Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Girlfriends Cyber Circuit Presents Megan Kelley Hall

I think I've finally got my life more or less back to normal -- just in time to go abnormal all over again. However, I believe I have my agenda for the trip planned out. I just have a few errands to run in preparation, and I need to find a new pair of shoes. My good "fashion" sneakers -- in other words, not big, white running shoes -- have pretty much died. It was one thing when the suede on the outside frayed, but when the holes in the lining at the heel appeared, I knew it was over because that rubs blisters. These were the shoes I bought to celebrate finishing the first draft of Enchanted, Inc., so I suppose they've lived a long, full life. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find anything quite like them to replace them.

I do have one last bit of business that got shoved aside in all the uproar of last week. I'm late on hosting a Girlfriends Cyber Circuit tour. So, without further ado, here's the scoop on The Lost Sister by Megan Kelley Hall. It's the follow-up to the book Sisters of Misery.

Maddie Crane is grappling with the disappearance of Cordelia LeClaire, and trying to escape the grasp of The Sisters of Misery—an insidious clique of the school’s most powerful girls, whose pranks have set off a chain of horrific events, and who have Maddie in their sights…

Now in a prestigious boarding school far away from her mysterious hometown of Hawthorne, Massachusetts , Maddie feels free from danger. But when an unmarked envelope arrives at her dorm containing a single ominous tarot card, Maddie realizes with terror that some secrets won’t stay buried. Knowing she must return to Hawthorne—a town still scarred by the evil of the Salem witch trials—Maddie prepares to face the fears of her past...and the wrath of the sister she wronged.

And now the interview:
Was there any particular inspiration behind this story?
The Lost Sister picks up where Sisters of Misery left off. It shows what happens when someone is pushed too far and when hazing pranks go wrong. It’s a continuation of Sisters of Misery, in that it’s a modern-day retelling of the Salem Witch hunts. It has a sort of fairytale-esque Gothic appeal and it will keep you up at night due the spooky, supernatural events that take place.

What, if anything, do you have in common with your main character?
I grew up in a town similar to Hawthorne on Boston's North Shore. Everyone from my town who has read SISTERS OF MISERY is convinced that Hawthorne is Marblehead, MA, but it's really not. I took a bunch of towns on the North Shore of Boston and smushed them all together to create Hawthorne.

When I was growing up, I was a lot closer to Maddie in terms of personality than Cordelia. I tried to avoid conflict. I watched fights going on around me, but never really wanted to get involved.

Now, I'm the first person to stand up for someone or something when I think it's wrong or unfair. I'm definitely closer to Cordelia's philosophy of life. Anyone who knows me well will tell you that. I don't hold back. After going through many life altering experiences (premature baby, open heart surgery, strokes, losing partial vision) I've learned that life is precious and NO ONE should have to put up with taking crap from ANYONE. We're only given one life--one chance--so you'd better make the best of it and not let anyone or anything stand in your way.

The clique in your books takes the concept of mean girls to a whole new level. When you were in school, would you have been more likely to be one of the Sisters or one of their victims?
I probably would have been watching in horror on the sidelines (actually, that's what I was doing. Watching all these mean things take place and taking mental notes for the book I would write in the future.) I've never actually witnessed severe physical brutality (although I did play in a field hockey game where one girl bit off the earlobe of another girl -- no lie!), but the psychological and emotional tormenting happens more than most people would like to believe.

Which book (or movie or TV show) has left you wanting to keep the lights on all night after reading (or watching) it?
Wow, there aren't many, because I'm a huge fan of scary movies and books. I hate slasher flicks. I'm definitely more of a psychological thriller fan. The Shining has always freaked me out. The Strangers with Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler REALLY freaked me out. Just picturing that guy standing in the background while Liv Tyler waits for Scott Speedman to return gives me the chills. The Blair Witch Project gave me nightmares the first time I saw it. And I simply CANNOT watch or read anything about aliens. I think that might have to do with watching Close Encounters of the Third Kind at a very young age.

What has been your favorite summer vacation ever?
I spent three weeks on the French Riviera, which was totally wasted on a 13 year old, because I was pining away for a lifeguard back home, who clearly had no interest in me. (I still get flutters in my stomach when I hear his name – shhh, don’t tell my husband.). On that trip we visited a medieval town called St. Paul de Vence. We kept running into Tom Hanks and his new bride Rita Wilson. Since the town keeps wrapping around, we kept passing him until the third or so pass, he waved to us and said “Oh, my old friends.” Of course we had to have a picture taken with him.

What are you working on now?
I just finished my third YA novel. It's not a continuation of the SISTERS OF MISERY series (although, I'd love to continue that at some point. Maddie, Cordelia, Finn and I needed a little break from each other.) It's another suspense thriller that is currently being shopped around by my agent and will hopefully be coming to a bookstore near you in the future!

Is there anything else you'd like to say about this book or the process of writing it?
Hmmm... well, I'd like to say that this is my first blog post that I haven't mentioned my unwavering love for Johnny Depp. Whoops...too late. Can't say that anymore. :)

But, seriously, I wrote these books because of the growing trend of bullying. It's absolutely frightening.
THE LOST SISTER and SISTERS OF MISERY are about mean girls, bullying and hazing. Today, almost 6,000,000 kids, nearly 30% of all children, are either bullied or are doing the bullying in this country. Now, for the first time, the American Academy of Pediatrics is stepping in with recommendations and tips to help all involved. There are several current news stories about the subject: the hazing at Miss Porter’s, cyberbullying and a recent study out of the University of Maine stating that 50% of college students admit to enduring some form of hazing in high school.

This type of bullying and hazing is totally unacceptable and frighteningly common, which is why I highlighted it in my books. I'd love to talk to teens about the issues surrounding bullying, because the repercussions are far-reaching and serious. No one should be treated poorly. No one should be made to feel bad about themselves. And sometimes, the worst type of bullying happens among "friends." If there is anything that I would love teens (or all women, for that matter) to take away from these books is that you don't have to put up with being a target for bullying. No one or group is THAT important for you to risk your dignity or your well-being. And if you see it happening to someone else, have the strength to stand up for them. Don't sit on the sidelines and simply be happy that it's not happening to you. Because, guess what, one day it will, especially if you have surrounded yourself with "friends" who can turn on others.

Always surround yourself with people that you respect and who have respect for you. And if you can't find any at your school or your town or in your area, just be patient, because one day, you will find friends that were worth the wait. You don't need a group of people around you to make you feel special. You can be cool and independent and special on your own.

For more info, visit Megan's web site. Or order the book from Amazon.

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