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Beyond The Bio: Brenda Rufener

Even as we head into the final moments of the #BookMadness championship match-up between Harry Potter and To All The Boys I've Loved Before, we wanted to call a time-out and return with our regularly-scheduled #BeyondTheBio interviews. Today’s interview features two special guests and a signed giveaway! Let’s get to it!

Our first guest this week is #BeyondTheBio alumni Brenda Rufener, who joined us last year to chat about her debut novel Where I Live. She’s back with us again now to chat about her heartbreaking new book Since We Last Spoke--out this Tuesday. Brenda loves hiking.

And our teen interviewer today is Lia. Lia’s a high school student who hopes to become an author herself. She loves reading and the color green. Her favorite book is Meg Wiviott’s Paper Hearts.

Alright, let's get to the interview! And don't forget to stick around to the end to find out how you can win a signed copy of Since We Last Spoke and be the host of a future #BeyondTheBio interview.


Lia: Hello, Brenda! I just finished reading your book and thought it was amazing! I love the love Aggi and Max have for each other. Have you ever been forced to stay away from someone you love?

Brenda: Thank you, Lia, for your lovely words about Since We Last Spoke. Thrilled to hear you enjoyed reading about Aggi’s and Max’s journey! Love is definitely the North Star that guides these young lovers through their lives and through the pages of the book. Fortunately, I have never been forced to stay away from someone I love, especially to the degree that Max and Aggi face, but that’s not to say there hasn’t been resistance.

Lia: Grace was a character who really stood out to me because she's scared and naive. She's just a little girl who's watching her family slowly drift away from each other. How did you come up with her character?

Brenda: I think on some level we all feel, at times, helpless and scared. As a child, especially one as young as Grace, watching your family slowly drift apart has to be the most frightening thing to experience. I wanted to capture what a child, like Grace, might go through when a family tragedy occurs. Through Grace’s eyes we gain a different perspective than seen from Aggi’s vantage point. Grace has her own worries but is unable to voice them. One obstacle, of course, is her age, but also the fact that she’s no longer allowed to spend time with the people she loves.

Lia: Henry’s like me in a lot of ways. We’re both the family outcast. Were you ever the outcast in your family?

Brenda: Most definitely was I a Henry, or the black sheep of the family. Pretty sure I still am! But, here’s the thing about black sheep. All the things that make us black sheep are the incredible things that make up who we are. We couldn’t change them even if we tried. I’m okay with that.

Lia: My favorite scene from the book is when a naked Aggi jumps into the freezing lake. I’m too much of a chicken to ever do anything like that. What about you? Have you ever done anything like that?

Brenda; You are not alone! I can’t imagine jumping into a freezing lake unless I absolutely had to! I can’t even imagine jumping into a cool lake on a hot summer day. There is too much unknown swimming around in that dark watery abyss. My feet are firmly planted on the ground. Let’s just say there are many forms of bravery.

Lia: I’m curious about Kate and Cal. Were they ever in a relationship, or were they just really close friends?

Brenda: Kate and Cal were definitely close, and the best of friends, but I left the interpretation of their relationship up to the reader. What you believe about them is true.

Lia: You’ve written multiple books now. I like writing too, and my friends and family say I'm good at it. But I’m scared. Any advice that could help me out?

Brenda: It takes a lot of bravery to be a writer. If your friends and family are telling you that your writing is good, then that means you’ve shared your words with them, which is incredibly brave. You’ve won half the battle! My advice to budding writers, and even seasoned ones, is to read everything you can get your hands on, especially works outside of your preferred genre. I write YA contemporary but much of my reading includes fantasy, literary, nonfiction, and thrillers. These books offer different perspectives, which can elevate your writing in ways you never imagined.

Lia: I love reading. I've always got a book in my hand. What are some books you love?

Brenda: At the moment, I am on a thriller kick. I can’t seem to gobble up enough mysteries and thrillers. Sadie by Courtney Summers was one of the most thrilling and heartbreaking books of 2018 for me. Also, I finished two Mary Kubica books recently that were equally amazing—Pretty Baby and When The Lights Go Out. Lately, though, I’ve revisited some old favorites like Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle. After binge-watching The Haunting of Hill House, I had to go back and re-read that one as well. I love that book. Up next is Karen McManusTwo Can Keep A Secret. If it’s anything like One of Us Is Lying, then I’m in for a real treat!


That wraps up today’s interview with Lia and Brenda, but don’t leave yet. We’re giving away a signed copy of Since We Last Spoke, and you can enter to win by clicking the picture below.

And if you’re a teen who’d like to interview an author for a future #BeyondTheBio, we’d love to make that happen. Just click here to learn how.

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