Author Interview & Book Giveaway: Try Not to Breathe by Jennifer Hubbard

Welcome to Author Jennifer Hubbard.

I grew up in New England and came to Philadelphia at the age of seventeen. Except for a six-month stint in Atlanta, I have lived in the Philadelphia area ever since. I am a night person who believes that mornings were meant to be slept through, a chocolate lover, and a hiker. I walk every day, and hike on weekends when I can.

I’ve been writing since the age of six, when I used to write and illustrate my own picture books. (Fortunately, none of those early efforts have survived, unless my parents are hiding them for future blackmail plans.) In high school, I considered it fun to come home from school and write novels. My grandfather worked at a printing plant that produced spiral-bound notebooks. Any flaws in the printing or binding process would land the notebooks in the company store at a steep discount, so I always had plenty of notebooks on hand. Now I write on a computer most of the time.

I will read almost anything (see the lists below for some of my favorite books); I prefer to write short fiction and young-adult novels. I had my first short story published when I was seventeen, but it took me many years to write well with consistency, and I continue to learn more every year. My short fiction has appeared in literary magazines such as Willow Review and North American Review. (See “Publications” for more.)

Interview:

Is there a song you could list as the theme song for your book or any of your characters?
Many people have noticed that my book’s title, Try Not to Breathe, is the same as the title of a song by REM. And indeed, I listened to a lot of REM music, including “Try Not to Breathe” (along with “Drive” and “Everybody Hurts”), while I wrote this book. I found an interesting discussion about the song lyrics on the internet: http://popsongs.wordpress.com/2007/05/24/try-not-to-breathe/ It isn’t the original post so much as the discussion in the comments that confirmed my own view of this song’s lyrics: that there are multiple interpretations that work with the words.

In fact, my own book isn’t about the song at all. I chose the title because the phrase “try not to breathe” works well with the specific scenario of Ryan holding his breath under the waterfall, as well as having tried not to breathe in a larger sense when he attempted suicide. In the end, my book is really about recovering from a suicide attempt, about living with hope.

Write a Haiku about your book.
pane-of-glass sorrow

dissolves in a waterfall

life begins again

That’s an oversimplification and not great poetry, but you get the idea!

What is you favorite way to spend a rainy day?
Waking up late, getting to read and write, taking a walk, drying off and having a hot dinner like stew or chili, then watching a movie with my husband.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
I would love to live in the Pacific Northwest, except I’m not sure if I could take all the rain.

What TV show/movie/book do you watch/read that you’d be embarrassed to admit?
I’m not a big fan of “reality TV,” so it has surprised me that I like the show Top Chef so much. Mostly I just like to see what kinds of dishes they can come up with under the crazy conditions. The idea of creating under pressure is familiar to me as a writer, though I’ve never had to create under that kind of pressure!

Favorite smell?
Here are a few: mint, pine, cedar, cumin, lilac, hyacinth, vanilla.

Regular or Diet?
Regular. I’d rather have real treats in moderation than diet versions all the time.

Beach or Pool?

Beach. The seashore is one of my favorite places on earth.
Spontaneity or Planning Ahead?

I like planning ahead with everything except first-draft writing, where I like to wing it.
Action or Drama?

I prefer drama, having the tension arise from emotional conflict between characters. Car chases bore me. But I think a good story should have a mix of action and drama.

Try Not to Breathe

Learning to live is more than just choosing not to die, as sixteen-year-old Ryan discovers in the year following his suicide attempt. Despite his mother’s anxious hovering and the rumors at school, he’s trying to forget the darkness from which he has escaped. But it doesn’t help that he’s still hiding guilty secrets, or that he longs for a girl who may not return his feelings. Then he befriends Nicki, who is using psychics to seek contact with her dead father. This unlikely friendship thaws Ryan to the point where he can face the worst in himself. He and Nicki confide in one another the things they never thought they’d tell anyone—but their confessions are trickier than they seem, and the fallout tests the bounds of friendship and forgiveness.

Giveaway Details
1 signed hardback copy of Try Not to Breathe
Open to US & Canada
Ends 3/8/12

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