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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Interview with Bree Despain

I had the amazing opportunity to interview Bree Despain, author of The Dark Divine!

Summary: Grace Divine, daughter of the local pastor, always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared—the night she found her brother Jude collapsed on the porch, covered in his own blood—but she has no idea what a truly monstrous secret that night held.

The memories her family has tried to bury resurface when Daniel returns, three years later, and enrolls in Grace and Jude's high school. Despite promising Jude she'll stay away, Grace cannot deny her attraction to Daniel's shocking artistic abilities, his way of getting her to look at the world from new angles, and the strange, hungry glint in his eyes.

The closer Grace gets to Daniel, the more she jeopardizes her life, as her actions stir resentment in Jude and drive him to embrace the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth behind the boy's dark secret...and the cure that can save the ones she loves. But she may have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice to do it—her soul.


Q: What inspired you to write The Dark Divine?

A: Lots of things inspired the story, including a random memory from the 9th grade, a book I had just recently read at the time (Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson), some great music I would listen to, etc. But mostly what sparked the story was a conversation between a brother and a sister that popped into my head one night as I was driving home. The brother was warning his sister to stay away from a former friend who had recently returned. I was so intrigued by what was going on between these two and why the brother would want his sister to stay away from this friend; that I had to know the whole story.

Q: What was your querying process like?

A: When I queried the book the first time, I received several “I like it, but I’m not in love with it” comments. I decided something was missing from the story and shelved it for a few months while I worked on another project. But as I was working on this other project, I kept getting new ideas for The Dark Divine story. I took it back off the shelf and rewrote ¾ of the book while adding another 100 pages. After several revisions, and a lot of research on agents I thought would be a good fit for the story, I queried the book again. I started with my top agent choice (I know… who does that?) as well as a few others. I received some manuscript requests, including one from my top choice agent, and a few anxiety filled weeks later he offered me representation.

Q: Many of us aspiring authors have dreamed about the Call. What was yours like?

A: When my agent was calling me to tell me that my manuscript had an offer, I actually didn’t recognize the number and thought it was a telemarketing call. Fortunately, he left me a message telling me to call him back right away. . . so about 0.25 seconds later I call him back and he says, “you screening my calls?” Then he says to me, “Well, I’ve got some bad news. . . I can’t call you one of my unpublished clients anymore.” I squeed really loud and then got mad at him for making me think it was bad news. The happy dance didn’t stop for several days after that.

Q: What authors have influenced you as a writer?

A: As I mentioned before, Laurie Halse Anderson has had a big impact on me as a reader and as a writer. Some of my other favorites that have helped me to find my own voice are Martine Levitt, Meg Cabot, and Elizabeth Peters.

Q: Your main character, Grace, has been raised in a religious household. Was your upbringing similar to Grace’s?

A: Yes. Sort of ☺. My dad isn’t a pastor, but I do have a very close-knit and religious family.

Q: Grace and Daniel share a passion for art. Have you always had a love for art as well?

A: Absolutely. I used to paint as a teenager, but the real talent in my family is in my younger brother. I often asked him for advice when it came to talking about the art stuff in the book.

Q: Why did Grace remain attracted to Daniel through the years he was gone?

A: Grace always had a connection to Daniel. It was something they shared as children, and he was really her first crush. I think Grace thought she had moved on, but when he shows up again, a lot of those emotions come back.

Q: You’ve said that you are working on the sequel to The Dark Divine. Is there anything you can tell us about it? Are you working on something other than the sequel?

A: Just the sequel for now. I can’t say much, but I’m enjoying exploring some of the questions that are left unanswered at the end of the first book.

Q: In your bio, you state that you took a semester off college to work with underprivileged teens. Did this experience change you as a person and a writer? If so, how?

A: This experience was really what put me on the path to becoming an author. I’d always loved writing, but I also always thought being an author was only for the extraordinary. The time I spent with those kids, writing those plays, helped me to realize that writing was what I was passionate about and that I wanted to write for the teen audience.

Q: Did you always know that you wanted to write young adult novels? More specifically, paranormal? Did you test other genres before settling on teens as your audience?

A: I always knew that I wanted to write young adult, because that is where my voice is, but I didn’t always want to be a paranormal romance author. I actually fought it as first with The Dark Divine. I knew it needed to be a paranormal story, but I didn’t want it to be. But once I embraced it, I learned to love it. After The Dark Divine series, I have a couple other paranormal book ideas that I’ve been working on that I’m excited about, but I don’t think I will always write paranormal. I have a lot of fun ideas brewing for some contemporary YA too..

Q: In your opinion, what is the best part about writing young adult fiction?

A: The best part is getting to tap into my inner teen, because I never quite grew up. But also, the YA audience is an awesome group to write for. They are just beginning to find out who they are as individuals, and are a very enthusiastic and smart crowd. My favorite quote is when Sherman Alexi said, “writing YA fiction is like writing Adult fiction without all the BS.”


Anonymous said...

Really great interview! :)

Melissa said...

Great interview! I head the pleasure of meeting her, and she is so sweet in person...totally genuine :)

bclement412 said...


@Melissa: You met her? Wow I'm jealous! She was so nice through email, I can only imagine how great she was in person!

choco (In Which a Girl Reads) said...

Awesome interview!

I really need to read the Dark Divine, I love the cover :D

M.J. Horton said...

Awesome, awesome interview!
You are brilliant BC!

bclement412 said...

I read it in less than 2 days. It was great.

And brilliant? Lol thanks MJ! You made me blush :)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I am halfway through this book and loving it! Great interview. :-)

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