All FOUR KIDS: An interview with Whitney Miller, author of The VIOLET HOUR

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Today we’re interviewing OneFourKidLit author Whitney Miller, whose YA debut THE VIOLET HOUR, releases today!

About THE VIOLET HOUR:

The voice inside me is breaking free. I can’t stop it. The Violet Hour

Some call VisionCrest the pinnacle of religious enlightenment. Others call it a powerful cult. For seventeen years, Harlow Wintergreen has called it her life.

As the daughter of VisionCrest’s patriarch, Harlow is expected to be perfect at all times. She must be considered a paragon of integrity by the other Ministry teens and a future leader in the eyes of the world.

Despite the constant scrutiny Harlow is keeping a dark and dangerous secret, even from her best friend and the boy she loves. She hears a voice in her head that seems to have a mind of its own, plaguing her with violent and bloody visions. It commands her to kill. And the urge to obey is getting harder and harder to control….

AS: Congratulations on your debut, Whitney! How did you develop/think up the concept for the book?

WM: Thank you so much! It’s sort of hard to say how it all came together. The whole crazy adventure started with a trip to Tokyo, and a quiet moment in Yoyogi Park. I was sitting under a cherry tree that still had a few beaten blossoms clinging to its limbs, watching these Harajuku teens just kind of hanging out. For reasons that only a writer’s subconscious could explain, I thought: this would be such a cool beginning to a horror book! Then came this name, like lightning from the blue: Harlow Wintergreen. When I got home I just sat down and started writing, and The Violet Hour is what came out!

AS: Not only are the characters in the book richly imagined, the cult of VisionCrest is too. It’s really a main character in itself. What kind of research did you do to develop VisionCrest? Were there any religious cults or organizations you modeled VisionCrest after or used for inspiration?

WM: I did a ton of research, and also drew from my own experiences. VisionCrest isn’t modeled after any one religion or organization but rather takes its inspiration from many different ones. And there’s a healthy dose of good old-fashioned fiction in there – a lot of it I just straight up made up! In general I’ve always been curious about what draws people to faith, how they respond to its demands, and whether they ever question their core beliefs. This was a fun way for me to explore some sort of heavy stuff.

AS: If you had an inner voice (sinister like the voice in your book or otherwise) what would it tell you to do?

WM: She would probably tell me to (mentally) shut up. It’s pretty crowded in there already. I’d drive my own inner voice crazy.

AS: There’s a punk rock influence in this book and I’m dying to know what music you listened to while writing it? Did characters have their own “soundtracks”?

WM: There’s been a huge punk rock influence in my life, and it just felt like the right mood for the book. I loved the idea of Harlow and Adam finding those dusty punk rock records in some forgotten corner of the cult compound, and through them being introduced to this whole other world outside their walls. Punk rock is rebellious and loud, and gives a firm middle finger to the establishment. While writing TVH I would listen to Descendents, Minor Threat, Bad Religion, The Clash, Sex Pistols, and Propagandhi. Harlow was the only one with her own soundtrack, and it varied based on her mood. Lots of this amazing girl band called Warpaint – super atmospheric and moody, for all the angsting Harlow was doing over Adam. Also Metric because they have this altiverse-appropriate edge that I loved for Harlow’s world. Lana Del Rey, Thom Yorke, Grizzly Bear, The xx. They all played their part J

AS: Your experiences traveling in Asia bled through making the book very atmospheric. Will international locales inspire future books?  Is there a travel destination that you are eager to visit and possibly incorporate in the sequel?

WM: Bled through, eh? I see what you did there. Yes! International destinations abound in the sequel – we’re headed to Russia and Europe, so start packing and renew your passport. And I am desperate to tour all over India. I want to strike it independently wealthy (is that a thing?) and then live the Darjeeling dream.

AS: Did you read horror as a kid? Who were some of your favorites?

WM: These are really great questions. And yes! I read a ton of Stephen King (obvs) and of course (of course!) Christopher Pike, R.L. Stine, and Lois Duncan (no, seriously – I do know what you did last summer). Also lots of Sweet Valley High, which I didn’t realize was horror until I went back and skimmed some of it as an adult. <>

AS: What drew you to write young adult horror?

WM: Hmm…I didn’t really set out to write horror per se, and I sort of skip around to different genres. The thing I love best about horror is that the endings leave the door open just a crack…just far enough for a dark shadow to fall across the floor and for the reader not to know if they’re safe, even in the real world. Horror books have to go in the freezer for their evil to be properly contained. And might I add, bwahaha.

AS: As this community is fearless, we’d like to know something you are afraid of and something you are not afraid of.

WM: I am afraid of being average. That keeps me up at night and keeps me pushing every day. I’m not afraid of hard work. Or of my reflection in the mirror—but you probably will be after reading The Violet Hour!

Thank you so much for the interview, Whitney, and congratulations on your debut!

About Whitney A. Miller:Whitney Miller

Whitney A. Miller lives in San Francisco with her husband and a struggling houseplant. She’s summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, ridden the Transsiberian rails, bicycled through Vietnam, done the splits on the Great Wall of China, and evaded the boat police in Venice. Still, her best international adventures take place on the page. To learn more, visit her website, Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook.

Alexandra Sirowy PhotoAlexandra Sirowy is the author of THE CREEPING, a debut thriller for young adults coming from Simon and Schuster’s Books for Young Readers in the Summer of 2015. To learn more, visit Alexandrasirowy.com or follow her on Twitter.
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