One of the things I love is talking with authors about how they approach writing and what they most loved about their books. Today I’m super excited to welcome Bethany Hensel to the blog to chat with her about her excellent book, UNSTOPPABLE.
Unstoppable tells the tale of young, intelligent and handsome Derek Archer, whose life is finally beginning. He’s just about to graduate from high school, land the job he’s always wanted, and move in with the girl he’s always loved, Victoria. There’s no reason for him to question or want for anything…until the day Victoria’s father is shot and killed, setting off a devastating, heartbreaking chain of reactions.
Now, the race is on, and Derek has only three days to right a terrible wrong. With the help of a childhood friend with a penchant for high-tech espionage, they investigate every lead, never imagining their search would take them deep into the heart of a seemingly perfect family, where old ghosts, bitter lies, and agonizing betrayal all collide. It’s then, with the lives of everyone he holds dear in the balance, Derek discovers just how unimaginable the truth can be…and how unstoppable.
Full of twists and turns, this breathtaking story is The Bourne Identity meets Baz Lurhmann’s Romeo and Juliet…expect action, expect danger, expect love.
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Sounds awesome, right? (That’s because it is.) Bethany is a fantastic writer, and I’m thrilled to have her here talking about UNSTOPPABLE as well as the next book in her Truth and Love series, IRREVERSIBLE. Alright, let’s go!
Hey Bethany! When did you first know that you wanted to write books? Was it something you’ve always known or a talent you discovered along the way?
Hey Alex! Thanks for having me here! Excellent question. I love this interview already. 🙂 From a very young age, I loved to perform. I loved to dance and sing and tell stories. As I got older, the need to be an entertainer never diminished, though it took a while for me to figure out what medium I would go into. I think I was 16 or 17….maybe 18, when I read Harlan Coben’s Tell No One and it really changed my life. I decided, in that moment, I wanted to entertain a person the way Harlan Coben had entertained me with that story. So I wrote my first tale shortly thereafter and the rest is history.
I love how one book can just change everything like that. Awesome! The world of UNSTOPPABLE is one that I can just lose myself in— from the moment we meet Derek on page one, we know right away that he’s in an unforgiving place, but a place that he’s also learned to thrive in. What was the inspiration for that world?
Aw thanks so much! The world of Unstoppable is very much like this one. The only real change is the laws that govern the world. It’s a very strict place to be, and therefore, very scary. One false move and you’re done! That sense of urgency came from the fact that I wanted this story to hit the ground running and not stop. It was incredibly important to me that the stakes in Unstoppable were literally life and death.
I’m a big believer in pushing limits and experimenting as a writer. Was there a point in writing this that you felt you were pushing yourself or trying something new?
I thought I was a bit out of the box with the layout of the work, but no, I don’t think I got too experimental. 🙂 But then again, weirdness is in the eye of the beholder, so I’ll leave it up to the readers. 🙂
The pacing in UNSTOPPABLE is also top-notch. From one scene to the next, the action doesn’t let up until the very last page. How did you get that jump-off-the-pages energy in your work?
Whew! Glad you felt that way because that’s what I was going for! Like I said, Harlan Coben really changed my life and his books have been a huge influence on my writing. His stories are lean and mean and I wanted mine to read the same. I enjoy reading stories like that. Yes, I also enjoy reading very lush, lyrical books that take their time, but there’s something about a high-stakes cat and mouse chase that really entertains me.
So to ensure I wrote a lean, mean story, I had one rule in mind: nothing extra, nothing superfluous, nothing slow. If I thought a scene, chapter, paragraph, sentence or word began to drag the story, I cut it. I was merciless!! Trust me! It started out at 130,000 words and I chopped it down to about 66,000.
That sounds like some hardcore revisions! I am in awe. Alright, time for a process question. 🙂 Do you listen to music while you write, or do you have other writing rituals?
I listened to the Man of Steel soundtrack a lot! But if the story had a theme song, I’d say it was Bryan Adams Everything I Do, I Do it For You. That sums up the story pretty darn well!
Aahhh! I can so see that. What character in UNSTOPPABLE was the most fun for you to write, and why?
Victoria! I can’t say why because then I would spoil it, but she was a TON of fun! When you read the book, you’ll know instantly why. 🙂
I don’t want to spoil it either, but YES. I also loved Sabrina, and I’m so thrilled we get to hear more about her in IRREVERSIBLE. Can you tell us more about that story and maybe give us a hint about what we can expect?
Thanks Alex! Sabrina is one of my favorite characters! I love how tall and sassy she is. 🙂 As for what you can expect in Irreversible….humor, tons of verbal sparring, bathroom cat fights and slumber parties at Derek’s house! You will also find answers, especially the one to what happened that night. The book is a novella, but it’s jam-packed with twists and turns and a lot of surprises. It was a fun book to write and I hope it translates in the reading. 🙂
As a huge fan of both verbal sparring and slumber parties, I am super excited about it. *moves to top of TBR* And lastly, what is one piece of writing advice that you’ve learned from working on your books?
I’ve learned that it will come together. As long as I am patient, work hard and not give up, the story will come together. There were some hairy moments when I thought the book would never end or it would never gel and make sense. But that’s when I needed to be the strongest and push through the tough edits and have faith the story would all come together in the end. Sometimes, you make a mess of things when you write, and it’s hard to see the progress and good stuff going on underneath the mess. But it’s there. I’ve learned that if I just keep going, keeping sitting at the computer one day after the other, writing one word after the next (even if I’ll just end up deleting them later anyway) I’m making progress. The book is becoming better and that’s always been my goal. Write the best book I possibly can. 🙂
Great advice! As someone who’s also been through some dicey revisions, I love this. Persistence and diligence, guys. 🙂 Thanks Bethany for such a fun interview!