Google+ Reading Teen: Interview with Holly Cupala, Author of Don't Breathe a Word

Monday, January 2, 2012

Interview with Holly Cupala, Author of Don't Breathe a Word

 Holly Cupala

  • Tell Me A Secret
  • Don't Breathe a Word
DBAW sneak preview | Website | Twitter | Buy DBAW 
Don’t Breathe a Word is mostly Joy’s story—she runs away from home to escape a secretly abusive relationship and lands on the streets of Seattle, where she finds allies with secrets of their own. Creed, May, and Santos take her in and teach her about loyalty, survival, and even love.

I absolutely loved Don't Breathe a Word.  I loved Joy's story, and I adore me some Creed!!  But two of the most compelling characters to me were May and Santos, two kids that Joy lives with on the streets.  Their stories are heartbreaking and mysterious, so I'm glad to get this chance to learn a little more about them.

Hello, Andye, and thanks so much for inviting me to Reading Teen! (I got to meet Andye at a conference last year, and I have to say she is the nicest, most beautiful person and a great supporter of YA books!)
Thank you so much, Holly! You know you're one of my favorite people, and I loved getting to know you at ALA!!

Don't Breathe a Word previewJoy meets May and Santos, and ends up basically living with them. Can you tell us what the relationship is between May and Santos?
May and Santos definitely have a history, but they are very private about what that history is. Sometimes they seem like family, other times they seem like best friends, other times you might think their relationship has something more. I think it’s deeper than any of those things. They have shared experiences, shared hurts, shared past. I hope they have some kind of a shared future.
Both May and Santos have had to go to extreme lengths to take care of themselves on the street. How did they get to that point? What has it done to them emotionally?
Both May and Santos have dark pasts and secrets they keep, and that has shaped them. May comes from the streets and Santos from the foster system, but both have been abused in a myriad of ways and have learned to fend for themselves both physically and emotionally. For May, that means disguising her vulnerability behind a funny, caustic personality. Santos seems more open and likeable, but he is perhaps the most secretive of all.
What does May think of Joy/Triste? Does she feel like she's a poser?
It takes a while for May to warm up to Joy (who takes on the street name “Triste”)—mostly because she comes to an acknowledgement that Joy has a “right” to be there as much as she does. Once Joy has earned her respect, there is a kind of gruding understanding. And I think May might see Joy as an earlier version of herself. A lot of conflicting feelings in there, as you could probably tell!
Do May and Santos have any special gifts/talents that they may be able to use in the future to change their circumstances?
Yes, definitely—both have street savvy, and each of them has a talent that Joy refers to as “street powers.” May has the power of disguise, and Santos has a kind of verbal agility. Neither of them considers their talents to be viable, though, until Joy confronts them. At first their reactions are negative, and her efforts appear to be a failure. In that sense, they have to learn to change how they think about themselves to begin to consider that they have any kind of value. Joy goes through that process, too—she learns the power of words. At the end you see the outcome, the beginnings of a hopeful future.
Thanks, Holly for showing us a little more of these fascinating, compelling, and fiercely determined characters!  I can't wait until the world has read this amazing book!
Thank you so much, Andye, for inviting me to Reading Teen! Readers, stop by the rest of the Don’t Breathe a Word tour for contests, secrets, exclusive excerpts, and lots of chances to win books and swag—I hope you enjoy Don’t Breathe a Word!

About the Book
Joy Delamere is suffocating.

From asthma, from her parents, and from her boyfriend, Asher, who is smothering her from the inside out. She can take his cruel words, his tender words . . . until the night they go too far.

To escape, Joy sacrifices her suburban life to find the one who offered his help, a homeless boy called Creed. He introduces her to a world of fierce loyalty, to its rules of survival, and to love—a world she won’t easily let go.

Set against the backdrop of the streets of Seattle, Holly Cupala’s power­ful new novel explores the subtleties of abuse, the secrets we keep, and the ways to redemption. But above all, it is an unflinching story about the extraordinary lengths one girl will go to discover her own strength.


  1. Great post! I'm really looking forward to this book it sounds incredible!

    Xpresso Reads

  2. Holly is amazing and I'm definitely excited to read this novel. Thanks for the great interview, Andye

  3. Loved the interview! I'm really looking forward to this release. Thanks!

  4. Really awesome blog tour & interview! Seems like a great writer!

  5. Another super interview with Holly. The whole blog tour has been really great!
    This book is going to be phenomenal =)

    Happy New Year!

    Gena Robertson

  6. Thank you so much, Andye, for hosting me - it means a lot to me that you love this book and these characters. I love them, too! And thank you to all of you readers!

  7. I loved this interview. May and Santos were two of my favorite characters and I love how strong and loyal they are, and much like Holly, I hope they get to have a great future ):


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