Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Anastasia Hopcus on SHADOW HILLS [Blog Tour] [Interview Questions]

As part of the 28 Blogs in 28 Days Shadow Hills Blog Tour, we asked Anastasia Hopcus, the author, a few questions about her book and herself.  Please join me in welcoming Anastasia to I Heart Monster today!  Anastasia lives in Austin, Texas and SHADOW HILLS is her debut novel, published by Egmont USA.  Thanks for stopping by today, Anastasia! First, we'll start off with a little about SHADOW HILLS:
After her sister Athena's tragic death, it's obvious that grief-stricken Persephone "Phe" Archer no longer belongs in Los Angeles. Hoping to make sense of her sister's sudden demise and the cryptic dreams following it, Phe abandons her bubbly LA life to attend an uptight East Coast preparatory school in Shadow Hills, MA -- a school which her sister mysteriously mentioned in her last diary entry before she died.

Once there, Phe quickly realizes that something is deeply amiss in her new town. Not only does Shadow Hills' history boast an unexplained epidemic that decimated hundreds of its citizens in the 1700s, but its modern townies also seem eerily psychic, with the bizarre ability to bend metal. Even Zach -- the gorgeous stranger Phe meets and immediately begins to lust after -- seems as if he is hiding something serious. Phe is determined to get to the bottom of it. The longer she stays there, the more she suspects that her sister's untimely death and her own destiny are intricately linked to those who reside in Shadow Hills.
Now on to the questions. Anastasia, what made you want to write a story that took place in a boarding school?

I've always been really fascinated by boarding schools. There's just something so appealing about them. They're like little worlds, with their own rules and structure. The characters have a bit more independence than most teens, as well. They are there without their parents and siblings, and while they have to deal with authority figures and abide by their rules, they deal with them on a more adult basis. Your house mistress and school adviser don't look at you and see you as you were as a two-year-old. Plus, everything is right there together. If you want to hang out with a bunch of your friends and play games or watch movies, you can walk over to the SAC. You can see that cute guy you're crushing on way more than you would in a standard high school setting.

All the drama takes place in a small arena. In some ways, this is great for an author; you don't have to worry as much about cars and distance and the outside world. On the other hand, you have to find ways to open things up a little and create more movement so that your story doesn't become static or your characters stuck.

Was there any real-life inspiration for Dev Prep?

I had a picture in my mind of the way I wanted Devenish to look. I wanted red brick buildings, lush green quads and natural slate paths criss-crossing the campus. So, with this in mind, I went looking for schools that fit my mental image. A lot of the buildings I describe in my novel are similar to ones at Williams College in Williamstown, MA.

To design the curriculum, I read about courses at prep schools like Andover, Exeter, and Deerfield. From there, I developed and evolved the courses so they'd be in keeping with the advanced and rigorous education of Dev Prep. I'd have to say that overall, Devenish is most similar to Deerfield Academy, though the location of Shadow Hills would be a little farther north.

Well, we think it's great that Devenish is inspired by real schools!  Hey, tell us something...if you got to live in your book for one month, which character would you like to live as?

Well, it would be kind of fun to be Adriana and just say whatever I wanted, but then I'd feel really guilty afterwards when I went back to being me. And it'd be kind of interesting to be Toy because she's probably the least like me, except for her love of horror films. But, all in all, I'd have to say Phe. I'd really love to be as brave and spontaneous as Phe. Besides, she's the one dating the really hot guy. ;)

Hot guys are always the deciding factor, right?  I mean, how could they not be? *grin*  We're curious though, why did you name your main character Persephone?  Does it have any personal significance?
Hekate's wheel plays
a significant part in
Phe's story.

I like unusual names, and I like to create shorter nicknames from them---this may come from the fact that my name is Anastasia, yet I usually go by Stacy in day to day life. I liked the name Phe, and I thought that I could make it out of the name Persephone. I think maybe there was something larger at work, though, when I choose that name. Once I got into the story of Hekate---whom I hadn't read much about prior to writing this book---I realized how perfectly Persephone tied in with the myths involving Hekate. In fact, that was just one of several instances in writing Shadow Hills where things just seemed to fall into place. It was enough to give me a spooky, déjà vu feeling.

Sounds like it was spooky-awesome though!  Now for something totally random... if you could be any animal other than a human, what would you be and why?

A sea turtle. That way I'd get to live in the ocean, but I could still come up on land sometimes. Plus, they're really cute.

Thanks so much for stopping by I♥M today and responding to our questions.  We thoroughly enjoyed having you here and want you to know you're welcome anytime!

Shadow Hills is in stores now.  You can order the hardcover online from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, or my favorite Indie, Changing Hands.  Also, starting yesterday, the ebook is available through both Barnes & Noble and Amazon.  Keep your eyes out for our review coming soon!  You can catch Anastasia at her website, HopcusBlog, on Twitter, Facebook, and on Goodreads.  You can also catch the trailer for SHADOW HILLS on YouTube.  And if you haven't already, check out our Debut Interview with Anastasia right here on IHM.

1 comment:

Anne said...

Loved the interview. Ok I feel a little silly. I had an email about the Shadow Hills Street Team that was signed by Stacy and I figured it was an assistant or something. So I address my reply to both Anastasia and Stacy....so thanks to this interview I feel silly and informed. :) I have always liked shortening names as well. I cant shorten mine though. I mean you cant do much with Anne....except A....but that just doesnt work lol. Great post!