Author Interview with Brenda Chapman

Author Interview with Brenda Chapman

Posted on September 2 by admin
Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on Pinterest

Today our author interview is with Brenda Chapman, author of one of our new releases, Second Chances. Brenda tells us about her new book, which character she is most attached to, and what inspired her to write this novel.

Caitlyn: Tell us about your book.

Brenda: Second Chances is a young adult novel set in 1971 in cottage country in the Northumberland Hills. The narrator is fifteen year old Darlene Findley, who spends summers at Cedar Lake working with her mother in their general store. This summer, Darlene’s seventeen year old cousin Elizabeth has been banished to the lake by her parents in the hopes that time away from Toronto will straighten her out. A cast of eclectic characters live at the lake this summer, including a family of mysterious hippies and a reclusive journalist who nurtures Darlene’s interest in becoming a writer. The road is not a smooth one for Darlene, who has to deal with a critical, over-protective father and her bored cousin Elizabeth, who makes it her mission to seduce every male in her path and to make Darlene’s life a torment. Darlene also suspects that her mother is having an affair with one of the newcomers at the lake and worries that her parents’ outwardly unhappy marriage will fall completely apart. The novel is a coming of age story set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War and the age of peace, love and rock and roll.

Caitlyn: Tell us a little about the overarching theme of your work, and why you felt compelled to explore it.

Brenda: There are two overarching themes that I’m exploring in this book. The first is the loss of innocence –  both for the generation that sent its young soldiers to fight across the ocean in a fruitless war and for Darlene, her family and friends who are going through a lot of change and upheaval that particular summer.  The second theme, which is found in the title, is one of forgiveness and second chances. Darlene learns to forgive not only her family members but also herself as she comes to understand that people do not always reveal what is in their heart.

Caitlyn: How did you research your book?

Brenda: The research was great fun since I was about the same age as Darlene in 1971. I remembered a lot about the era although some of my exact memories were fuzzy when it came down to pinpointing the exact year. I looked up archival material in the CBC vault and made Google searches, reading up on the politics and the Vietnam War. I also watched a lot of old rock videos on YouTube – what a treasure trove for music buffs!

Caitlyn: What inspired your to write your first book?

Brenda: I’ve always had a passion for writing and studied creative writing in university. I also enjoy teaching and worked for a time with kids who had trouble learning to read. One day, I decided to combine my two interests by writing a book for my daughters who were twelve and nine at the time. I based my heroine Jennifer Bannon and her little sister Leslie on my girls and made Running Scared a mystery because I love reading them.

Caitlyn: In your own work, which character are you most attached to and why?

Brenda: I was very attached to Jennifer Bannon when I wrote each of the books in the series, and now I’m rather partial to Darlene Findley, who is just that little bit older and feistier. Both girls have marvellous senses of humour, compassion and intelligence, traits I admire in people of all ages.

Brenda Chapman began her children’s fiction career with Running Scared, the first in the Jennifer Bannon series. Hiding in Hawk’s Creek was shortlisted for the CLA Book of the Year for Children. Her first mystery for adults, In Winter’s Grip, was published in 2010. She lives in Ottawa, Ontario.