YEM Author Interview: Suzanne Young chats about her inspiration for In Nightfall

Suzanne Young is the author of In Nightfall. In Nightfall follows Theo and her brother, Marco, who get punished and have to leave Arizona to spend the summer with their grandmother in the rainy beachside town of Nightfall, Oregon. The novel explores coming of age, friendship and much more. YEM was able to speak with Suzanne about her inspiration for In Nightfall. She also speaks about her writing process, and which character she felt was the most fun to write.

Young Entertainment Mag: When did you first know that you wanted to be an author?

Suzanne Young: I started writing murder mysteries when I was in middle school. Listen, these were not great stories, but wow—did I fall in love in writing. The first time I told someone I planned to be a writer, I was in high school, and to be honest, they laughed. But I ended up studying creative writing in college and then moved to Arizona and became an English teacher. I never stopped creating stories, though.

It was a decade later when I finished my first full novel, and then four novels after that, my first book published.

YEM: Where did the inspiration for In Nightfall come from?

Suzanne: I’ve been writing on heavy topics for years now, but when I came up with the idea for In Nightfall, I really wanted to create something fun—which to me would also be a little scary. Initially, I really wanted to explore a gender-bent The Lost Boys vampire story, with the vampires in question being vicious teenage girls. As I wrote the book, the story of the family really began to take shape and I found my true inspiration in the relationships between them.

YEM: Is any part of In Nightfall inspired by your life?

Suzanne: Dealing with divorced parents is never easy, especially in my situation. I brought a little of those feelings into the characters’ emotional state, but nothing directly ties to my life. Except for Nonna, who was originally modeled after my own beloved grandmother.

YEM: What was the writing process for In Nightfall like?

Suzanne: I started out with the idea of teen girl vampires running a small coastal town. I even found some inspirational photos, found a few songs. And then, I decided on my main characters and built out from there. As the story filled in, I knew an important glue to hold it all together was going to be the town of Nightfall itself. So I spent quite a while, a few drafts, making the town as real and mysterious as possible.

YEM: Which character did you feel was the most fun to write?

Suzanne: I loved writing the sister-brother dynamic of Theo and Marco. It was the kind of relationship where “I can make fun of my sibling but no one else better even try.” Their insults and care came in equal measure, and it felt very real to me. And of course, I loved every moment spent writing Nonna.

YEM: What made you decide to have specifically Arizona and Oregon as the two states in your book?

Suzanne: I’ve lived in Arizona for decades, and to be honest, we love the sun here. Who better to hate the rainy weather than a couple of siblings used to this insistent sunshine? It helped to make them feel more out of their element, more alone, more susceptible to the loneliness that was already haunting them.

Although the story takes place in the fictional Nightfall, Oregon—it was originally set in Astoria, Oregon. I’ve spent quite a bit of time there when I lived in Portland, and I knew it would make a fantastic setting for a bunch of beach vampires. Eventually I needed to add more into the town history, so I created a fictional place, but it was always Oregon.

YEM: What was something you learned about yourself during the process of writing In Nightfall?

Suzanne: It wasn’t something new, but I really missed my grandmother while writing this book. Although Nonna was inspired by her, it was nice that Nonna began to take on a life of her own in the story and filled in that hole of grief in my chest. I also learned that I maybe still have some of my own emotional scars that I never quite dealt with, and it helped to heal them in a book, even if not in real life.

YEM: What is some advice for someone who wants to be a writer one day?

Suzanne: I know this is said often, but write and read everything. It’s a different journey for everyone, but for me, I never stopped writing. I’ve published over 20 novels, but there are so many that never got published. And yet, I learn from every book I write, even the ones that don’t make it. So write and read everything.

YEM: What is something you hope your readers take away from reading In Nightfall?

Suzanne: One element of this book I love is the compassion that Nonna shows at the end, the idea that we can protect other girls even if they’re not our family or our best friends. We should stand up for each other, look out for each other. It’s the right thing to do, even if it’s not easy.

YEM: What do you enjoy most about writing for a young adult audience?

Suzanne: I really love writing about impactful moments. For example, in this book I talk about divorce. Truth is, dealing with your parents’ divorce at 17 feels a lot different from dealing with it at 37. And I think touching on moments like that helps others feel less alone and more understood.

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