I had the honor of conducting my first interview for OPWFT with Bethany Griffin, author of the amazing Handcuffs. I want to thank everyone who left comments a few weeks ago with questions for Bethany or stories of handcuff experiences. The winner of Handcuffs and an amazing batik journal with bookmark was Alissa! She was chosen by a random number system by someone not associated with OPWFT. On to the interview
First off, I really loved Handcuffs and think you did an awesome job.
By far the most asked question is one I know the answer to but will ask anyway so the readers will have the answer too. Have you ever had an experience with handcuffs? And if yes, care to elaborate?
Actually the only experience I had was trying out the logistics of the scene, with the office chair and all, figuring out where he was sitting and what was going on… Now since the book came out I keep getting gifts of handcuffs, I even have a pair (from a librarian) in my car’s glove box. But no, I didn’t have any extensive handcuffs experience.
Another question that seems to be burning on everyone’s mind: Was there a reason the boy had no name? Was there a deep literary meaning?
I guess from that standpoint I liked the fact that you could tell it was him without a name being used. Parker is so aware of him. I kind of wanted to see how long I could keep it up, and I was able to do it for the entire manuscript. It was one of the things I really hoped no one would want to change, and luckily, no one suggested it be changed!
Why choose handcuffs instead of duct tape or rope?
I never thought of duct tape or rope. In the scene he pulls the Handcuffs out of his pocket and asks Parker if she wants to have some fun. I don’t think duct tape would have the same effect.
Moving on to your writing career.
Do you have anything in the works? And at what stage are those works?
I wrote a realistic contemporary after Handcuffs called Greedy. The main character is bisexual, though that’s just part of the plot. Delacorte didn’t feel it was the right follow up for Handcuffs, and my agent has subbed it to a few houses. I just sent a new manuscript to my agent. It’s pretty different, not realistic contemp, in fact, as it’s a retelling of a famous story, a Poe story, in fact. I’m referring to it as A Tale told by an English Teacher . Until I talk to my agent about it, I guess I’m not revealing any major details, though I did excerpt it on teaser tuesday once.
I know you are a teacher, and from what I understand a really cool one. Why did you choose to write YA?
The coolness is probably up for debate. I tried MG once and never finished anything, I think I need a bit of edginess and sexual tension to make me finish the story. I don’t have any strong motivation to write for adults, though I guess I’d try it if I had time and ideas.
Were there sacrifices you had to make or you family had to make while you were writing? If so, at what stage were the sacrifices the hardest?
I gave up on a certain amount of interaction with my kids, and having a social life, and watching television. I’d say the stuff with the kids was the hardest, but I’m not sure parents should be with their young kids every minute, so paying someone to watch them three days a week during the summer didn’t permanently damage any of us, and neither did sending them to Grammas every other weekend.
Please give us writers some advice or tell us what might have helped you get through:
The writing stage:
I got through this really fast with Handcuffs. Revisions were a bit hard, but it was a fast process, and exciting. I think that wanting to know how everything got resolved is what got me through it.
The querying stage:
This one was exciting too. I like to relate that I got seven requests before I got any rejections. I ended up with about a 50/50 rejection/request rate, but being at 100% was pretty exciting. So, I guess the excitement got me through this part.
The subbing stage:
At four weeks I thought it wasn’t going to sell and I started revising it for a second round of subs. Then, at 5 weeks, it sold! I just tried to keep my mind off of it, I guess. I was insanely nervous, and afraid it wouldn’t sell.
Waiting to see your work in print:
That was a long process. I just kept working on other stuff. And living life, and only thinking and talking about it occasionally.
If you could spend time with one author living or dead who would it be and why?
I always say Stephen King cause I’ve read enough of his stuff to really have a conversation and you know he’d be interesting.
Favorite ice cream flavor?
Balderdash, or Taboo, or on the computer it would be Sid Meijer’s Civilization!!!!
Handcuffs is well worth the read so if you haven’t read it, go get it Thanks Bethany for the awesome interview!
Original interview published on Old People Writing for Teens by GotYA contributor Jennifer Wood. To view the original post and reader comments, please click here.