Have you read AUDREY, WAIT! by Robin Benway? If you haven't, go pick it up - it's the hilarious story of Audrey and her life after her ex's song about their breakup becomes a runaway hit. And I think of it every time I wear my (now infamous) arm warmers!
What does Robin have up next, you ask? Well, she's here to chat about THE EXTRAORDINARY SECRETS OF APRIL, MAY & JUNE...and even share a few secrets of her own. Welcome, Robin!
THE EXTRAORDINARY SECRETS OF APRIL, MAY & JUNE is about three sisters who discover that they have superpowers soon after their parents divorce. They find themselves trying to figure out what's happening to themselves while also trying to salvage their relationships as sisters.
Holly Cupala: So what's the story behind the story, Robin? Where did April, May, and June come from?
Robin Benway: I actually saw a tattoo on a male model that read "April May June"and I immediately thought, "Those are girls' names." It didn't occur to me until later that they're obviously also months of the year, so I took that as a sign that I should be doing something with those names. I knew that they were sisters, and that they were each a year apart in age, but it took several days before I realized that they had something...special.
In the book, April (the eldest) can see the future, May (middle child extraordinaire) becomes invisible, and June (youngest) can read minds. The idea of who gets what superpower just fell into place so naturally. What's worse than a little sister who reads your diary? A little sister who reads your mind. I was so excited to play with the characters and find out how they related to one another and to themselves.
HC: What was it like to write three very different sisters?
RB: I found out that it's a lot harder to write a book from 3 different points of view than I thought it would be! At first, I thought just one sister (April) would narrate the whole story, but I came to realize that all three girls needed to have a voice. It was difficult, but I think it became a much better book when the sisters each had a chance to tell their story.
I was also sort of surprised at how the superpowers unfolded. At first, I thought that April, May & June would be fighting the Big Bad Evil Thing and saving the world and that whole thing, but then I realized that AMJ is not that book. The superpowers became a sort of metaphor for those things that make you different in high school, and how isolated you can feel because of that difference. It's an age-old superpower theme, but I wanted to see what would happen when the girls had to work together, date, even just walk through the high school hallways. What happens if you disappear when you get nervous? Will you ever be able to kiss a guy? EVER? What happens if you get braver? Will you still disappear, or will you be strong enough to stay present? Each sister faced these sorts of challenges, which I was TOTALLY not expecting!
The powers are also a bond of sorts, one that the girls can't share with anyone else (not even their parents), and it's something that they can't escape. This is who they are and they have to deal with it, so no matter what happens, they really do have to rely on one another. As a writer, it was so much fun to dig through and discover what would happen to the girls. I really can't describe what a thrill it was to get to know my characters. I miss writing them terribly.
HC: Was there any real life inspiration for the story?
RB: My parents divorced when I was twelve years old, and when I was writing about the parents in "AMJ", I found myself remembering details of my parents' divorce that I hadn't thought about in years. They weren't necessarily sad or happy details, but they were significant, and I tried to put them into the girls' stories.
Writing about divorce in this book made me look back at my own experiences growing up, but it also made remember high school in a way that was different from how I remembered it when I was writing Audrey, Wait! I recalled just dreading every morning of high school. Like, "Please please please do not make me have to go back there." I also remember thinking, "I wish something would happen today." I didn't care what it was--surprise fire drill, the guy I had a crush on would talk to me, whatever--but I just wanted something to break up the monotony of six periods separated by a 45-minute lunch break. In "AMJ", the sisters all have this feeling in their own way. And, of course, something does, in fact, happen. Big time.
HC: Who or what inspires you now?
RB: For writing, I get inspired by all sorts of things. It could be a photograph like the one that inspired "AMJ", or a song that I hear on the radio, or a comment that a friend makes. I also love (and I apologize for this in advance) eavesdropping on teenagers. The things they say to one another are so clever and funny and heart-wrenching. I wish I could write half as well as they speak sometimes.
HC: What’s up next?
RB: I'm working on something right now, and as soon as I can talk about it, I will. I swear. Cross my heart.
Fellow rgz diva Melissa Walker did a cool cover story on AUDREY, WAIT! here, and check out the APRIL, MAY & JUNE trailer: