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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Story Secrets: DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS by C.J. Omololu + Giveaway!

It's very exciting (and I do feel a bit secretive) to be talking with DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS author C.J. Omololu (known in the blogosphere as Cynjay, or Cythia). DLS was a Borders Original Voices selection and has been garnering lots of buzz. PLUS we have a copy to give away!

When Cyn and I realized, along with Jenn Hubbard, that we all had secrets to share in our 2010 debuts, we formed the Circle of Secrets...

So I'm very excited to get to chat with Cyn about her own novel secrets - welcome, Cyn!


In DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS, a girl finds her mother dead in their hoarded home. As she’s spent her entire life trying to keep the hoarding a secret, she has to decide how far she’ll go to keep the secrets safe. The book takes place over less than 24 hours, and leads her to the only logical conclusion in the end. Despite how dark it sounds, I like to think of it as a hopeful story, of one girl who finally stands up and takes charge. And there’s a little romance, just because.

Holly: Hoarding is such a fascinating topic - what sparked the idea for DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS?

I was on an airplane, which is the only place I usually get to read “girl” magazines. I read an article about hoarding in Marie Claire and thought that it would make an interesting story. I’ve known some hoarders in my life, although I didn’t grow up like Lucy did, so it was fairly easy to picture the setting. I ended up doing some research with the woman that was featured in the story purely by accident. It wasn’t until later that I realized that my original inspiration came from her.

Holly: I have a neighbor who is a hoarder, and I always wonder what it must be like for her. How did you get into Lucy's head and portray the story so vividly?

I got really involved in the hoarding community. Three women from the website Children of Hoarders helped me immensely and I learned everything I could about the disorder. Shortly after I turned in my final draft to the publisher, A&E started running their hit series Hoarders, so now the subject is much more at the forefront.

Holly: In a way, it's good timing that hoarding is now more in the public consciousness, even though it can take years to write a novel. How long did it take you to write, and did it evolve as you revised?

The first draft only took three months, which is pretty short for me. I revised with my agent and then with my editor, but the editorial revisions were really pretty minor. The biggest evolution came about the ending. I was originally going to end the story completely differently, but one of my hoarding “experts” suggested the book end the way it does now. Basically, she insisted. I’m not going to give away any spoilers, but at first I was horrified and said no. It took all three of my experts to finally convince me that this was the only possible way that Lucy’s story could end. Luckily, my publisher was on board with it.

Holly: Have your own experiences helped you tell Lucy's story?

I didn’t start writing until a few years ago and originally I felt like I’d wasted a lot of time. Now though, I think that if I’d started writing earlier, I wouldn’t have had much to say. I’ve spent decades listening and learning about people from all walks of life and I think that helps me to visualize my story as I write. I’ve done a lot of things in my life – I’ve stayed in Scotland, Australia, Texas and San Francisco, ridden motorcycles, had about a million roommates and dated a lot of boys in bands ;) all before I finally settled down, got married and had kids. I’m one of those writers who sees a movie in my head and just basically transcribes what is happening. Writing to me is more like acting, except I act everything out inside rather than on a stage. My biggest fear is that one day the movie in my head will go dark, but so far, so good.

Holly: That's exactly how I see stories! Like a movie - I even say the lines as I'm writing (until now, I thought that was pretty odd...maybe it still is!). So are there any secrets you're willing to share?

Um…writing secrets or regular secrets? I have a tattoo that most people never see, and if the next book sells I’m going to get another one. I don’t recommend anyone get a tattoo before the age of 35. Not for any reason other than something you pick when you’re 20 will undoubtedly look stupid by the time you’re 40. Take my word on that one.

Holly: What’s up next for you?

I’m in love with my next project which is completely different from DLS. I always said I’d never write a paranormal and I’d never write a series. Turns out, you should never say never...


Thank you, Cyn!


Cyn has generously offered a copy of DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS to one lucky commenter! Just leave a comment below telling us a) why you'd love to read DLS, b) if you've ever hidden something important from your friends, or c) what you'd do if you had to choose between revealing a terrible secret and saving someone you love.

As usual, the contest closes on Monday at 5pm PST. Be sure to include a way to contact you, and good luck!

Check out this cool book trailer:


  1. Awesome interview!

    I would love to read Dirty Little Secrets because it sounds very interesting. I want to know what happens!

    pirate_pony2 at yahoo dot com

  2. I've already read DLS and loved it, but I don't own a copy. It was one of my favorite books of the year thus far, so I would love to have it around to read again and again.

    If I had to choose between saving someone and revealing a secret, I'd like to believe that I would choose to save someone I love. However, as Lucy shows, circumstances have a lot to do with that decision, and you never quite know what you're going to do until you're in the moment.

    Thanks for the giveaway! I can be contacted at reclusivebibliophile@gmail.com

  3. I've been wanting to read Dirty Little Secrets for a while. Everyone keeps talking about how great it is. And Cyn's next project is a paranormal series? OOOOO!!!

    In high school, I had a crush on my best friend's boyfriend. I know, very cliche, but I did. I never told any of my other friends because I was positive they'd tell her. We'd all hang out and he'd always be there. I felt like I was in my own personal version of heaven and hell, lol.

  4. This sounds fascinating. I'd love to read out to find out what the 'ending' she decided upon was.

    jpetroroy at gmail dot com

  5. I have been wanting to read DLS for awhile. I have heard great things about it.

    I would probably save someone I love because facing the aftermath of sharing the secret is sometimes worse than keeping the secret to yourself.

    Thanks so much hosting! :)

  6. I would love to read this. When I was little, I had to keep the secret my father was an alcholic from all my friends. It was not fun.

  7. I want to read DLS because I really like the concept and I've read so many great reviews on this! I'm genuinely interested in it.


  8. I've already read DLS as well, but do not own a copy and would love to have one for myself. I admit I have kept things from my friends. It's been difficult, but almost as though I feel not everyone needs to know EVERYTHING.

    As far as saving someone or revealing a secret. I think my answer above lets you know what I would do. I think preserving dignity is important and while a part of me wanted Lucy to just let it out, I understand why the outcome was what it was. I can't say whether I would make the same decision.


  9. I've read a few reviews of Dirty Little Secrets and it sounds like an interesting book. This is the first YA book I've heard of that deals with hoarding, so I'm interested in reading it to see how the issue was handled. Would love to get my hands on a copy!


  10. I have a (bad) habit of hiding secrets from people who are important to me. Mostly, I just am a pretty private person, but sometimes, it can be good to open up a little and let someone know what's going on. I've found a few people who I feel I can trust over the last few years, and it's been very rewarding. I'm not saying that I tell these people everything, but I'm not as closed off as I once was. I think that hoarding material items is kinda like what I do, except I do it to my thoughts and feelings and experiences. I don't hoard stuff you can see, but stuff I think and feel. Probably both manifestations are not super healthy!

  11. Oops. Email. hderaps(at)mbrsd(dot)org

  12. No, I've never kept anything important from a friend.


  13. Thanks, everyone, for stopping by to chat about secrets - I'm good at keeping other people's, but terrible at keeping my own.

  14. I've really wanted to read this ever since I found out what it's about. I love books that take place in only a day, it's really interesting to see how just a day can make a difference:) Also, I've heard lots of great things about this, I can't wait to read and see what I think about it!
    Thanks for this contest!


  15. I would love to read Dirty Little Secrets. I always watch the Hoarding reality shows on TV and sometimes I feel like my family has hoarding tendancies.

    I have kept a secret from a friend. I eventually ended up telling her months later though and we had a good laugh.

    Even if a secret was too horrifying to me to reveal, I would still do it to save someone who was important to me. It is more important to be honest with others and yourself.

    Please enter me!

    clderwee at gmail dot com

  16. I would love to read Dirty Little Secrets because I don't know much about the effects of hoarding. I think it will be interesting to see how a teenager would deal with this problem.

  17. I would always pick to reveal a terrible secret about myself if it could save someone I love. They are more important than my pride.

    - Jessica

  18. I would pick to reveal a terrible secret, because despite what it would mean, I'd be saving someone I loved!

    :) Erica

  19. If it involved saving the life of one of my children I'd spill in a heart beat!

    foltzsfantasticbooks at gmail.com

  20. I want to read Dirty Little Secrets because a) I've heard great things about it and b) Because it sounds so original and don't know of any other books like it.

    If I had to choose between revealing an awful secret and saving the person I love, I'd definitely choose the latter.

    Thanks for the awesome contest. :D


  21. I'd love to read Dirty Little Secrets! It sounds like a great book! I've been hearing a lot about hoarders lately [t.v. shows, etc.] and want to learn more about this disorder. Maybe this book will teach me a little.

    kayla3194 at gmail dot com