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Interview with Bethany Griffin

YA Highway is thrilled to have the opportunity to interview Bethany Griffin, author of the Young Adult contemporary novel, Handcuffs. Thanks for joining us, Bethany!

So, I was poking around on your website the other day and I’ve pretty much determined you are one of the coolest people ever because 1) you regularly change the color of your hair and 2) you are a die-hard Smashing Pumpkins fan. We’ll gloss over the hair thing for now, but tell me about how music inspires what you write.

I'm not hugely inspired by music, half the time I write in silence, or as close as you get with two small kids, and half the time I write to my LOTR soundtracks. My favorite music involves certain moods, and my husband, who is a musician has been trying to get me to write him some lyrics. When I do use music, it's usually to evoke a mood. Like angst. I like music that evokes angst.

Oh, yeah, and purple is my favorite color. Your website is purple. That rocks, too. (okay, not really a question. Just sayin’).

The website is supposed to be the blue/purple of the key on the back of the book. I LOVE that color and would like a star/moon tattoo in that color...

Your debut novel, Handcuffs, has been well received. There is a perennial waiting list for it at my library. Where did you get the idea for the story?

The original idea was much more about email pranks, and stuff, and I got that part of the idea from an actual prank. The handcuffs thing came from needing Parker to get grounded for a long time, otherwise it would be boring to have her sitting around on the computer.

I love Parker’s character, and I really could relate to her (being a middle child, and the only girl with four problem-causing brothers). We see a lot of growth in her characters over the course of the novel. What kind of adult do you see her growing into?

Oh wow, that's a good question. I'd like to see her growing into a self confident adult, who makes bad decisions (when she does make bad decisions) or good decisions because of her own desires not because of outside pressures. Of course this is kind of the way I want my children to grow up, too. I think Parker will always be reserved, an outgoing Parker would be unthinkable, but I hope she is more in touch with her emotions, and more comfortable with herself.

Now you are turning the novel into a screenplay. Can you tell us about how that came to be and how the process differs between writing a novel and writing a screenplay?

Wow, it's pretty hard! I'm finding that I'm not a particularly visual author, so the screenplay form is pretty foreign to me. The strategy is sort of to follow the characters around in my head with a video camera and find the best ways to tell the story. Luckily, I've got conflict and pretty natural dialogue, so finding a way to show the audience things about these characters and situations, is the real challenge.

If you were given the chance to cast Handcuffs, using any actors/actresses, who would you cast?

I really don't know! This is part of the whole nonvisual thing!

You are an English teacher. What do your students think about having class with a popular Young Adult writer? Has being published changed your day to day experiences?

Nope, even the week after being published I was still doing dishes and grading papers and being a mommy. Once in a while, someone in real life comments on the book, and I have to arrange for babysitting for speaking engagements which means even LESS time to write. Some of my students are total fans, some of them think I'm lame. It gives me a little more credibility on writing issues.

Teaching is a full-time+ job. How do you find the time to write?

I don't really watch TV. I try to work for about two hours every night and a block of 4-8 hours every weekend. I'd like more time, but I just don't have it.

I love your sense of humor – I laughed out loud several times as I was reading your bio and your answers to the f.a.q. on your website, as well as throughout Handcuffs. And yet, you say you are rather shy. Which is it really? Are you the introspective, writerly type? Or the boisterous, filled with humor type?

Well, nobody's ever called me boisterous. I'm more the quiet person who makes wry, or possibly cynical observations.

Can you give us any hints as to what you are working on now (besides the screenplay)?

I just finished my second contemporary realistic manuscript, Greedy. And now I'm rewriting the book I always wanted to write, Breathless, a speculative book which I wrote directly after Handcuffs, and revised a million times, and then decided to scrap and rewrite. I'd say it was a labor of love, but until the freaking thing is done, it's just ... labor.

Thanks, Bethany, for taking the time to answer our questions. Just one more thing:

Five Real Fast

1) If you could meet any author, living or dead, who would it be? Stephen King, who wouldn't want to try to make conversation with Uncle Stevie?

2) The waiter at your favorite restaurant is ready. What do you order? Mushroom Ravioli.
3) It was a dark and stormy night . . . bethany is covered in small cowering children with imaginations that are too good (and 5 cats).
4) Who would you like to see run for president? Jon Stewart? Al Gore again.... no no no RACHEL MADDOW!!!

5) What spot on your life highway was/is the best? I'd go back and spend a few weeks in the last years of college when I was newly married, but I wouldn't want to stay.

Bethany Griffin is the author of Handcuffs, the super wry book about an ice princess who gets caught in the most compromising of situations. Her website is

Kristin Halbrook

Kristin Halbrook is the author of the critically-acclaimed young adult novels Nobody But Us (HarperTeen, 2013) and Every Last Promise (HarperTeen, 2015). She likes many things.

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  1. Thanks for the interview, Bethany! And great questions, Kristin. Handcuffs is on my to buy list for the next time I am let loose on amazon ;)

  2. Fabulous interview and I LOL a few times. I love that some of your students think your lame! (Not that you are by any means)

  3. Thanks, Bethany! Great interview Kristin.

  4. Great interview, both of you! *still needs to find a copy of Handcuffs*

  5. Great interview!

    Lol @ Jon him.

    And some kids think everything is lame. That's so lame.

    Thanks so much, Bethany!

  6. Great interview! Looking forward to reading Handcuffs, just have to find a way to track it down :-)

  7. bethany, was that you in the Smashing Pumpkins chat room on AOL I rarely left between 1995 and 1997?

  8. I don't think I knew how to get into a chat room in 95-97, so probably not. I did see them in concert a few times, though. :)

    Thanks guys, it was a fun interview!


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Item Reviewed: Interview with Bethany Griffin Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kristin Halbrook