Interview with Becca Fitzpatrick

Posted by Goodreads on October 14, 2014
Readers first fell for Becca Fitzpatrick's storytelling in her debut Hush, Hush series, a love story between a high school girl, Nora, and a fallen angel, Patch, set against a battle between powerful forces. The bestseller ended in 2012 with the aptly titled Finale. This month Fitzpatrick is back with a stand-alone thriller, Black Ice. It may not have extremely handsome and troubled fallen angels, but Mason, the broody guy at the heart of the story, may be a real-life criminal—or a savior. Protagonist Britt Pfeiffer's life depends on figuring out the answer when she's stuck in a blizzard in the Teton Range with him.

Here Becca answers your questions about writing in a completely different genre, how she became a writer, and her inspiration behind the beloved Patch!

We have to start off with the most popular question! It seems as if ALL of your fans are in love with Patch from the Hush, Hush series. They want to know more about Patch and Nora—your thoughts on their relationship, whether it was inspired by any of your past relationships, etc. And Laura asks, "Who was your inspiration to make the character Patch Cipriano? Your husband? Your imaginary perfect man?"

Patch was the spark that led me to write Hush, Hush. He was the first character I knew would be in the story. Much of the early drafts revolved around him. I was 24 when I started writing Hush, Hush, and my teen years were fresh in my mind. There was a boy I knew in high school whom I used as a framework to hang Patch's character on. He was cool, quiet, mysterious. When I passed him in the hall, I never knew what he was thinking. There was just something about him. I was drawn to him, but we didn't have any of the same friends or classes, so I only saw glimpses of him. I do wonder, if I'd gotten to know him better, would he have been as alluring to me? Would he have aroused my curiosity in the same way? I can't say for certain, but I don't think so. The mystery made him alluring.

I wanted to re-create that same air of mystery in Patch. Even after spending four books with him, I never felt like I knew him well. I like that about Patch. He keeps you guessing. In Hush, Hush he starts off as the story's villain. He's not a good guy. Over the course of the series, readers watch his character evolve from a selfish, unfeeling bad boy to someone struggling for redemption, someone capable of love. We also see Patch, a tough and fiercely independent character, navigate his feelings for Nora and his dependence on her. Dependence isn't always about giving up freedom or making yourself weaker; it can be realizing you're stronger together.

Maria: Black Ice is very different from your past works. What inspired you to write this thriller? Did you always want to write a thriller? Eves: You've mentioned on Twitter that you originally started Black Ice as a paranormal YA fiction but later developed it without this feature. What made you change your mind?

The first draft of Black Ice did include paranormal elements—the ghosts of murdered girls haunted Britt, the main character, and directed her to discover the identity of the man who killed them (and the man hunting Britt). In those early months of writing I wasn't consciously thinking about genre—I was following my instincts and writing the story that felt most important to me at that moment. In later drafts, and after long discussions with my editor, the ghosts were cut and the criminal and psychological aspects took center stage. Also, Britt had to learn the killer's identity on her own. Being a bit oblivious to the fact that I was switching genres definitely made the leap less intimidating.

Aylen: Do your characters' experiences mirror yours? I read that Black Ice is based on your teenage years; how did you come across hostages and criminals? Kelly: What kind of research did you do about backpacking through the mountains?

The seeds for all my stories come from my teen years. When I was a teen, I wrote in my journal almost every night. I often go back and reread those journals to remind myself what it feels like to be a teen. Some things, like technology, slang, and culture, change over the years, but the feeling of falling in love, of feeling betrayed or humiliated—those emotions are universal and time resistant. When I say that my characters' experiences mirror mine, I'm talking about emotional experience and resonance. In Black Ice Britt is taken hostage by two fugitives. As a teen, one of my greatest fears was being taken from my family and forced to rely on myself to escape. What if I failed? What if I never saw my friends and family again? Those are questions Britt faces at every turn in Black Ice.

I knew early on that one of the biggest challenges I faced in writing Black Ice was making Britt's survival believable. Not easy, but believable. I wanted her character to change and grow, and that can't happen without grueling tests and obstacles. In Black Ice some of those obstacles include a brutal snowstorm, isolation, a sense of not knowing whom to trust, and emotional and physical fatigue. While outlining the book, I took a trip to the Teton Range and studied the landscape. I tried to gain a real sense of what it would feel like to be alone on a mountain in the middle of a blizzard. It was easy to come up with things that could go wrong in this scenario: starvation, hypothermia, hopelessness, depression. Far more difficult was the task of making Britt a character who's smart and steady enough to overcome these challenges. That's where research came in.

During the writing process, I googled everything from "surviving a bear attack" to "how to build a shelter from snow" to "edible wild plants." I read books on extreme survival. I interviewed experienced backpackers. I spent time in the mountains looking for caves, culverts, abandoned huts, and uprooted trees that could be used as shelter.

Danielle: What kinds of relationships can we expect from the characters in your upcoming book?

I love putting two people with great chemistry on the page together. It makes for sexy banter, which I always hope will lead to something more! However, it can be challenging to have two characters who are constantly running from death believably slow down long enough to explore their feelings for one another. As a writer and a human, I like to see hints of hope amid fear and desperation. There is no situation too cynical for love. I try to balance the really tense, heart-pounding moments of danger with two people forging a connection that runs deeper than the need to survive. In Black Ice Britt and Mason, one of her captors, are trapped on a mountain for different reasons. The only way they can survive is if they learn to trust each other. I'm not particularly drawn to writing stories about normal and functioning relationships—thankfully for me, real life offers enough of those. I'm much more inclined to write about obsession, self-doubt, violence, and betrayal. Books are a safe place to explore our darker inclinations and fears, I think.

Catherine: I loved Hush, Hush because Patch was so enigmatic. It sounds like your new story, Black Ice, has equally mysterious characters. Why do you like writing about these dark characters so much, and what makes them fun to create?

I think these types of characters arouse my curiosity because they're so different from me. I could read and write about characters just like myself, but what would I learn? How would I challenge myself and my beliefs? I remember the first time I read The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux and Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. As dark and depraved as I found the ghost of the opera and Heathcliff, they were never boring. They had my attention. I wanted to understand them and their motivations. They unnerved me, and I'll never forget that feeling—I was wearing someone else's skin. When readers comment that my characters make them feel uncomfortable, I know I'm doing my job. In Black Ice Mason is holding Britt captive and using her to guide him off a mountain. Yet he shows her unexplainable moments of kindness. Is he your typical hero? Is he a hero at all? Read Black Ice and decide for yourself.

Ash: What is your favorite book or favorite book series that has inspired you to write? What would you recommend to other aspiring authors?

As a child, I loved the Nancy Drew mysteries. I see a lot of similarities between Nancy Drew and Nora Grey. I'm a huge fan of Diana Gabaldon's Sandra Brown's romantic suspense novels. A few favorites are Ricochet, Chill Factor, and Smoke Screen. My advice to writers is to read outside your box. Every genre can teach you something new about storytelling. If you typically read romance, try a science fiction novel. If you love westerns, read young adult. Reading has helped me become a better writer more than writing has helped me become a better writer.

Sara: You said earlier that you didn't want to move forward with the Hush, Hush movie for now. Why? And do we still have hope for a Hush, Hush movie in the future?

I'm a huge believer in trusting your instincts, and that really is what my decision to not move forward with a movie boiled down to. It just didn't feel right. I can't explain it more than that. I feel at peace with my decision. I know I disappointed many readers, and I'm sorry for that.

Crystall: Was being an author a plan for your life or did it just happen? Annelies: Did you ever feel like giving up?

When I was eight, I watched the movie Romancing the Stone for the first time. It's about a romance writer, Joan Wilder, who travels to Colombia to rescue her sister from bad guys, hunts for treasure, and falls in love with a tall, dark, handsome man. I remember thinking I wanted to grow up and be just like Joan Wilder—I thought all romance writers live a life filled with danger and heart-stopping romance. By the time I got to college, I'd forgotten my childhood dream and I applied to the CIA. I wanted to be a spy. I didn't start writing until my husband surprised me by enrolling me in a writing class for my 24th birthday. I started writing Hush, Hush in that class. I spent the next five years revising Hush, Hush over and over. I sought publication and accumulated a huge stack of rejection letters. There were times I wanted to give up. I wondered if I was wasting my time. But I was part of a critique group, and my fellow writer friends had my back. We were all in the same boat, and that sense of solidarity was invaluable. We rooted for each other. If you're seeking publication, I'd urge you to find a great writers' group. Writing is a very solitary profession, and it helps to have friends.

Lenteja: How many hours do you write a day? How long does it take you to write a book like Hush, Hush? Do you work every day?

When my boys were little, my writing schedule was trickier. I worked mostly during their naps or at night, after they went to bed. Now they're both in school for six hours, and I try to dedicate those quiet hours to writing. I typically have a year to write a book, and that includes doing multiple rounds of edits. A year may seem like a long time, but I constantly feel rushed. Ideally I'd have three years to write a book. I'm not sure my readers want to be that patient!

Bronwyn: What was your biggest obstacle in getting Hush, Hush published?

The story wasn't good enough. When I started sending it to agents in 2002, I would get form rejection letters back. "This story isn't for me," that kind of thing. As I continued to revise and resend, I noticed a shift in the tone of the letters. They became more personal. Agents would point out specific parts of the story that worked or didn't work. I could tell by their comments that they'd read the entire book. It was exciting to think that I'd kept them hooked past the first couple chapters. For five years I continued to revise the book. Finally, in 2008, the story was strong enough to generate offers from multiple agents. My advice to writers? Don't rush the process. Great writing will find a home. Seek to write the best book you possibly can, then seek publication. Reversing that formula won't work. Trust me, I tried.

Sara: If Patch were to hang out with fictional characters from other books, who would he get along with the most?

It's hard to picture Patch outside of the Hush, Hush world. It's his world, and I can't imagine him leaving it. However, I took a trip to Ireland recently, and I spotted a few young men who reminded me of Rixon. Shaggy dark hair, rangy build, and that enchanting Irish accent. I do remember feeling as though Patch might have roamed the streets with those boys in a different century.

Bonus question! Karina: What is the stupidest thing you have ever done?

Oh, wow, where to start? Seriously, though, I make dumb choices all the time. However, I recently read a book that has changed my outlook on making mistakes and failing. It's called Sometimes You Win—Sometimes You Learn: Life's Greatest Lessons Are Gained from Our Losses by John C. Maxwell. Instead of beating myself up over failures, I try to ask myself what I can learn so that I don't make the same mistakes again. When I went on my first book tour for Hush, Hush, I did a lot of dumb things. I didn't listen to my body, failed to drink enough water, and got dehydrated. I got a migraine that caused me to miss an event. I blurted nervous answers to readers' questions instead of thinking over my responses thoughtfully. I also wasn't prepared for the mishaps that inevitably come with relying too much on technology. I've been thinking about these past failures as I've prepared for my Black Ice tour. While I wasn't grateful for those failures at the time, I'm glad I've learned what I can do to have a more successful tour this time.

Comments Showing 1-13 of 13 (13 new)

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message 1: by Carrena (new)

Carrena Im glad that you went with your gut feeling about the idea for Hush,Hush, I feel like just having this series as a book series is perfectly fine =)

message 2: by Mishiko (new)

Mishiko Sato Well, you won´t be dissapointed if movie does not filled your expectation. Most of the time movies are less interesting than books.

message 3: by Carmel (new)

Carmel Ryan Some great and helpful advice for aspiring writers there, thank you!!

message 4: by Heather (new)

Heather I'm so glad you decided to not lean toward a movie. The books would probably lose so much to us.

message 5: by Dixie (new)

Dixie Minor Thank you so much for these wonderful answers! This was a very inspiring interview!

message 6: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Bejarano love you and your books! i am seriously up to reading black ice! hope you can write 100 more books because i love the way you write

message 7: by Jacinta (new)

Jacinta Aguilera none of my questions are in here :'c

message 8: by Shea (new)

Shea Skylover i wanna know is these book have alot of mysterious in it and do it have a good end or a bad end of the book .

message 9: by Shea (new)

Shea Skylover ans well mason ever stay with her best bestfrined

message 10: by Susan (new)

Susan So Glad You Wrote "Black Ice" Becca....A Huge "Hush Hush" Series FanGirl AFirstLookBN Reader of Hush,Hush,So Long Ago... Good to See You.... Susan;)

message 11: by Kaitlyn (new)

Kaitlyn Murphy Will we see anymore to the Hush, Hush series. These books mean a ton to me and I would love to have more on the lives of Nora Grey and Patch. Please?

message 12: by Eves (new)

Eves Once again I'm very grateful that Becca answered my question. Black Ice is such an exciting book that I couldn't put it down. It's so nice reading up on the process of the book and writery tips with this interview.

The Mad Hatter ~I'd rather have my kingdom fall than lose you to hatred's call~ Kaitlyn wrote: "Will we see anymore to the Hush, Hush series. These books mean a ton to me and I would love to have more on the lives of Nora Grey and Patch. Please?"
I want to read more about Patch. 'starts daydreaming'

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