Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Interview with Jennifer Banash & Silent Alarm Giveaway!

Hi everyone! I'm really excited to bring this interview and giveaway to you today. I haven't read Silent Alarm yet (I definitely intend to), but it sounds like a fantastic, important read. Plus, it's contemporary--a dark one with what looks like really good themes and a lot of emotion--and those of you who know me well know that contemporary is my favorite genre.

If you want to read reviews to help you decide on whether you want to read this one or not, here are two from bloggers I follow on Goodreads: Giselle's and Stephanie's.

Enjoy the interview and good luck on the giveaway!☺

Title: Silent Alarm
Author: Jennifer Banash
Release Date: March 10th, 2015
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Add to Goodreads

Alys’s whole world was comprised of the history project that was due, her upcoming violin audition, being held tightly in the arms of her boyfriend, Ben, and laughing with her best friend, Delilah. At least it was—until she found herself on the wrong end of a shotgun in the school library. Her suburban high school had become one of those places you hear about on the news—a place where some disaffected youth decided to end it all and take as many of his teachers and classmates with him as he could. Except, in this story, that youth was Alys’s own brother, Luke. He killed fifteen others and himself, but spared her—though she’ll never know why.

Alys’s downward spiral begins instantly, and there seems to be no bottom. A heartbreaking and beautifully told story.

Hi Jennifer! Welcome to Reading is My Treasure.☺

What can readers expect from Silent Alarm?

A lot of intensity. Silent Alarm is a gritty, raw, and unflinching look at the aftermath of a school shooting. Strap yourself in—it’s going to be a bumpy ride. But one that, hopefully, leaves the reader with a sense of hope.

Silent Alarm sounds like an emotional read. How tough was it to write it?

It was very tough. First I had to wade through all of the research and articles about school violence, which was tough to read. Then writing the book itself was tough in a different way—I’m a high school teacher as well as a writer, and an incident like the one described in Silent Alarm is basically my biggest fear. The problem is that you can’t really see it coming, and so you can’t prepare.

Tell me a little about Aly. What is her personality like? How can readers relate to her?

When the reader first meets Alys, it’s the day after the shooting, and her entire world, everything she thought she knew for sure about her life, has vanished in an instant. She’s incredibly shellshocked, but at the same time she wants to understand why the shooting happened and who exactly her brother, Luke, really was. Her boyfriend’s younger sister was killed in the attack, so she loses not only her brother, but her boyfriend as well, as that relationship is irreparably damaged. Alys is heartbroken and her whole world has been shattered—she has intense survivor’s guilt—but little by little, she’s trying to make her way out of the darkness and back into the light. She’s also a serious violinist, and the shooting has made her question whether or not she has the right to play music anymore, if she’s entitled to have access to anything beautiful after what Luke has done.

Can you tell me a little about some of the other characters?

Well, there;s Riley, Luke’s former best friend, who becomes one of the only people Alys can confide in, and her best friend Delilah, who has conflicted feelings about resuming their friendship after the shooting. And, of course, Alys’s parents, who are ex-hippies who settled down in suburbia to raise their children. But I don’t want to give too much away :) Read the book!

Why do you love writing YA contemporary novels?

I’ve never been drawn to fantasy or genre fiction in a big way. Even when I was a teenager, contemporary YA is always what drew me in. I had a hard time growing up as a kid, and I was always looking for books that detailed some of what I was going through, books that made me feel less alone. That’s why I write contemporaries—to try and give readers that beacon of light in dark times.

What is your most recent favorite contemporary novel?

I really liked E. Lockheart’s We Were Liars. And one of the most beautiful and devastating contemporary works of YA I’ve read recently is Peggy Kern’s amazing novel about human trafficking, Little Peach. That book just blew me away. It’s such an important subject. I loved that book so much I immediately found Peggy on Twitter to tell her so!

Lastly, tell me one random fact about Silent Alarm (the writing process, inspiration, research, etc.) and one random fact about yourself.

I first got the idea to write Silent Alarm after the 2012 shooting in Chardon, Ohio. I remember reading an article about the case that mentioned that the shooter had a sister who was only a year younger than him. They didn’t actually go to the same school, but I started thinking, what if? That was the genesis of Silent Alarm, that was the moment right there.

I come across as uber confident, but I’m actually incredibly shy and difficult to get to know. I just put on a good act! 

Thank you for answering my questions!

Jennifer Banash is the author of the critically acclaimed Young Adult novel, White Lines, published by G.P. Putnam & Sons, and the fothcoming novel Silent Alarm, which will be released in March, 2015. Banash is also the author of The Elite series of books from Berkeley Jam which includes The Elite, In Too Deep, and Simply Irresistible. Banash lives, work, and writes in Los Angeles, California, with her daughter, Story, partner Willy, and two slightly food-obsessed beagles.

Jennifer has kindly offered to give away a hardcover and an ARC of Silent Alarm

The hardcover will go to the first winner picked and the ARC will go to the second. It's open to US only. This giveaway will end @ midnight on April 25th April 28th (I'm extending it!). Please, no cheating or entering with giveaway Twitter accounts. You can read my full giveaway policy here.

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