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!
AND NOW, THE GIVEAWAY:
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: