When their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, Dee, her boyfriend Luke, and Luke’s brother, Mike, seek help in the nearby town of Purity Springs. But as they walk the vacant streets, the teens make some disturbing discoveries. The seemingly deserted homes each contain a sinister book with violent instructions on disciplining children. The graveyard is full of unmarked crosses. Worst of all, there’s no way to contact the outside world.
When Purity Springs’ inhabitants suddenly appear, the trio find themselves at the mercy of Elijah Hawkins, the town’s charismatic leader who has his own plans for the three of them. Their only hope for survival is Elijah’s enigmatic son, Joseph. And his game may be just as deadly as his father’s . . .
Welcome Trish and Lindsay, and thanks for spending some time with us.
Brian: CREED sounds like a very grisly story. Did you pull any punches because of the intended young adult readership?
Lindsay: Absolutely not. While I think an awareness of the target audience you’re writing for is important, we don’t like holding back for the sake of being safe. There’s a line between content that is valuable and content that is gratuitous, and we truly believe we’ve stayed on the right side of that line with CREED.
Ellie: What kind of ambitions do you have for your career?
Trish: To give the hundreds of characters circling my mind a fictional world to call their own. To get better with each chapter, with each manuscript I write. To find the courage to dig deeper and write harder than I ever dreamed possible. Essentially, I want to continue to grow as an author.
Lindsay: I love writing, so my ambitions are pretty simple: to keep doing it. Ten years from now if I’m still fortunate enough to be writing YA lit, I’ll be one grateful author.
Brian: A lot of dark YA stories feel like they’ve had inappropriately happy interludes and endings forced on them. Is this something you actively avoid doing in your work? Does the story dictate the tone, or does writing for a YA audience force you to sometimes lighten it up?
Trish: We’ve run up against this philosophy a few times: when you deprive a teen of a HEA (happily ever after) ending, you deprive them of hope. We don’t subscribe to that idea at all. We are firm believers that within real tragedy there is hope. The human experience is full of sacrifice, suffering, and pain, and we need to be honest to those experiences in our writing. If not, the story lacks authenticity; it is nothing more than a smattering of words on pages. Sure, your characters need closure, but closure doesn’t automatically equate happy feelings. With CREED, we were after the illusion of hope, no matter how small that sliver may be.
Ellie: Do you like to explore different genres with your writing?
Lindsay: As a writing duo, Trisha and I only write young adult fiction, but within that realm, we’ve written three very different books. CREED is psychological horror; Sweet Madness (releasing August 2015 with Merit Press) is historical fiction horror set in Fall River, MA, in the late 1800s; and Hardwired (releasing November 2015 with Flux/ Llewellyn) is realistic sci-fi. So we definitely like to explore.
Brian: CREED seems to be a very successful collaboration. Will this be a long-term partnership? Can we expect to see more from the two of you?
Trisha: As for what the future holds after the three books mentioned above, well, that’s anyone’s guess, including our own.
Ellie: How would you like to evolve creatively?
Trish: When I started writing about six years ago, publication wasn’t my goal. I wrote simply because I had story that I needed to get out, and the sheer act of giving those characters life brought me in indescribable amount of satisfaction. It was cathartic in a way. In that sense, I guess my goal is not to evolve as much as maintain. Monetizing your hobby comes with a whole set of outside expectations that often causes us to lose sight of why we started writing in the first place. I never want to lose that initial rush that accompanies the first spark of a story or the deep sense of satisfaction that comes with typing “The End.”
Lindsay: Wow, great question. Honestly, I’d like to continue to explore my own voice within YA by continuing to find the stories I want to tell. CREED was extremely fun to write and I honestly believe it’s doing so well because it’s what Trisha and I wanted to write at the time—what we felt passionate about as authors. There was no writing to the trend, or writing with caution because we were afraid of risk.
Brian: Collaboration can be a tricky business. How do you two divide the writing on a novel-length work?
Lindsay: From a drafting standpoint, it was pretty simple, if we’re being honest. Trisha and I have very similar writing styles so we would pass the manuscript back and forth (with a loose understanding of where the plot was going between us) and pick up where the other left off. That could be at the beginning of a new chapter, or in the middle of a paragraph. Either way, it’s worked nicely for us.
Ellie: As an avid reader, I like to think of back stories for each character. Do you do that while you’re writing?
Trish: Sometimes we have to look back in order to move our stories forward. Our characters are a product of their fictional environment and their decisions reflect that. Motivation provokes action and that motivation is the sum of past experiences, present situations, and future dreams. So when setting up our fictional world, we purposefully choose characters who have the most to lose, whose personal history and future dreams enhance the conflict. In CREED, it’s Dee’s history of abuse, her resultant guarded nature, and her fear of losing what little freedom she has finally gained that makes her physical (and mental) struggle to escape Purity Springs all the more powerful.
Brian: Do your characters evolve and change as your stories progress, or do they begin fully fleshed out?
Lindsay: We need a firm understanding of who each character is independent of the plot at hand to understand what their individual journey will be.
Ellie: Who are some of the writers who inspired you?
Trish: If you were to look up my library history as a kid, you’d see it was dominated by Nancy Drew and Judy Blume—a fine balance of mystery and emotion if I do say so myself. As for the horror that shaped my formative years, Swan Song by Robert McCammon made the most significant impression. I remember sneaking it out of my father’s bookshelf at the ripe old age of twelve and devouring it. As I got older, I became fascinated with Edward Gorey and his often-unsettling pen-and-ink illustrations. To be honest, I’m still insanely fascinated with all of their works.
Lindsay: Stephen King was a huge inspiration to me. I read a lot of his books as a kid and to this day, when I see reviews come in about CREED that mention his name, I get goosebumps. It’s the highest praise possible for me.
Brian: Who are some of your current favorites?
Trish: I am currently and unabashedly on an adult historical fiction binge. I just finished The White Queen by Philippa Gregory and am currently enthralled with The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom.
Lindsay: Right now, I’m on a bit of a fantasy kick. So I’m thoroughly in love with Marie Rutkoski and Mary E. Pearson. Both create absolutely swoon-worthy characters and luscious worlds and write with a confidence I wholeheartedly admire.
Ellie: What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Trish: Write the book of your heart each and every time. Be true to your characters and let them forge their own path. Give them enough creative freedom, give them a strong enough voice, and they will write the book for you.
Lindsay: Don’t give up. No matter how clichéd that sounds, it’s absolutely true. My path to publication was not easy by any stretch of the imagination and it took me a lot of no’s to get that one yes. But it happened for me, and it will for any writer who dedicates themselves to their goal.
Thanks again for visiting with us. Best of luck with CREED.
Trisha Leaver lives on Cape Cod with her husband, three children, and one rather excitable black lab. She is a chronic daydreamer who prefers the cozy confines of her own imagination to the mundane routine of everyday life. Trisha writes young adult contemporary, psychological horror, and science fiction.
Lindsay Currie lives in Chicago, Illinois, with her husband, three children, and one irreverent bullmastiff named Sam. She’s fond of coffee, chocolate and things that go bump in the night. An author of young adult and middle grade fiction, Currie is a proud member of SCBWI, The Horror Writers Association, and the YA Scream Queens.
To learn more about Lindsay, please visit her website.