Author Chat with Pintip Dunn
Today we're excited to chat with Pintip Dunn,
author of The Darkest Lie! Below
you'll find our interview, more about Pintip and
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
Pintip Dunn: I wanted to write a story about a girl who was grieving the death of her mother. My own mother passed away from a brain tumor when I was five years old, and I have felt her loss like a hole in my heart my entire life.
At the time that I began writing this book, my dear friend and critique partner, Karen E.M. Johnston, was also suffering from a brain tumor. I remember telling her and our other critique partner, Stephanie Buchanan, about the premise. My initial idea was that the mom had passed away in flagrante delicto while she was having sex with the high school principal. They thought this wasn't scandalous enough and suggested that she should be having an affair with a student, the captain of the football team, instead.
Karen passed away while I was writing this book, and my grief over her loss has influenced this book, as well.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
PD: My initial reaction is CeCe, of course! She is my beautiful and brave heroine who has suffered so much, between her mom's death and the ensuing sexual harassment from the kids at school. CeCe goes from a character whose main goal is to fly under the radar to a girl who will stand up and fight for the truth.
However, I also really love Sam! He's just so adorable and geeky and earnest a good guy, through and through. An intern for the local newspaper, Sam dreams of becoming an investigative reporter so that he can protect the weak and the bullied. This makes him a perfect ally for CeCe as she investigates her mom's death. Plus, he wears glasses and his kisses are really swoony.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
PD: Definitely the novel. Most of the time, the title of the novel comes to me early in the writing process, and for my other books (FORGET TOMORROW,
REMEMBER YESTERDAY), the title I proposed has been accepted as the final title of the book. Not so with this novel.
The original title was CARLIE IN CRISIS (when the heroine's name used to be Carlie!), which is the title under which it finaled in RWA's Golden Heart® contest in 2013. My agent and I changed it to THE HOTLINE, and this is the title with which it sold.
My editor wasn't thrilled with either of these titles, so I brainstormed a list of forty possibilities. She narrowed the list to three. At that point, I campaigned for THE DARKEST LIE, and she agreed.
Now, it feels like this was always the story's true title! It just took us a little while to find it.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
PD: The prologue of the book, when CeCe is viewing her mother's dead body at the funeral parlor. It was the very first thing I wrote when I began thinking about this story, and it has survived with very minimal editing to the published book.
I fell in love with this story when I was writing this scene, and it gave me such a clear sense of who CeCe was and the deep, tumultuous emotions inside her.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
PD: When I first started writing (seventeen years ago!), I had no idea what a long, tough road it would be to publication and even after publication, what a long, tough road it would continue to be. This business is not for the thin of skin, and I used to contemplate quitting all the time.
A few years ago, however, I had a startling realization. Writing is not just something I do. Being a writer is who I am. I can't change that any more than I can change the color of my skin or the shape of my eyes.
This realization put everything into perspective for me. It didn't matter how the outside world received my writing I would still continue to write, regardless. So instead of complaining and whining about rejection or bad reviews, I should just get back to work!
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
PD: Can I say everything? Ha ha. I love how accurate the cover is. The key events of the novel take place around a lake, and the town itself is Lakewood, Kansas. CeCe, my heroine, has the same reddish long hair as the girl on the cover. I love the atmosphere the cover evokes stormy and moody and passionate. I love the bare, lonely branches reaching into the sky. I love the font and placement of the title and my name. I even love the girl's clothes this is exactly an outfit that CeCe would wear!
YABC: What’s up next for you?
PD: The second book in my FORGET TOMORROW series, entitled REMEMBER YESTERDAY, releases on October 4 of this year. I am so excited for this book! I think fans of FORGET TOMORROW will be pleased with how the story develops, and I can't wait to hear what my readers think of a grownup Jessa.
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
PD: My superpower is my ability to love deeply and unconditionally. This ability applies to both the people in my life as well as to my writing.
This superpower is what has helped me persevere as a writer, and it is also what has allowed me to wrench every possible emotion out of my life.
Meet The Darkest Lie!
Is it better to live with a lie, or risk everything for the truth?
In Pintip Dunn’s gripping and timely novel, a young woman whose life unravels in the wake of her mother’s alleged suicide sets out to clear her name.
“The mother I knew would never do those things. But maybe I never knew her after all.”
Clothes, jokes, coded messages...Cecilia Brooks and her mom shared everything. At least, CeCe thought they did. Six months ago, her mom killed herself after accusations of having sex with a student, and CeCe’s been the subject of whispers and taunts ever since. Now, at the start of her high school senior year, between dealing with her grieving, distracted father, and the social nightmare that has become her life, CeCe just wants to fly under the radar. Instead, she’s volunteering at the school’s crisis hotline—the same place her mother worked.
As she counsels troubled strangers, CeCe’s lingering suspicions about her mom’s death resurface. With the help of Sam, a new student and newspaper intern, she starts to piece together fragmented clues that point to a twisted secret at the heart of her community. Soon, finding the truth isn’t just a matter of restoring her mother’s reputation, it’s about saving lives—including CeCe’s own...
Meet Pintip Dunn!
Pintip Dunn graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B. in English Literature and Language. She received her J.D. at Yale Law School, where she was an editor of the YALE LAW JOURNAL. She also published an article in the YALE LAW JOURNAL, entitled, “How Judges Overrule: Speech Act Theory and the Doctrine of Stare Decisis,”
Pintip is represented by literary agent Beth Miller of Writers House. Her debut novel, FORGET TOMORROW, is a finalist in the Best First Book category of RWA's RITA® contest. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Washington Romance Writers, Maryland Romance Writers, and YARWA.
She lives with her husband and children in Maryland. You can learn more about Pintip and her books at www.pintipdunn.com