Anastasia Hopcus wrote her first book in the 2nd grade. It was entitled Frederick the Friendly French Ferret and was seven pages long. During high school she wrote numerous short stories and started (but never finished) three screenplays, all as an alternative to doing actual school work. At the very wise age of twelve her career ambition was to drive a Mack truck, but when that didn't pan out, she tried acting, bartending, and being a receptionist in a dojo before finally returning to writing. Anastasia loves horror movies, Joss Whedon, obsessing over music, and British accents. She lives in Austin, Texas and Shadow Hills is her debut novel. You can visit Anastasia at her website www.anastasiahopcus.com.
Phe would say: "Shadow Hills is a book I wrote about what happened during the first few weeks I spent at Devenish Prep. It's the story of how I met Zach and discovered some secrets about Shadow Hills, Massachusetts and the people who live there---not to mention finding out some things I didn't know about myself! I also managed to stumble upon a mystery and nearly wound up getting killed before we figured it all out."
2. Shadow Hills has such a great premise. I really like that it's a combination of mystery, suspense, paranormal, and boarding school story with a dash of romance. What were some of your inspirations as you were writing Shadow Hills?
All those elements are things that really appeal to me. I've always been intrigued by boarding schools; they're such a unique environment for a teen---a place where they're still in school yet not with their families. I also was interested in writing about the paranormal because I enjoy that in books and TV shows and movies. I wanted to find something a little different, but I wasn't sure what. Then I saw a 60 Minutes segment on a gifted savant, and I considered what it must be like to be incredibly gifted, as well as what drawbacks might go along with that kind of superior intelligence. That developed into the idea behind the town and people of Shadow Hills and their powers. Then, on a visit to Los Angeles, I got the idea for the character of Phe; I wanted her to be the person who goes to this unique place and begins to discover its secrets. As I thought about the story and expanded it, the mystery just sort of grew out of it. I've always liked mysteries and suspense---I loved Disturbia (as well as Rear Window, the movie it was based on.)
3. I have this thing about names, I love hearing how people got their names. How do you choose names for your characters?
In general, I try to choose names that fit that person. I usually get the idea of what the character is like, and then I go online and look up lots of different names until I find one that strikes me as suiting that character.
I'm often drawn to unusual names like Persephone. I planned for Shadow Hills to involve Greek myths and the goddess Hekate, so I chose names from myths for Phe and her sister, though I shortened Persephone's name to the nickname Phe. Later on, in my research into ancient Greek religion, I discovered that Hekate was part of the myth about Hades and Persephone, so Phe's name fit even better than I had imagined.
4. Phe is a strong female character in that she follows her instincts and she refuses to back down until she finds answers to her questions. Who are some of the strong female characters (from, books, movie or TV) that you have enjoyed reading or watching?
I've always loved strong female characters.
One of my favorites is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The way she exhibited strength and courage, while facing all the problems and issues facing of a more typical teen-age girl, was just inspiring. Temperance Brennan of Bones is another TV female character I admire.
But long before I watched Buffy, I was a big fan of Anne of Green Gables. She might not have been fighting demons and such, but she was a very strong girl, then woman, who was not afraid to tackle anything. As a teen, I began reading Elizabeth Peters' series of historical mysteries about Amelia Peabody, a woman in the late 1800's who went on archaeological digs and solved murders in her spare time. She was just a wonderfully strong character, even bossy.
5. I love finding out what authors are reading. What's the last book that you read and what are some of the books on your "to be read" list?
I recently finished Whisper, and I really enjoyed it. Its author, Phoebe Kitanidis, and I just had an autographing together this past weekend. Up next for me is Beautiful Darkness. I snagged a copy of it at the BEA and put it aside to read when all the craziness of Shadow Hills' debut was over. Only the craziness never seems to stop, so the book is still sitting there, waiting for me. I'm also dying to read Cyn Balog's Sleepless. Everyone says it is a very unique story---and that's something I love---if you can imagine that. ;)
Thanks so much for stopping by today Anastasia!!
If you haven't read Shadow Hills, you should definitely add it to your "to be read list." You won't be disappointed :) You can check out my review here.