Circle Of Silence
Washington Irving High is normally a pretty easy going place, so when a mysterious secret society begins playing pranks around campus, it's noted and ignored. However, when one of their 'jokes' causes a student to be severely injured, the entire school is abuzz.
As the new Crew Chief for Campus News - WiHi's weekly TV broadcast - Valerie Gaines is determined to expose the faceless group and end their increasingly dangerous games. Is it a coven of witches? A demented student? A vengeful janitor? Nobody knows. Some students want to join the group because it seems cool. Others fear it.
As for Valerie and her team, by trying to uncover the truth, they are quickly becoming the target of the society's anonymous proclamations...and violence. When getting the story means sacrificing the boy she just might be in love with, how will Valerie - or anyone - live with the consequences of what happens in the endgame?
This is Carol M Tanzman's first YA novel with Harlequin Australia. She has published two YA novels in North America already and her first book The Shadow Place was chosen as an ALA Recommended Books for Reluctant Readers, and he National Council of Teachers Best Books.
Circle Of Silence
Author: Carol M Tanzman
Interview with Carol M Tanzman
Question: What inspired you to write Circle Of Silence?
Carol M Tanzman: I was inspired by so many of the awesome young women that I know who are really engaged in the world, whether it's the arts, sports, fighting to save the environment or trying to right a wrong, no matter how small. I wanted to write a book with a main character who is both passionate and ambitious. Valerie Gaines is on the Campus News TV team. A secret society calling itself MP starts to do mysterious, and increasingly dangerous, pranks. As Val tries to discover who is in the group, she must decide just how far she will go to get the story.
Question: Can you talk about the challenges you faced when writing Circle Of Silence?
Carol M Tanzman: My biggest challenge was writing MP's log (or journal). The book is narrated by Valerie Gaines although a secondary voice belonging to someone in MP appears sporadically throughout the novel. The journal-writer is the exact opposite of Val. Getting into MP's head was much harder than writing Valerie because, as a person, I am much closer to Val. In addition, it's always a challenge when writing a thriller to keep the plot moving, constantly twisting things in realistic, yet suspenseful ways.
Question: What was the best thing about creating the character of Valerie Gaines?
Carol M Tanzman: As I started writing, it was easy to understand Val's drive and set up the early scenes in the TV Production class. I soon realised, however, that someone who is only ambitious is a "one-note" character and may not be particularly sympathetic (nobody likes a "know-it-all."). Obviously, teens have more than one focus in their lives; there are friends, crushes, family, and school. It was a lot of fun creating a back story for one of the guys, Jagger Voorham, that directly conflicts with Valerie. He joins Campus News in the first chapter, used to be her boyfriend but dumped her last year without a word of explanation. That gives Val a vulnerability that is very recognisable. I also loved writing about her crazy family: younger sister Bethany, who is just starting high school, their twin 6 year-old brothers, and her overwhelmed parents. In addition, the other students on her news crew were also fun to write because they are so different. It all helped me to create a fully realised character, always my primary goal when writing.
Question: What do you enjoy most about writing for young adults?
Carol M Tanzman: Young adults have so much drama in their lives! As a former theatre director, that definitely draws me. So many things are new: first loves and first break-ups, friends who betray and friends who stand by you. There is school pressure: the daily stress of homework and tests as well as trying to decide what you want to do after high school. There's always plenty of family drama. Mistakes are made, lessons learned. Perhaps the biggest draw, however, is that the world stretches ahead for teens and it's exciting to write about that.
Question: Have you always wanted to be a writer? Who or what originally inspired you to put pen to paper?
Carol M Tanzman: I started my career as a professional theatre director. I worked a lot with new plays and living playwrights. After awhile, I realised I should stop trying to fix their plays and start writing my own work! I started with plays but the instant I tried writing prose, I discovered that I could do so much more with description and inner thought, as well as dialogue, and I never looked back!
Question: Can you share your writing schedule with us; when do you write and how do you go about writing your books?
Carol M Tanzman: On my writing days, I start in the morning when I'm fresh. I try to write at least five pages a day -and will go until I reach that goal. If I'm on a roll, I can write a lot more than that. Since I also teach drama (a job I love) I do most of my first draft writing on the weekends, summer and winter vacations, and any other days that school is not in session. Once I have a first draft, I'm able to revise after school or at night.
I don't do a detailed outline of the book. Instead, I write a 3-4 page "short story" with major plot details. That guides me as I write but also allows for a lot of surprises so that I can keep true to the characters as they develop. I never know the exact ending until I get there. I'll have some ideas, of course, but I really let the momentum of the story take over.