Monday, October 15, 2012

One Hell of a House: An interview with Debra Chapoton about her YA paranormal novel, Sheltered

1) Please tell us about your book.

Living together unsupervised, five troubled teens confront demonic forces and are compelled to deal with their problems in distinctly different ways.

High school junior, Ben, hacks into his step-father's real estate holdings and provides rooms in an old two-story house to various outcasts: the schizophrenic kid, the angry Goth girl, and the homeless girl who worships him. When Megan needs a place to live she comes to the rooming house with a different set of problems and the ability to confuse and attract Ben.

One by one strange and mysterious occurrences stretch the teens’ beliefs in the supernatural. How they deal with demons, real and imagined, has tragic as well as redeeming consequences.

2) Your book focuses om several different teens. Please tell us a bit about them.

Ben is cute, smart, industrious, and kind, but he lies a lot. He carries the burden of having an alcoholic mom and an oppressive step-father, but his heart is in the right place as he tries to help emancipated teens. Emily was living in a homeless shelter until Ben stepped in. She is very quiet, smart, and never seems to get that long hair out of her face as she tries to hide her troubles and her desire for Ben. Megan is polite, pretty, and vacillates between being strong-willed or caving to temptation. She harbors a secret that may ruin her chances with Ben. Cori is my favorite character because she was kicked out of her home for being incorrigible. Messy dyed black hair, lots of make-up, pierced ears and lip, and a tattoo on her back all hide the little girl inside. Cori uses foul language, exhibits a bad attitude and is a bitchy thief. She was as much fun to write about as Chuck and Adam, twins with a tragic past and future.

3) The haunted house is one of the oldest plots in horror, yet people keep coming back for more. What's the appeal in your opinion?

 Do I need to tell you how many times I’ve been alone at home and heard strange noises? I’ve walked around the house with various weapons, like a high heeled shoe or pair of scissors, checking behind doors and under beds. Aren’t we all afraid of the dark? Hmm?

4) Like I said, haunted houses aren't exactly a new idea. What distinguishes your story from others with a similar basic premise?

In Sheltered the house is not exactly “haunted” though there was a gruesome event in its history. There are no ghosts in this story, but worse than ghosts, there are demons, fallen angels who can posssess a person and make them exhibit great strength or manifest symptoms of epilepsy or bring them to the brink of suicide.

5) Your last novel, Edge of Escape, delved into the dark psychological corners of obsession, but there was nothing supernatural about it. Why did you choose to explore a different genre this time about?

I wanted to do something in the paranormal genre because it’s so popular and such fun to read. Despite the fact that an author can go absolutely as far as she wants, imaginatively speaking, I tried to keep the demon stuff within the parameters of actual Biblical accounts.

6) The YA commentariat has been abuzz in recent years with battles over the relative amount of dark material in YA books, including several very high profile editorials in the New York Times complaining about perceived excessive darkness in modern YA fiction. How do you feel about this entire controversy? Your book has more than a few dark themes and situations itself.

Give me a break, dark material has been around since Beowulf. That’s life – there’s good and evil. I’d be more concerned with books that go heavy on the evil and exclude redemption or triumph. All in all, though, I respect the debate and both sides have valid points, but there will always be disagreement on, well, on everything.

7) Please tell us briefly about your other projects.

Edge of Escape, my first YA novel, delves into obsession and fear. Emotionally impaired yet clever, Eddie obsesses over the most popular girl. He drugs her, abducts her and locks her away.
The Guardian’s Diary will probably be out next spring. It’s about a teen boy who was born with a gruesome deformity that causes him to drag his foot. He faces some tough challenges and dangerous decisions. The story is told through the eyes of his guardian angel.

Right now I am working on a young adult novel in which the teen characters maneuver through a supernatural world, yet there are neither angels nor demons in this story.

8) Do you have any links to any excerpts you'd like to share?

Here’s a link to a short excerpt from chapter 1 of Sheltered, which I posted on my blog:

Thanks, Debra.

If you'd like to see more from Debra or purchase Sheltered, please check out the following links:


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