Today I’m interviewing Wendi Nunnery as part of The Best Kept Secret Blog Tour!
In high school, everyone has secrets. Even well-brought-up Emma Fraser.
Emma’s sophomore year started out all wrong. First, her best friend Andy confessed to losing his virginity leaving Emma all alone in the V-Club. Then the rest of her friends got weird and suddenly Emma finds herself feeling like the people she knows best have become total strangers. And total strangers are becoming friends.
When Deegan Burke, a rich, gorgeous senior, asks Emma to be his date for the prom, Emma thinks her luck has begun to change. But rather than being able to bask in this newfound glory, her whole world starts to unravel. And when secrets that once seemed so innocent start to take a very dangerous turn, Emma discovers that true friends are friends no matter what…and some secrets aren’t worth keeping.
1. How did you come up with the ideas for The Best Kept Secret?
It’s not a happy story, unfortunately. My younger sister, who was just starting high school at the time, had lost two schoolmates to suicide over a short period of time. One of them, who was 16 when he ended his life, had been bullied ruthlessly about his sexual orientation. And it seemed like every single day I was hearing similar news reports all across the country. Teenagers were dying. They were hiding out from school, feeling hopeless, frightened, and alone, and choosing death over life because, to them, it seemed like the only choice. And when I heard how they’d been mistreated, I understood why they felt that way. It was heart-wrenching.
I originally wrote The Best Kept Secret as a short story for a fiction contest in Atlanta. But I didn’t want to stop there. I wanted to offer a voice to the teenagers who didn’t have one, even if it was just on paper. I wanted people to understand how powerful their words are and, more than anything, I wanted people to remember that just because teenagers are young doesn’t mean their struggles are any less important. In fact, they’re probably more so because what they endure today lays a foundation for the rest of their lives.
2. Describe your writing process? Are you a planner or do you write by the seam of your pants?
A little of both. I’m one of the lucky ones who actually writes for my day job, as well, so I get a good deal of practice in and that helps me stay on top of all my work, both professional and personal. Before I start writing, I usually have an idea of what I want the story to be, but I don’t do outlines beforehand. I take the few small details in my head and just get to work. Once a story progresses, and things become more complicated, I’ll usually take a step back and outline in order to keep my thoughts organized. But for the most part it’s pretty organic.
3. What makes you happy?
Oh, good question! My husband and my daughter are the first things that come to mind. Life with them is so much fun. Sitting on the porch, drinking coffee, and having endless conversations with the people I love are a few others. Reading. Christmas. That hopeful, nostalgic feeling I get when I look at the ocean or visit my beloved alma mater. Prayer. Music. Grace. I could keep going, but I’ll stop here.
4. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Just do the work. It’s tough, I know. There were many days when I just wanted to binge-watch another series on Netflix instead of write, but I made myself do it because it wasn’t going to get done otherwise. Don’t be afraid to take breaks, of course, but be consistent and push through the tedious stuff. It will pay off, I promise.
5. What are your writing goals?
All I want is to write something true, something that connects with people and makes them feel a bit more at peace with being human. We’re all broken and messy and that’s okay. We’re broken and messy together.
6. When are aren’t writing, what do you get up to?
My husband and I spend a lot of time reading, going out to eat (Atlanta is a great place for food!), and hanging out with our sweet girl, Lucy. We also volunteer with our church and both lead groups of high school students there. I love to shop at thrift stores and walk around bookstores with an iced chai latte. I try to convince my favorite people to come along with me most of the time because, in my opinion, there isn’t much better than caffeine running through your veins and good people at your side.
7. What are your favourite books?
Can I say Harry Potter? Because Harry Potter. Always. It’s an addiction, really.
Also I’m a big fan of gothic novels like Kate Morton’s The House at Riverton and historical romance like Ciji Ware’s Island of Swans. Those are my favorites genres, but I also love memoirs, thrillers like Gone Girl, and anything that makes me laugh.
8. What is the most important thing you’ve learnt in your writing journey?
The most important thing I’ve learned is that loving my work doesn’t make it easy. But it does make it more valuable. We can all do valuable things – even if we aren’t necessarily happy to do them – but when I’m telling stories because it’s what I love to do, rather than because I have to do it, I find that people connect with it more. It’s more genuine. It’s more honest. Writing is my place in this world. It’s my ministry. And I’m grateful that it found me.