Delilah S. Dawson asks Jennifer R. Hubbard for dark writer secrets!

Delilah S. Dawson interviewed me for this month's YAOTL. You can read about Delilah in her interview back on the 4th of the month. This is the cover of one of Delilah's books:

Don't you love it? It's a story of dark secrets and danger.

And now it's my turn to reveal my own dark secrets! Such as they are.

Q: I see that you recently did some uncluttering and simplifying. We did this last February when we moved, selling or donating over half of our stuff. What was the impetus for your change, and what are three things you could never give up?

A: I have never really done this before—I’ve done a little small-scale weeding over the years, but never a thorough top-to-bottom clearing out. Therefore, I have accumulated a lifetime’s worth of stuff. And it feels oppressive. There is too much to clean, to keep track of, and not enough space. In my writing, I like plenty of white space. I would like some in my physical environment, too.

I’m trying to detach to the point that there’s nothing I couldn’t give up. After all, to be really philosophical, eventually we must let go of everything—it’s only a question of how and when. But here are three things I won’t be giving up any time soon: My vinyl copy of the Rolling Stones’ Hot Rocks album. My wedding pictures. The very first copy of my first published book.

Q: Your blog has an interesting link on the topic of MFAs and writers. What advice would you give a high school student who wanted to be a writer as they planned the next ten years of their life? What path did you take, and what would you have done differently?

 A: I decided to pursue another field in which I was very interested (environmental science), and to make that my day job. There are a few advantages to going this route: There’s likely to be more job security, both financially and emotionally. It opens up another part of human experience: your whole day is not just about writing and writers. It gives you a chance to make a difference through something else besides words. It may give you something to write about.

But there are also advantages to majoring in language or writing: You’re able to immerse yourself in what you love, and maybe even do it full time. You meet others who are doing the same thing.

There’s no one right answer. I think it depends on the answers to these questions: How much risk can you tolerate—financially and emotionally? How much do you need to live on? Do you have or need another source of income? Where will your emotional support come from? Is there anything else you’re good at, anything else you want to do, anything else you could do?

And the courses are not irreversible. You can start down one path and switch later on.

 Q: I *love* the cover of UNTIL IT HURTS TO STOP. Were you at all involved in its inception?

 A: I’m glad you like it! I do, too. The extent of my involvement was admiring it and telling my publisher how good it looked. :-)

 I haven’t really had a say in any of my covers, but it’s just as well. I’m not an artist, a designer, or a marketer. I don’t know what makes large numbers of people pick up a book. This is one area in which I’m happy to have a team of people who know more about design and marketing than I do.

Q: Reading the book's description on Amazon, I'm painfully reminded of my own 7th grade experience. Were you bullied at that age? What was the story seed that obsessed you enough to write this book?

A: Yes, I was bullied. I noticed that bullying tended to be strongest in the middle-school years, 5th to 8th grade. But it affects people’s mindsets for years afterward. Plenty of adults carry those psychological scars. The way we are treated affects how we think of ourselves, and how we interact with others.

And so, for this book, I chose to come at it from that angle: a high-school girl who was bullied, whose bully had moved away but has just returned to town. Now she has to face her past and how it affects the present.

Q: What's next on your writing plate?

A: I have some projects that are in the preliminary stages where I don’t discuss them in detail. I will say that the past year was very rough for me, writing-wise, but that this summer things finally started clicking again.

Q: What's your favorite writing event, con, or festival that you've attended?

A: I won’t say favorite, because there are so many good events it’s hard to choose. But some events I’ve really enjoyed have been the Pennsylvania Library Association conference—I love speaking to librarians, or teachers for that matter; book festivals like the Hudson (NY) Children’s Book Festival; and writers’ conferences like the New England SCBWI conference.

My local independent children’s bookstore, Children’s Book World in Haverford, PA, hosted launch parties for all three of my books. The launch event for my most recent one, the bullying book, was an authors’ panel called, “Outsiders Speak Up!” featuring Jon Gibbs, Ellen Jensen Abbott, Alison Ashley Formento, K. M. Walton, and me. I really enjoyed that--I find that I often prefer to do events with groups of writers. We had a great discussion with the audience.

Thank you, Delilah, for such interesting questions!


  1. Great interview! Children's Book World is such an awesome indie bookstore. Love it there.

  2. I'm in the process of uncluttering, too. Feels good...


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