do you like best about writing? What would you do if you weren’t a writer?
Writing is hard. It is so hard. But I do love certain parts of all the stages of writing for different reasons. When I first have the idea, I love buying a new notebook and pen and just filling the pages without much care or worry. When I’m in the first draft stage, I love just tossing words about and having my characters do things that I know, deep down, probably won’t stay in the story. But it’s a good mental exercise for me—and whether or not the scene stays, it usually bears some sort of fruit for me for later. I love that moment in the revising stage when you get a chapter to read just right. And of course, I absolutely adore the moment when I can finally send the manuscript off to critique partners and, for at least a little while, get it out of my life!
As for what I’d be doing if I weren’t a writer…maybe act? Get back into dancing? I’d definitely still be in the arts in some shape or form. Everyone has a flame in their belly, and the arts is what ignites mine.
5) You’ve done non-fiction/entertainment writing- what made you turn to fiction?
I’ve been an avid reader since I was…I’m not even sure what age, suffice to say it was very young. And I remember thumbing through Harlan Coben’s Tell No One—one of my all-time favorite books—and reading the blurbs at the front.. Larry King and Dennis Lehane and so many others just raved about this story and I remember thinking…That. Is. Awesome. And ever since, I’ve always thought how amazing it would be to have authors say that about me. And then, of course, I thought: I’d better write something!
I owe a serious debt to my contemporaries: Harlan Coben, Sherry Thomas, Lisa Kleypas, Jeaniene Frost, Hank Phillippi Ryan and so many others. They are incredible inspirations.
Be sure to check out Bethany’s book! You won’t be sorry!