Publish Date: March 8, 2013
The torture began in sixth grade. Hope should never have told the other kids in Opal Lake that she has weird dreams. Or that these dreams inspire her to invent objects that fly. Now in eighth grade, she’s the outsider nobody wants. Things get worse when Hope takes the top grade in science. She becomes a threat to eighth grade queen Caitlin Crawford and her privileged clique for the school’s highest award, the prestigious Sky Honors.
Caitlin preys on Hope’s loneliness and concocts a scheme. As Hope’s life spirals, the dreams won’t stop. Why does the girl in them look like a perfect version of her?
Perfection is the only way of life the Scions know. In Tavos, they exist in peace, traveling through the galaxies, creating planets and manipulating stars. The standard of achievement is nothing less than excellence. Until the hard voices awaken Dinah. Deep punches pierce her. And the desperate eyes pull at her insides. A mysterious force begins to crack the perfect equilibrium of their world. Neither King Aleph nor Dinah’s father gives her the answers she seeks. Who is the withering young female in those horrible visions? What does it mean to… suffer?
Dinah is bold enough to pursue her own truth. But is she strong enough to handle Hope’s?
Interview: Q. Please tell us about your current release.
I thought of the idea in 2007. What I noticed about most girls and women is that, in spite of how different we are, most of us share a quiet power inside of us that it takes a while to realize we have. Many girls and women downplay our talent, intellect and ambition, primarily as a result of how we are raised, or to fit in. We make decisions to please others, rather than pursuing unique and outstanding goals. We don’t want to be “too smart” or “too pretty” or we become a target. At 13 or 15, it’s hard to think “outside the box” when you’re stuck inside with everyone else—going to the same places, having the same conversations, seeing the same sights. How do you get out? Where’s the roadmap that teaches you how to break away and pursue who you want to be?
That’s where the concept for Hope Defined comes from. A girl, Hope, grows up in a poor community and lives the same as everyone else, not knowing that she has a whole other world inside of her. How does she tap into it? How does she make it come alive? How does she keep from losing it with everything going on around her? Hope thinks she’s weird because that’s what other kids tell her, but what if she is someone truly amazing, and the kids around her just don’t recognize it because they’re not used to amazing things? How will she ever know she is amazing, and not weird, when she’s stuck in the box?
The other world inside of Hope is Dinah. Dinah is to Hope what “Sasha Fierce” is to Beyonce. All of us have an alter ego- somebody we would rather be if we had a choice. Their life is way cooler, they look much better, and they have no fear of anything. Only difference here is that Dinah is real. With her own problems, her own relationships and complicated decisions she must make. Dinah endures all of this in another world, where Hope truly belongs.
Q. How did writing this book affect you?
This book is like my child; it would be six years old if it were a little person. Like a mother with a child, this book became more important to me than anything—a boyfriend, a job, a house. Every decision I’ve made over the last few years was based on what I needed so I could finish this book. I really needed to put this concept—of a smart black girl doing something phenomenal—out into the world. We don’t see enough of it. We see Hannah Montana, Harry Potter and the Incredibles, but how many heroes or heroines look like mine? I am very proud of that. Finishing it and then seeing it, has been absolutely liberating for me as a “mother”.
Q. Can you tell us about the journey that led you to writing?
I’ve been writing all of my life, since I was a little kid. I’m a pretty deep, reflective person and writing is a way for me to get out some of my own hopes for the future, frustrations with life, and observations of people and the world. So I started with what was familiar to me, my own personal story of struggle, desire, ambition, and often, setbacks. But a lot of people write about sadness and struggle, so I gave it a unique, otherworldly twist – the girl who is struggling is connected to another universe. Now it’s not so sad anymore, but mysterious and intriguing, with a whole other realm of possibility to offer kids who truly are struggling in some way.
That was how I moved away from my own childhood circumstances—I kept believing there was another, greater me waiting out there somewhere and I had to go find her. I want to give that same hope to kids now who need something to hold on to, just as I did.
Q. What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Having the time and energy after working all day. All kinds of ideas bubble up in my head all the time—while I’m driving, in the shower, right before I go to sleep—but my day job is really grueling. So I’m too exhausted at times to relax mentally without falling asleep. A lot of working adults find it hard to have the energy or time (or discipline) to write. That’s why you should do it as young as possible!
Q. Do you have a musical playlist you listen to while writing? If so, what kind of music?
HANS ZIMMER! I have just about everything he’s done, and I’ve listened to all of it at least twenty times. I love movie music because it sets the tone in my head, and becomes my soundtrack. Other movie composers I enjoy are John Powell, who did the Bourne Identity series, Michael Giacchino, who did the new Star Trek, and Steve Joblesky, who is Hans Zimmer’s protégé and does Transformers. There have also been a few times when I popped in some Jay-Z, for the rougher parts of the story, when I really wanted to get my head into that “street” mindset. But for the most part it’s soundtracks with no words when I’m writing.
Q. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I have written on my laptop in bars. Yep. I have taken my computer to TGIFriday’s, opened it up and started writing, while people around me are buying drinks and yelling at the television about the game. I have also taken my laptop to fine restaurants and written at a table by myself.
Q. Do you plan any subsequent books?
Absolutely. Because my schedule for the next couple of years is going to be crazy with law practice, I’m aiming to get book 2 of Hope & Dinah written this summer, and completed by November for the holidays. And then I would go on hiatus for the next two years because of my duties in Black Women Lawyers of Los Angeles. Now can I actually finish a book in months when the first one took years? I don’t know!
But yes, Hope & Dinah will be seven books. There will also be Glories of the Snow – about a female secret society that oversees the world balance of power, and I can’t wait to publish that. It’s very different from what I’m doing now and a lot of fun!
Q. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
George Orwell. I remember when I was a kid, I think I read Animal Farm in one day. I got it. Even back then at such a young age. His work is so futuristic, yet so telling about man’s faults at any period of time—be it the founding of America, the Industrial Revolution, the Technology age. It doesn’t matter what era we’re in. Always plaguing us is our tendency to break into groups and have one group rise to oppress the others, and then engage in meaningless wars that are fleeting and hold no importance later. Orwell’s work so hauntingly points out the many motes in mankind’s eye.
Q. Please tell us your latest news (book-related or not!).
Last week I learned I was slated to become President-Elect of Black Women Lawyers of Los Angeles. The nominating committee has nominated me, and pretty soon, hopefully the rest of the organization will approve the nomination. It’s a pretty big job and I’m thrilled to do some good things in Los Angeles.
Q. Please tell us a fun-fact about yourself!
I am very flexible and can do the splits all three ways! I love yoga as a way to relax.
Q. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope that the message and characters behind Hope Defined pull you in and speak to you as they did me in creating and developing them.
Ms. Humphrey is offering one (1) e-copy of Hope Defined for giveaway!
To enter: please leave a comment with your email address. The winner will be chosen at random once the giveaway ends June 15, 2013.
Thanks and good luck!