Today is another round of Thirteen Thursday. I think this is one of the best interviews I've had---but maybe I'm biased because I love The Mockingbirds and Daisy Whitney even more. She's a great woman with lots of insight and encouragement; she's also a bazillion car loads of fun and has great shoes.
So, let's carry on now....Welcome Daisy to Thirteen Thursday!
The world is about to be destroyed by evil yellow alien monkeys. You are the only one who can save it and you have at your disposal: a hanger, duct tape, a hammer, hairspray and a pair of 8-inch stilettos. What would you do?
Duct tape them all together and call the authorities. Then I'd style my hair and spray it in place. Next, I'd use the hammer to turn the 8-inch stilettos into four-inchers and head out for a date with my husband to celebrate the world being saved and fashion living on! You have one minute to save something out of your closet. What would you grab?
A box of memories I keep of a lost loved one. You have a lot of jobs: creator/host of “New Media Minute," host of “This Week in Media”, Advertising Age and The Hollywood Reporter contributor, and ad:tech and iMedia conference programmer. Oh, and that writing thing. Are you trying to take over world? But really, how do you find the balance to do it all?
I'm a big proponent of all things being possible with effective time management! I'm very good at segmenting my schedule and allocating time for my different clients, jobs and responsibilities, so that I have time for the most important things -- being with my family. As for fitting in writing, there is always time to do what you love and that often means making the most of your time. I bring my computer with me to many places, so I can snag writing time in between appointments and meetings, during my kids' swim lessons, while on planes and trains and ferries! When you look at what you have done, what are the thing that stick out for you as the most memorable or most life-changing moments?
I am most proud of my children, my marriage, my writing and of completing the Death Ride, a 129-mile one-day bike ride over five mountain passes with 16,000 feet of climbing -- I am not an athlete and I finished this ride on sheer determination alone. Everyone has a different story. Tell us what your journey to writing has been like.
I've been a journalist for 15 years, so writing has been a natural fixture of my professional life. I've made my living as a writer since I was 23, so by the time I was ready to write novels I already had the daily discipline from reporting in place! I really want to talk about The Mockingbirdsbecause I love it. A huge theme in this book is To Kill a Mockingbirdby Harper Lee. How did this connection happen? To Kill a Mockingbird is the canonical story of justice, honor and doing the right thing. When looking for a name for the secret society in my book -- they are a student-run, underground justice system that rights the wrongs of their peers -- To Kill a Mockingbird was the natural fit for their name, inspiration and tactics. Alex’s voice is strong in this story, even when she’s not sure what’s going on with herself or what's happening around her. Where did she come from and how did you develop her voice? Alex clicked for me from the very first chapter. She is a natural observer and sees people and possibilities unspooling in front of her. When she describes events, situations and people, she very much sees them as images unfolding into various options. Knowing this about her, it was relatively easy for me to then see how she would regard and react to different circumstances. This book is based somewhat off of a personal experience. What was it like connecting to a character who went through similar things as you? Was it easier or harder to write?
Like Alex, I was date-raped when I was a teenager. I was 18 and a freshman in college. I wrote this book nearly 18 years after that experience and my distance from it as well as the necessary and vital healing I went through made it possible for me to tap into what Alex would be feeling, without the writing of it feeling like a blood-letting for me. So, time, in effect was my best friend -- giving me the lens through which to look back and understand everything Alex was going through, but the emotional space so I didn't feel like I was reliving it.
The Mockingbirds tackles a topic that doesn’t get discussed a lot in YA and is almost taboo in society. Why did you want to tell this story?
I believe in the power of speaking up and I wanted to show that speaking up for yourself can occur in many different ways. The prevalence of date rape is astounding too. According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network), 1 in 6 women will be a victim of sexual assault during her lifetime and girls ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault. Also, half of the reported date rapes occur among teenagers, according to the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault. BUT, while adults want to believe a teen would come to them for help, teens are more likely to turn to a peer. According to a study conducted by The Northern Westchester Shelter, with Pace Women’s Justice Center, about 83% of 10th graders said they would sooner turn to a friend for help with dating abuse than a teacher, counselor, parent or other caring adult.