Since her sister’s mysterious death, Persephone “Phe” Archer has been plagued by a series of disturbing dreams. Determined to find out what happened to her sister, Phe enrolls at Devenish Prep in Shadow Hills, Massachusetts—the subject of her sister’s final diary entry.-----------------------
After stepping on campus, Phe immediately realizes that there’s something different about this place—an unexplained epidemic that decimated the town in the 1700s, an ancient and creepy cemetery, and gorgeous boy Zach—and somehow she’s connected to it all.
But the more questions she asks and the deeper she digs, the more entangled Phe becomes in the haunting past of Shadow Hills. Finding what links her to this town…might cost her her life.
One of my favorite (and most cliché) questions to ask writers, is what inspired the stories they tell in their novels. How did the idea for Shadow Hills come to you?
It was really more a progression of ideas. I had some vague thoughts about the sort of book I wanted to write, but then a 60 Minutes segment on a gifted savant started me thinking along the lines of what the townspeople's abilities might be and how they could have developed. A road trip to LA soon after that allowed me plenty of time to think about the story and where it might go, as well as giving me an image of the sort of girl I wanted for the protagonist. Those ideas began to gel, and by the time I got home, I pretty much had my vision for Shadow Hills.
In Shadow Hills, science and genes play an important role in the plot. What inspired this decision and what kind of research did you have to do prior to writing?
I wanted the abilities of the townspeople in Shadow Hills to be grounded in science, particularly since there are other elements to the book that are more mystical. Science was a subject I liked in school, and I was particularly interested in genetics, so it was a pretty natural way for me to go. I read articles on how certain traits have evolved in humans, and I read a couple of books and some articles on the way the brain develops and on how it adapts to injuries. Some of it was pretty difficult to understand, but it was really fascinating, too.
Was Shadow Hills originally intended to be YA or did it surprise you? Why?
I always saw it as a YA book. Probably the first idea I had about it was that I wanted my book to take place in a boarding school. I thought that enclosed setting and the mix of boarding students and townies offered the best arena for the events to unfold.
Phe has a strong connection to music. Do you share this trait? And if so, what songs did you listen to most while writing?
That is probably the thing about Phe that is most like me. I love lots of different kinds of music, just like she does. And music was even more important to me as a teenager; my friends and I always had music going wherever we were, and we talked about it and borrowed CD's from each other and burned party CD's. So I definitely believed that music should play a role in a YA. I've listened to and liked all the songs that the various characters in Shadow Hills like, but my tastes are closest to Phe's. I particularly like Gogol Bordello and Les Savy Fav. However, I don't listen to music while I'm writing. I'm too easily distracted by it. I have to have quiet to write.
What are you currently working on?
Although I'd really love to do a sequel to Shadow Hills (several, in fact), that is something that is still up in the air. So right now I'm working on a paranormal YA set in England in the nineteenth century.-----------------------
Thank you, Anastasia!