A fun Q&A with the author... The How & the Why by Cynthia Hand (Interview & #Giveaway) @The_FFBC

Welcome to my tour stop! I was so thrilled to get to interview
the author, so check that out and enter the tour giveaway below...

The How & the Why
By Cynthia Hand
YA Contemporary, Time-Slip
Hardcover, Audiobook & ebook, 464 Pages
November 5th 2019 by HarperTeen


A poignant exploration of family and the ties that bind, from New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand.

Cassandra McMurtrey has the best parents a girl could ask for; they’ve given Cass a life she wouldn’t trade for the world. She has everything she needs—but she has questions, too. Like, to know who she is. Where she came from. Questions her adoptive parents can’t answer, no matter how much they love her.

But eighteen years ago, someone wrote Cass a series of letters. And they may just hold the answers Cass has been searching for.

Alternating between Cass’s search for answers and letters from the pregnant teen who placed her for adoption, this emotionally resonant narrative is the perfect read for fans of Nina LaCour and Jandy Nelson.

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Would you tell us a little more about the main characters from THE HOW & THE WHY?

There book follows the stories of two women: S and Cass. S goes by the letter S because she doesn’t want to give her name. She is living in a home for pregnant teens in the year 2000, writing a series of letters to the baby she intends to place for adoption right after the birth. S describes herself as “solidly average,” but she’s whip smart and sarcastic and not afraid to stand up for herself. She doesn’t have a happy or nurturing home life, but she has high hopes for the future.

Cass is the baby S is writing to, eighteen years later. She’s a senior in high school, a theater nerd, thinking about where she wants to go to college. Cass’ mom had a heart attack the year before and needs a heart transplant, so everything has been put on hold while the family deals with that. Her dad is an elementary school teacher, a really sweet and funny guy. Cass is surrounded by people who love her: her parents, her hilarious grandma and uncle, a solid circle of friends, and her best friend, Nyla. Nyla can relate to Cass in a way because Nyla’s also adopted, but she was orphaned in Africa and adopted by a Mormon family when she was three, so her experience is also entirely different from Cass’s.

If Cass's biological mother could only say one thing to Cass, what would she say?

Wow, one thing. S has a lot of things to say, but in the end it all boils down to “I’m doing this because I love you.”

If Cass could say one thing to her biological mother, what would she say?

She would say thank you.

What is your favorite thing about the book’s cover?

I love the cover so much, especially the way both girls are standing and facing each other outside of this one building. They are both in the same place, thinking about each other, but from different times. You’ll notice that the seasons are different, depending on which side of the book you look at—summer in one, fall in another. It’s like they are gazing at each other from across time. I can’t tell you how much I love that.

But my favorite thing is that the building that they are standing in front of is a real building: it’s part of the Marian Pritchett school in Boise, Idaho. It was once called the Booth house, the “home for unwed mothers” where pregnant women once went to hide away. It’s where S’s side of the story takes place. A real place. I love that.

What part or aspect of this story do you love the most?

For me, the best part of writing this book was seeing the connections between S and Cass, traits and experiences and touchstones that neither one of them is aware of, because they don’t know each other, but are there, all the same.

Did you find anything especially challenging or interesting while researching and writing THE HOW & THE WHY?

I’m adopted, so in so many ways this book was intensely personal for me. I’m not Cass, and her story is not my story, but the emotions that Cass feels throughout the novel are sometimes emotions that I’ve felt. Sometimes writing about Cass made me ask myself some uncomfortable questions about myself. But that’s why I write novels, in the end, to help me think through things.

I was fascinated by the Booth house and its history. It started out as a farmhouse on the edge of town, and then slowly got swallowed up by the town and changed over the decades. In the sixties they built this big brick building to be the home and a kind of lying-in hospital where the women could have their babies in private. There are still a line of salon-style sinks in the basement, so they could have their hair done without going into town. Then it became a school as well as a home, so the girls could get their high school diplomas. At one time it was so crowded there were four girls to a room, which was crazy to think about. The time I was writing about –circa 2000—was around the last year or so that girls actually lived at the school. It still serves as a school, but the girls don’t live on campus anymore. It does have a daycare on site though, and this building that is fitted as a kind of store where the girls can “buy” baby supplies and toys and clothes with the points they earn for doing well at the school. I could write an entire novel entirely about that.

Do you have any specific snacks you eat or music you listen to when you write?

I try not to snack while I write, although I do drink tea and coffee (before noon). I don’t listen to music while I write, either, because the changing emotions of the music influences me too easily. But I do like to listen to music before and after I write, for inspiration. I listened to a lot of music while I was thinking about S, because she loves music.

What are you working on next?

I am working on my next book with the Janes (my co-authors who I wrote MY LADY JANE, MY PLAIN JANE, and MY CALAMITY JANE with): My Contrary Mary, which is about Mary, Queen of Scots. This takes place in the same world as My Lady Jane did, with people who can turn into animals. It has been so much fun to work on. I’m also hard at work on my next solo book, but I can’t tell you much about that, yet.

About the Author

Cynthia Hand is the New York Times bestselling author of several books for teens, including the UNEARTHLY trilogy, THE LAST TIME WE SAY GOODBYE, MY LADY JANE and MY PLAIN JANE (with fellow authors Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows), THE AFTERLIFE OF HOLLY CHASE, and the upcoming novels THE HOW AND THE WHY and MY CALAMITY JANE (also with Ashton and Meadows). Before turning to writing for young adults, she studied literary fiction and earned both an M.F.A. and a Ph.D. in fiction writing. She currently resides in Boise, Idaho, with her husband, two cats, one crazy dog, two kids, and mountain of books.

Tour Schedule
Tour-Wide Giveaway

Win (1) of (2) copies of THE HOW AND THE WHY by Cynthia Hand (US Only)
Ends November 13th 2019

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