Friday, March 2, 2018

0 Brenda Rufener, author of WHERE I LIVE, on diving in with your whole heart

We're delighted to have Brenda Rufener join us to share more about her debut novel, WHERE I LIVE.

Brenda, what was your inspiration for writing WHERE I LIVE?

The character of Linden Rose is partly inspired by an amazing group of young women I spent time with in college. I volunteered with a literacy program and worked with young women facing adverse circumstances, many of them homeless. These women were unwilling to give up, even in the face of incredible adversity, and I was drawn to their persistence and positivity. How I wished teen-me had known these faces when I went through a similar situation–I would not have felt so alone. Their strength and determination was admirable. They were homeless but never hopeless.

What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?

In writing Where I Live, my biggest influences were my favorite YA authors like Jennifer Niven, Rainbow Rowell, Kathleen Glasgow, Kerry Kletter, and Amber Smith. Books like All The Bright Places and Girl In Pieces inspired me to tackle tough topics with sensitivity and bravery. Without these brilliant YA authors before me, Where I Live would not have been possible.

What do you hope readers will take away from WHERE I LIVE?

When writing this novel, I wanted to explore homelessness without Linden’s crisis being the only focus. Linden is a homeless teen, but like all homeless teens, she’s much more than her circumstance. Linden is navigating high school relationships, bullies, friendships, and a first love. She’s more than her homeless experience and I hope readers see her as the complex, vulnerable, and brave young woman she is.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Your voice matters. Always, but especially now. Throughout the novel, Linden struggles to find her voice, and as aspiring writers, I think we all struggle with the same. So my advice is to dive into your creative work with your whole heart, and keep pushing. There will be many opportunities to quit, but push, dig, and move forward. Let your favorite books inspire you, especially when you feel stuck.

What are you working on now?

I have a second young adult novel, entitled Since We Last Spoke, slated for April 2019 with HarperTeen that I’m very excited about. You’ll meet Aggi and Max, two teens torn apart by unimaginable pain and guilt over the loss of their siblings. The story is told in dual points of view and focuses on a love that’s desperately trying to survive, in spite of everything coming against it. This story delves into the different layers of grief and how pain impacts two families that once loved each other but now point fingers of blame.


Where I Live
by Brenda Rufener
Released 2/27/2018

Linden Rose has a big secret--she is homeless and living in the halls of her small-town high school. Her position as school blog editor, her best friends, Ham and Seung, and the promise of a future far away are what keep Linden under the radar and moving forward.

But when cool-girl Bea comes to school with a bloody lip, the damage hits too close to home. Linden begins looking at Bea's life, and soon her investigation prompts people to pay more attention. And attention is the last thing she needs.

Linden knows the only way to put a stop to the violence is to tell Bea's story and come to terms with her own painful past. Even if that means breaking her rules for survival and jeopardizing the secrets she's worked so hard to keep.

Purchase Where I Live at Amazon
Purchase Where I Live at IndieBound
View Where I Live on Goodreads


Brenda Rufener is a technical writer turned novelist. She is the author of Where I Live, which School Library Journal called a “new and forthcoming YA to have on your radar,” Bustle and Barnes & Noble Teen Blog named a most anticipated YA contemporary book hitting shelves in 2018, and Booklist called “a well-rounded picture of a teen who’s more than her crisis.” Her next young adult novel, Since We Last Spoke, is slated for April 2019. Brenda lives in Durham, North Carolina with her family. You can find her online at


Have you had a chance to read WHERE I LIVE yet? When you're tempted to quit, do you push, dig, and move forward? What are favorite books that inspire you when you're stuck? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

Jocelyn, Halli, Martina, Anisaa, Erin, Susan, Shelly, Charlotte, Kelly, Laura, Emily, and Lori Ann

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