Guys, I'm insanely excited today because I get to participate in an incredible promotional tour for Daisy Whitney's stellar new young adult contemporary novel, When You Were Here, which releases tomorrow, June 4, from Little, Brown. In case you missed it, check out my review of this awesome book here.This was such an exceptional read for me and, as someone who has notoriously suffered from a general aversion to the contemporary genre, I think it's safe to say it means something when a book really makes me feel something. So, without further ado, please enjoy Daisy Whitney's awesome interview about the character of Holland, a complex, tricky and, ultimately, heart-winning character.
Q: Holland, though a secondary character, plays an extremely important role in Danny's emotional healing. How did you balance Danny's healing process with that of Holland's?
Her healing process comes in what’s unseen and what she’s gone through over the last year before the story starts. When we meet her, she’s already begun to heal and that’s why she’s able to reach out to Danny many times, even though he’s not ready for her for a long time. But they both need to restitch themselves from the past wounds if they have a chance of being together.
Q: When writing Holland's character, did you know immediately that you wanted her to be a driving force behind Danny's journey to find peace, or did that sort come about along the way?
I always intended When You Were Here as a story about the kind of once-in-a-lifetime love you can find when you’re a teenager, so yes, Holland was always part of the plan, and even though her character changed in revisions, my endgame for her was always the same. (Readers can find out what that endgame is!)
Q: Holland could easily have become a jaded shell of a character after the circumstances she has to endure. How did you manage to keep her relatable, sympathetic and every bit as worthwhile as the protagonist, Danny?
It wasn’t always easy! She was a bit of a flippant, flirty, cold-fish-hot-fish in the first draft! But by diving into the backstory of when they were first together and showing more of those scenes, I was able to get at the heart of her character and why she fell in love with Danny. But since Danny doesn’t always see what’s in front of him, she needs to try harder to connect with him and she does that by going to his house, by offering to cover for him if he wants to skip graduation, by bringing him Chinese takeout, by trying to tell him why she broke up with him (though he cuts her off), and by continuing to reach out while he is in Tokyo.
Q: Holland is actually a very brave and selfless character, but we don't immediately see these traits. What was the meaning behind leading us to believe one thing, then revealing more and more later?
Because that’s how Danny experiences her. Because the truth of why she left is explosive and has been hidden from him intentionally.
Q: Is Holland's persona based on someone in real life, or was she simply the perfect counterpart for our broken protagonist?
Holland started with an idea, an archetype - the girl next door that the boy is madly in love with. She was molded and sharpened from that clay, but at heart, she is the girl who has always cared for Danny ever since they were kids, and the girl who still cares for him.
And, for your viewing pleasure, here is a never-before-seen video of Daisy in Japan!