I was lucky enough to get to do an interview with Chris Struyk-Bonn, a friend of mine from my days among the Oregon chapter of SCBWI. I’ve always hugely admired Chris as a fellow writer and author, and so I’m thrilled to be able to interview her for my blog about her new book, NICE GIRLS ENDURE. (Look at that cover! Isn’t it perfect??)
Nice Girls Endure
by Chris Struyk-Bonn
Category/Genre: YA Contemporary
Released: August 1, 2016 (OUT NOW! Snag your own copy on Amazon!)
Publisher: Switch Press
Blurb: Chelsea Duvay is so many things. She’s an avid musical lover, she’s a gifted singer, and she has the most perfect, beautiful feet. But no one ever notices that. All they notice is Chelsea’s weight.
Daily, Chelsea endures endless comments about her appearance from well-meaning adults and cruel classmates. So she keeps to herself and just tries to make it through. Don’t make waves. Don’t draw attention. That’s how life is for Chelsea until a special class project pushes the energetic and incessantly social Melody into Chelsea’s world.
As their unlikely friendship grows, Chelsea emerges from her isolated existence, and she begins to find the confidence to enjoy life. But bullies are bullies, and they remain as vicious as ever. One terrible encounter threatens to destroy everything Chelsea has worked so hard to achieve. Readers will be captivated by Chelsea’s journey as she discovers the courage to declare her own beauty and self-worth, no matter what others might think. A must-read for anyone who loves to explore the personal but powerful territory of everyday life.
Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? Read on for more about Chris’s process, her previous books, and the experiences that informed NICE GIRLS ENDURE. Thanks for being on the blog, Chris!
1. What inspired you to write NICE GIRLS ENDURE? What experiences did you draw on to write Chelsea’s story?
My inspiration for “Nice Girls Endure” was most decidedly the students I work with. Chelsea Duvay, the main character of the book, has a social anxiety disorder, has been bullied, and is very self-conscious about her weight. Because of these issues she has a difficult time coping in social situations and absolutely dreads school. Through the course of the book, though, she makes a friend, realizes the power of family, and begins to understand how strong she can be. This idea came about because I work with so many students who have similar issues. Almost one in five students struggle with social anxiety these days, and many such students attend the online charter school where I work. I wish I could put strength and hope into these students, but they have to find it in themselves.
2. This is your second novel, your first one being the dystopian WHISPER. These are two dramatically different books—or are they? What has your experience been like working on two such different novels? Do they have anything in common?
These books are very different, and yet not as dissimilar as one may think. They both have strong female protagonists who have to overcome self-esteem issues to find their place in the world. Even though the first book was dystopian, it deals with contemporary issues of bullying, finding true friends, and being supported by strong families. Even though these topics and themes take different forms in the books, they are the same issues and the characters must work to overcome them.
3. What was your process for writing NICE GIRLS ENDURE?
The process for writing “Nice Girls Endure” was very different from my first book, “Whisper”. I wrote the bulk of NGE in about a month. I had Chelsea’s voice in my head at all times and knew exactly what she wanted to say. And then it took me another two years to write the last 10,000 words. Funny how inspiration works sometimes. I did not have an agent for my first book, so finding a publisher consisted of starting all over again by sending out sample chapters to possible agents. It took me about three months to find Dawn Frederick of Red Sofa Literary Agency and I am so thankful for her help and support. She has been fantastic.
4. What’s your ideal workspace? Work music? Pen and paper, or computer? Tea or coffee?
I am probably the worst example when it comes to developing a good writing work space. I usually sit at the dining room table, which means it isn’t a permanent space, and I’m usually writing when I can squeeze out some time. I do not write every day at the same time in the same way. I write when I can, and I would not advise this system for anyone. It means that sometimes I get a lot of writing done, and sometimes very little. But somehow, it does get done.
And it amazes me that Chris does, considering how many things she has to juggle! Thanks for appearing on my blog, and I’m excited to get my hands on my own copy of NICE GIRLS ENDURE.