Author Chat with Brenda Rufener (Where I Live), Plus Giveaway!
Today we're excited to chat with Brenda Rufener, author of Where I Live. Read on for more about Brenda and her book, plus a giveaway!
Meet Brenda Rufener!
Brenda Rufener is a technical writer turned novelist. She is the author of Where I Live, which School Library Journal called a “new and forthcoming YA to have on your radar,” Bustle and Barnes & Noble Teen Blog named a most anticipated YA contemporary book hitting shelves in 2018, and Booklist called “a well-rounded picture of a teen who’s more than her crisis.” Her next young adult novel, Since We Last Spoke, is slated for April 2019. Brenda lives in Durham, North Carolina with her family. You can find her online at www.brendarufener.com.
From debut author Brenda Rufener comes a heart-wrenching and evocative story perfect for fans of Thirteen Reasons Why, Girl in Pieces, and All the Bright Places.
Linden Rose has a big secret--she is homeless and living in the halls of her small-town high school. Her position as school blog editor, her best friends, Ham and Seung, and the promise of a future far away are what keep Linden under the radar and moving forward.
But when cool-girl Bea comes to school with a bloody lip, the damage hits too close to home. Linden begins looking at Bea's life, and soon her investigation prompts people to pay more attention. And attention is the last thing she needs.
Linden knows the only way to put a stop to the violence is to tell Bea's story and come to terms with her own painful past. Even if that means breaking her rules for survival and jeopardizing the secrets she's worked so hard to keep.
A Chat with Brenda Rufener:
1. What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
The character of Linden Rose is partly inspired by an amazing group of young women I spent time with in college. I volunteered with a literacy program and worked with young women facing adverse circumstances, many of them homeless. These women were unwilling to give up, even in the face of incredible adversity, and I was drawn to their persistence and positivity. How I wished teen-me had known these faces when I went through a similar situation–I would not have felt so alone. Their strength and determination was admirable. They were homeless but never hopeless.
2. Who is your favorite character in the book?
This is like asking me which of my children I favor! I love Linden’s tenacity and strength, Seung’s tenderness and willingness to care, but most of all Ham’s confidence and secure sense of self. He’s himself and feels no need to change for anyone. Ham will always be an inspiration to me.
3. Which came first, the title or the novel?
For whatever reason, my titles develop before the novel. Author friends warned me not to get attached to the title, as it probably, most certainly, would change. So through the many publishing stages, I anticipated a phone call informing me of a title change, but the conversation never happened.
4. What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
The bond of friendship between Linden, Seung, and Ham (The Triangle) was a favorite part of writing Where I Live. Linden is in constant crisis but she’s more than her struggle. She’s a good student, an aspiring journalist, and a loyal friend. I felt especially drawn to give Linden space to be more than her homelessness, which is probably why one of my favorite scenes is when she’s getting ready for homecoming and allows herself to temporarily forget about her situation and succumb to the pampering of Seung’s mother. I’m a sucker for a makeover scene, and this one is special.
5. What do you like most about the cover of the book?
The cover of Where I Live changed several times, and while all the art was conceptually beautiful, the artist’s final rendition really captured the essence and tone of this novel. Linden is a homeless teen living in her high school. How perfect is a traditional front door set among a row of locker doors? Joel Tippie, the jacket designer, and Helen Crawford-White, the artist, outdid themselves and I’m thrilled with the cover.
6. What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2018?
There are so many amazing books coming in 2018 that I have on preorder, but I am most looking forward to two novels out on February 6, 2018: Gloria Chao’s American Panda and Amber Smith’s The Last To Let Go. Both promise to be amazing reads.
7. What’s up next for you?
I have a second young adult novel, entitled Since We Last Spoke, slated for April 2019 with HarperTeen that I’m very excited about. You’ll meet Aggi and Max, two teens torn apart by unimaginable pain and guilt over the loss of their siblings. The story is told in dual points of view and focuses on a love that’s desperately trying to survive, in spite of everything coming against it. This story delves into the different layers of grief and how pain impacts two families that once loved each other but now point fingers of blame.
8. Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
Absolutely! Wrenn House is one of the only homeless shelters for youth age ten through seventeen in the Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina area. They are in constant need of hygiene products like bath towels, tampons, and deodorant. Along with family and friends, I raise money and gather wish list items annually for programs like this one. Wrenn House, in affiliation with Haven House Services, services close to 1,400 youth in crisis.
Where I Live
By: Brenda Rufener
Release Date: February 27, 2018
The cover is striking next to the type style/font/color of the title, and the understated background couples with those brightly tinged words to match the synopsis (IMHO) -- serious themes presented through a page-turning plot. I want to know how Linden deals with her peer's apparent abuse issues. Thanks for the chance to win! -- Kara S
This book is #1 on my need-to-read list of February releases. I'm a middle school teacher and have seen first-hand how many students face homelessness. It's heartbreaking!
I like the cover of Where I Live, but would have loved to see a more personalized image -- something that more specifically shows the character's environment. Love the summary, though.