Monday, May 25, 2015

Holley Noelle Robison, Author of "The Gift of a Friend."

the gift of a friend, sexual abuse novel, holley noelle robison, ya addiction, young adult alcohol addiction
Today we are interviewing Holley Noelle Robison, author of the teen fiction novel, "The Gift of a Friend."

Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Holley Noelle Robison. Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to be an author. It started with reading Harry Potter. I remember reading it and thinking, ‘Man, I want to do something like this.’ And that is what I decided to do.

Describe the plot of your new book in a few sentences.

Harper Elias is twelve years old when she becomes a famous popstar. While on tour, she ends up getting sexually abused by a family member. To help cope, Harper ends up getting heavily involved with drugs and alcohol. After almost dying from an overdose, her father pulls her away from that life. When she graduates High school, she goes back to Hollywood and has to navigate it while sober.

Who do you think would most appreciate this book?

I think the people who would most appreciate this book are survivors of sexual assault, which unfortunately is a lot of people. Anyone who has struggled through addiction would also appreciate this book. I know because I fall into both of those categories.

What inspired you to write a story about a young pop-star who has to negotiate fame, relationships, and drug/alcohol abuse? 

Well, like I said, I started writing this book when I was sixteen and was hiding my own abuse. I was sexually abused when I was 11/12 years old and I didn’t tell anyone until I was eighteen years old. The silence was almost unbearable. It almost killed me. I really want this book to become a voice to the voiceless, because that’s kind of what it was for me while I was writing it. I wasn’t able to speak publicly about my abuse until I was 21 years old. I don’t want anyone to go through what I had to go through. If I can inspire anyone to come clean of a secret that’s killing them inside, sexual abuse or something else, then I am happy.

Tell us a bit about the protagonist, Harper Elias.
Harper is a very loyal friend. She would die for her friends without a moment of hesitation. Despite her fame, I think she’s an average girl who just wants to prove herself to those around her that she loves.

In the story, Harper returns to Hollywood after graduation, despite having struggled there in the past. What draws her back?

Harper loves being onstage, she likes attention way too much to not be in Hollywood. She stays away until graduation because her father asked her to do so, and she felt like she owed it to him to do that.

Are there any authors who have influenced your writing style?
Well JK Rowling has influenced my entire writing career. But to help write this book, I looked through a lot of celebrity memoirs, especially those who have suffered through addiction or abuse. My favorites would have to be Jenny McCarthy, Micheal J. Fox, Rob Lowe, Portia De Rossi, Tina Fey, and Ellen Degeneres.

Who was your favorite character to write?
I loved writing Jack Elias, Harper’s father. I loved it because Jack is the father every girl wants in her life. He loves his daughter more than his own life. Even though he’s perfect in Harper’s eyes, he’s also a horribly flawed individual due to how he was raised in a devote Catholic household.

Is there any aspect of writing you don't like?
I don’t like starting out a story, and I don’t like ending it. The beginning of the story is what draws readers into it, and the ending is what leaves them satisfied. It’s very intimidating.

Have you ever had writer's block?

Yes I have. I just force myself through it. I usually stop working on what I’m writing, and go take a shower or work on another piece of writing. You have to force yourself through it, or you’ll never write again.

Do you write with a computer, typewriter, or pen and paper? Why do you use this tool?
I like pen and paper because it’s nice to feel the story coming to life. But the computer is convenient.

What do you have in mind for your next project?

A sequel entitled ‘The Gift of Forgiveness’

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?

I just hope that you like it. If anyone reading this is suffering in silence, please don’t let the silence kill you. Find someone to talk to. If you need someone, you can talk to me, I am willing to listen.

An excerpt from "Rise":
    I didn’t open my eyes when I regained consciousness; I just laid there listening to the sounds of what I assumed to be the hospital. I heard the sounds of the florescent lights, and the beeping of the heart monitors. I felt the monitor on my index finger, and the rest of the machines hooked up to my chest. I just sat there listening when I heard someone come into the room.
    “I don’t give a damn what those pathetic excuses for people want Elaine, I am not going to give them a statement,” My father said, anger was overflowing in his voice. This scared me, I’ve never heard my father even raise his voice at my mom.
    “But Jack, they are butchering our daughter out there!” My mother responded I had trouble reading her tone. It was a mixture of anger and worry.
    “Well Elaine, no matter what I say, they will find a way to make Harper out to be a bad person, but you weren’t there Elaine, she literally went psychotic when I touched her. She thought I was Kris, and that I was going to hurt her. I knew something else was going on, and believe me, once I know that Harper is going to be alright, I’m going to march down to Stephanie and Kris’s house and demand an explanation” My father snapped at her.
    I finally opened my eyes, and let out a low groan. I really just wanted them to stop fighting, and I definitely didn’t want to be the cause of their fight.
    “Daddy, what happened?” I groaned slowly trying to turn on my side, but gave up with all the chords attached to me.
    My father came up and sat down on the chair beside the bed. I realized that he was wearing his pajamas.
    “Harper, you overdosed on Vicodin, Alcohol, and heroin,” my father told me, it was then I realized that there were tears streaming down his face.
    I wanted to die at the sight of him. Through everything, my dad has always been there. Through Scarlett, through me partying and ending up in the hospital, he was there, and he’s never asked for anything in return. But through all of this, I’ve never seen him cry until this moment.
    “Harper, I am so sorry, I have been the worse father in the world, I shouldn’t have even let you start this whole Scarlett Valentine thing,” My father let out a sigh that made him seem like he was sixty years old.
    “Daddy No,” I choked back my own tears. Then I slowly brought my hand up and touched his face. “You’re the best dad a girl can ever ask for, please don’t say you’re a bad father,” I begged. “I’m the worse daughter in the whole world,” I added going into full blown tear mode, causing the monitors to go off.
    My father tried to give me a hug, but I quickly pushed them away, I hated it when people touched me. It reminded me too much of Uncle Kris.
    “I’m sorry,” I mumbled looking at his stunned face. “Daddy, you’re right, there is a reason why I use drugs and alcohol,” I nervously began. “Can I… Can I tell you why?” I blushed for how I asked him, like I was five.
    “Honey, you can tell your mother and I anything in the world, there is nothing that you could do that would make us hate you,” my father assured me, I could see that he desperately just wanted to understand the cause of my pain.
    “You don’t hate me for doing drugs, constantly partying, and not listening to a word you guys say?” I was feeling like I was three again, I hated myself, so why wouldn’t they?
    “No,” my mother and father said at the same time.
    “Daddy, I don’t want to say it,” I was feeling myself fighting back going into full blown tear mode again. “I don’t you to be mad and hate Aunt Stephanie,” I mumbled.
    My father got up beside me on the bed and cautiously put his arm around me. I was feeling so much anxiety that I was okay with his touch. “Honey, this is about you and me, and I can tell that whatever happened is killing you, and I really believe that if you just told someone what is going on, you would feel a million times better,” he whispered softly in my ear as he kissed my forehead.
    I looked up at my father. I felt like I was five once again, but this was the good moment. I found myself going back to the moment where I knew no matter what, I could trust my father with anything in the world.
    My father was right. The silence was deathly. But this confession might cause my father to lose the last member of his family that still talked to him. The voice of Uncle Kris began to flood in, and feelings of low self-worth followed.
    I didn’t want to hurt anyone, the news might cause my father to get angry and have a heart attack due to his bad heart. But I knew I couldn’t let my uncle win, he couldn’t control the rest of my life. I figured since I was worried my father would have a heart attack because of the news, the best place to tell him was in a hospital.   
    “Daddy, Uncle Kris has been raping me,” I blurted out before I had a chance to stop myself. I figured this was the only way I was going to get out what I needed to say.
    My father had a moment that was so typical: he paused in utter disbelief, as if he didn’t quite catch what I had said.
    “When did it start?” my father calmly asked, even though I can almost see the news weighing down on his shoulders.
    “About two weeks after the tour started,” I shortly answered. “Do you hate me daddy? Do you hate me for breaking my promise when I tried out for Scarlett?” I started to cry and my father only pulled me into a tighter hug.
    “Shhh! Don’t be silly honey,” My father soothed as he rocked me for comfort. “I meant what I said Harper, I will love you no matter what cause really, you are one of the few things in this world that I have gotten right,” my father whispered his voice always made me calmer. “I will help you get through this, you just have to let me carry some of the burden for you,” he added.
    “I don’t know if I can live through this daddy,” It was the first time I had admitted this fact to myself. I almost had daily thoughts of suicide.
    “Well, keep moving on until you prove yourself wrong,” My father suggested.
My father kept me pulled into a hug until the sounds of our breaths put me to sleep. He’s someone I will always love, was the last thought before I fell asleep.
More Information
Like Holley Noelle Robison on Facebook
Follow Holley Noelle Robison on Twitter
Buy "The Gift of a Friend" on Amazon

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