Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Women Who Rock Wednesday: Holly Cupala!

Welcome to Women Who Rock Wednesday! Before we begin, I want to announce the winner of Wendy Toliver's book LIFTED... Erica aka The Book Cellar!

Today I am featuring a debut YA author who I've had the pleasure of hanging out with at both BEA and ALA and have decided she has the best taste in dresses of practically anyone I know (and I am a huge dress fanatic so it's a big compliment).... Holly Cupala! Her novel TELL ME A SECRET came out last week and I bought it at ALA and have moved it to the top of my TBR pile because it sounds beyond amazing.

Holly did something extra special for Women Who Rock Wednesday and recorded a video that will introduce you to the book. Check out Holly reading from TELL ME A SECRET:

Q: Tell us about TELL ME A SECRET, for my readers who may not have heard about it yet, what it is it about? What inspired you to write this particular story, which from my read of your two-chapter teaser, deals with some very important issues, not just teen pregnancy, but figuring out who you are, especially in the face of grief?

Holly: A little bit about TELL ME A SECRET: for five years, Miranda has been holding her family together after the mysterious death of her bad-girl sister, Xanda. One more year before she escapes her suffocating mother and disappearing father for good, on the arm of her dreamy boyfriend. Until then, she has a dangerous new friend to unlock her sister’s world…and a secret of her own. Two lines on a pregnancy test mean losing everything—and possibly finding her own future.

It was inspired by a very very hard period in my life. I almost quit writing, but some wonderful friends encouraged me through a major loss. The story came to me in a flash, and I started writing…it was difficult until I began to find the hope in it, and Miranda’s voice came to me. From there it grew into something all its own.

Q: If TELL ME A SECRET had a soundtrack, what are some of the songs that would be on it and why?

Holly: It just so happens TELL ME A SECRET does have a soundtrack:

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Our friend Kasson, of Symbion Project/Splashdown/Freezepop/Harmonix, makes us these amazing mixes, and one of them contained a number of the songs on this playlist. I listened to it quite a bit, and apparently a lot of the themes trickled into the story. Plus I especially love his work with Melissa Kaplan of Universal Hall Pass/Splashdown. The book trailer is coming soon and features one of my favorite Splashdown songs!

Q: Who are some of the people that inspired you to become a writer or keep writing? Since it is Women Who Rock Wednesday, we particularly love to hear about the women, but feel free to include men too.

Holly: The women writers who have rocked my world: Laurie Halse Anderson, Rachel Cohn, K.L. Going, Ellen Hopkins, Deb Caletti, Sara Zarr, the readergirlz divas, and my many wonderful writing friends in Seattle who have walked with me through the writing journey.

Q: What's next for you? What are you working on now?

Holly: A second YA (tentatively titled STREET CREED) is slated for Fall 2011—it’s about a suburban girl who runs away to the streets of Seattle and falls in with a band of homeless kids, one of whom she has seen and fallen in love with before ever leaving home. She has secrets she’s left behind, and every character has them. She must make a terrible choice, and she learns a lot about what it means to love.

Q: Since you live in Seattle and I am dying to move there, torture me a little bit and tell me your favorite thing about living in Seattle.

Holly: Oh…so many favorite things, Stephanie! When it’s beautiful out, the city just sparkles like nowhere else on earth. The downside is that it’s not so beautiful most of the year, and that’s when you comfort yourself with excellent international food, the arts, and good friends. When you come visit, you’ve got a place to stay.

Q: I have two standard questions for my women who rock. The first is a two-parter. What was the first album you bought and the first concert you attended? Be honest, we don't judge :)

Holly: I’m going to embarrass myself with this one! My parents didn’t let me listen to secular music growing up, so of course I listened to it every chance I got—mostly mainstream, because it was a pretty small town with just one Top 40 station. But then I had this boyfriend in junior year who introduced me to Echo and the Bunnymen, New Order, The Smiths…good stuff. I think my first purchased album was probably Depeche Mode’s Violator. I didn’t go to concerts until college, but I remember seeing Cowboy Junkies and Depeche Mode and Green Day, and India Arie when she opened for somebody. She was great.

Q: Please dish about the moment where you felt most like a rock star. Maybe it was a moment of big success in your career, an "I'm Not Worthy!" Wayne's World type moment where you met someone cool, or a time where you just got the rock star treatment.

Holly: That would have to be the day of the sale. My agent is a wicked, wicked man. He’d only been subbing my manuscript for three weeks, but he didn’t say one word about the interest brewing. Then, right before I was going to hop on the plane for the SCBWI conference in LA, he called and said, “We have a pre-empt offer for two books.” From my number one editor. I don’t think I ever boarded that plane…I think I sprouted rock star wings and flew myself. Then, my wonderful-husband-favorite-person-ever sent me this Giant bouquet of red roses. They were so big that I took them out to the SCBWI table for everyone to enjoy, and Lin announced it to the whole crowd. What a moment.

Today's Contest:

Now that you have learned more about Holly and heard her read from TELL ME A SECRET, you probably want the book more than anything, right? Well, you are in luck! Holly is giving out a signed copy to one lucky winner.

To enter all you have to do is leave a comment. However you can gain additional entries:

+1 for tweeting or posting on facebook about this interview
+1 for tweeting or posting about TELL ME A SECRET
+1 for sharing the video of Holly reading
+5 for blogging about TELL ME A SECRET

Note your additional entries in your comment as well as giving me an email address or some way to contact you if you win.

Please note that due to postage expenses, this contest is for US mailing addresses only.

I'll announce the winner next week when my guest is Gina Frangello!


holly cupala said...

Thanks for inviting me to Women Who Rock, Stephanie! It was great to see you again at ALA.

Jordan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kelly said...

Holly is a woman who rocks! What a great Wednesday blog post!! Great questions!

jpetroroy said...

Great interview! :)

jpetroroy at gmail dot com

bkobsessed17 said...

Great interview! I love all the authors you mentioned~ Ellen Hopkins is one my favorites. I read the first 2 chps of TMAS and I loved it!! I can't wat to read it- literally I think.

+1 for sharing the video and blogging about TMAS:

+1 for tweeting about the interview
+1 for tweeting about TMAS:

Erica said...

I loved the video! Street Creed sounds awesome.

Jeremy West said...

Awesome interview! I've really been wanting to read this book! I also tweeted this Thanks!

Bookaholic (Jessica) said...

Loved the interview and video!

+1 tweet about contest:


Bee said...

I'm so excited about this book. I won it at a giveaway and I can't wait for it to get here.
Also, I can already tell Street Creed's gonna be awesome!

And, Stephanie, I ordered Ballads of Suburbia on Amazon and it can't get here quicker!


Jordan said...

So, ignore my other post !:)

+1 for tweeting or posting on facebook about this interview
+1 for tweeting or posting about TELL ME A SECRET
+1 for sharing the video of Holly reading
+5 for blogging about TELL ME A SECRET

I posted the first two last night on twitter, so you might have to scroll down alittle bit!

Also, my blog URL is

Erika Lynn said...

+1 for tweeting about the interview

+1 tweeting about TMAS


holly cupala said...

Thanks, everyone! It's nice to see new and familiar faces! Shout-out to Erica, who I met at the Teen Author Carnival - congrats on your win!

Jessy said...

Loved the reading! Thanks for another great blog stop.

Tweeted interview:

Tweeted TMAS:

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Thanks for doing the interview Holly and I am so glad to see so many people as psyched for this book as I am!

And Bee, I hope you enjoy Ballads!!!

Yan said...

Oh new music! I just so happened to play some of my old playlists again and thought to myself that these just were not working out.

TELL ME A SECRET sounds awesome!


Cass said...

Thanks for the great interview, and the video/preview sounds good. :)


Liviania said...

I don't think Holly's musical history was embarrasing at all!