Today I’m delighted to be hosting Bethany Hensel, a brilliant writer and one of my clients! Her NA debut, UNSTOPPABLE, is a thrilling, gorgeous story packed with tight, voicey, captivating prose. I could not be happier to have her here for an interview!
Here’s a bit about Bethany:
Since her breakthrough into publishing in 2007, arts and entertainment writer Bethany Hensel has compiled a vast and varied catalogue of work that includes interviews with television personalities, bestselling authors, award-winning singers, and more; as well as reviews of popular books, Pulitzer Prize-winning plays, and beloved musicals. Her debut book, UNSTOPPABLE, which readers have called “sexy,” and “sizzling” released December 3, 2013 (yesterday!). It is available through most e-tailers. To learn more, visit bethanyhensel.com
So, let’s hear a bit about this book of hers.
Derek Archer’s life is finally beginning. He’s just about to graduate from high school, land the job he’s always wanted, and move in with the girl he’s always loved, Victoria. There’s no reason for him to question or want for anything. …until the day Victoria’s father is shot and killed, setting off a devastating, heartbreaking chain of reactions.
Now, the race is on, and Derek has only three days to right a terrible wrong. With the help of a childhood friend with a penchant for high-tech espionage, they investigate every lead, never imagining their search would take them deep into the heart of a seemingly perfect family, where old ghosts, bitter lies, and agonizing betrayal all collide. It’s then Derek discovers just how unimaginable the truth can be…and how unstoppable.
And the cover. How gorgeous is that?
After a cover like that, it’s only fair to give you an excerpt, right?
“You hear all the time about how some people look beautiful when they’re sad – the shiny eyes, the flushed cheeks, the wild emotions that heighten their color. They become tragic heroines that inspire love poems and epic sonnets. Victoria is not one of those people. There is nothing poetic nor melodic about her sorrow. She looks ruined.
Victoria sits beside me, her face buried against my chest. There is no space between our bodies as I hold her. Even our feet are touching. Her cries are different than before, no longer so hysterical. They are more quiet, more intense. Concentrated. As if the fear, shock, and confusion have all worn off, and the only thing left is her sorrow. I’ve wiped off the blood from her arms and face. Now I stroke her back, but her grief has physical force. It’s like trying to keep your hand wrapped around a tuning fork once it’s gone off. The vibrations just burn right through you.”
So, Bethany, let’s hear some FAQ about UNSTOPPABLE.
The end of Unstoppable ends on such a cliffhanger! Will there be a sequel?
Yes! There will be a sequel, tentatively titled Unforgivable. It won’t be told from Derek or Victoria’s points of view, but it will feature a lot of the same characters and introduce many new ones. It will be released early next year. I’ll be posting updates, teasers, excerpts and more as we get closer to the date.
I loved Sabrina as a character. Will she get her own book?
Sabrina is a great character, isn’t she? I really enjoyed writing her. To be as tall as she is! (She’s 5’11.) To answer your question, she will get her own book! It won’t be a full length story. It will be a novella, and it will be released early next year, around the same time as the Unstoppable sequel.
Derek seemed to have a clear path in life he wanted to follow, but Victoria seemed satisfied being “taken care of.” Did she have bigger aspirations?
Derek is very determined and ambitious. He wants to do amazing things with his life. He comes from a very regular blue-collar background and isn’t afraid to do the hard work and put in the long hours. He knows what he wants and understands that to get it, it won’t be easy.
Victoria on the other hand, is very happy with where she is in life. She’d be content if it just carried on the way it’s going now forever. She’s young and healthy, she’s with the guy of her dreams, she lives in a gorgeous house. To her, everything is paradise. She has no intentions of leaving. She wants nothing to change.
Are you planning on writing books outside of the world you created in Unstoppable?
I am! In fact, I am in the midst of writing a book that takes place in present day Pittsburgh and Italy. It’s about a world-famous violinist and the woman who loves him.
The world is such an interesting place in Unstoppable. It seems imminently possible. How did you come up with that?
I had one rule in mind when writing this book: I wanted it to hit the ground running and not stop. If I felt it got slow or a moment dragged, I cut it. If I thought that characters were taking too much time to get to the point, I deleted sentences and paragraphs until they spit it out. I wanted this book to be a ticking time bomb of a story, and I wanted the stakes to be life and death. Obviously, the laws we have right now aren’t as severe enough to really merit the fast-pace I wanted, so I created new laws…severe, unforgiving laws. Once I had that seed planted, everything else grew pretty organically.
What attracted you to this concept originally? What was it that got you to say, “now THIS is a story I want to write”?
Great question, Kate! What did attract me to this concept? Well, it began with an image, really, of a boy and girl in a car. They were arguing, which is nothing exceptional, except what really struck me about the scene was how upset the boy was. Heartbroken, beautiful, vulnerable and lost, he sparked both my curiosity and imagination. I knew right away that this could be a character I could really explore. Over the years, as the story began to move from amorphous blob to an actual structured tale, some major influences that helped guide it along have been the Bourne Identity movies, Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet, David Yates’s Revolutionary Road, Harlan Coben books in general, and the Hans Zimmer composed music for Man of Steel. Trust me, this was not an easy book to write, but I really wanted to create a tale for such a complex character. I hope I did him justice.
What’s one of the most interesting themes in the story to you?
Truth. The tag line for the book used to be Truth is Unstoppable. So many of the characters have secrets up their sleeves, and by the end of the book, they all come out. Truth is a powerful thing and, like most powerful things, can’t ever really be caged. It’s interesting to see how the truths of each character impacts the people around them.
Another theme that cropped up is one about families and when to break away from them and when to seek shelter in them. Derek, especially, is very defined by his family and it’s a huge source of conflict for him throughout the story. And it was very fun to explore those themes and how they worked together. Or directly against each other.
UNSTOPPABLE is so incredibly voicey. Do you have a tip for writers on creating compelling voice?
Voice is tough. Voice is one of those things that I don’t think you can teach or discover in a classroom. I think it’s more organic than that. Don’t get me wrong. I think everyone has a unique voice, but it can be difficult to really open up that voice up and get it to sing. It reminds me of that movie Sister Act with Whoopi Goldberg and when she’s teaching the shy nun how to sing and then all of a sudden, through nurturing and practice and patience, the young nun suddenly is singing as if Ella Fitzgerald was living inside her!
So I guess I would say that practice practice practice will help reveal voice. Reading will help you acquire an ear for great voice. And then experimenting with the types of stories you write and the POVs you use will help you exercise your uh, chords and range.
What’s your favorite thing, hands down, about writing and releasing this book?
The best thing about writing the book was finishing it! Writing The End and then sending it out to critique partners! I love that feeling. As for the best thing about releasing the book…well that’s easy! It’s getting to share it with everybody! It’s getting to finally have these characters live outside my head and be in the world. Plus, it’s a really exciting time to be publishing and I am so happy to be a part of it.
UNSTOPPABLE is a book to read, and it released yesterday, so go get it right this very minute.