What was your inspiration for writing this book?
I went to military school on a dare, so it was always something I wanted to write about . When I was stuck in revisions for another book, I decided to play around with this idea--making the main character someone way stronger than me. I wanted to see how she would thrive.
How long did you work on the book?
I wrote the first draft of Rites in about six weeks. It went through one major revision before it sold to Harper, and then three more revisions after that, but the first draft came really quickly.
How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?
I wrote one book before I knew what I was doing. It's currently collecting cobwebs under my bed. The second book I wrote got me my agent, but didn't sell. It was during revisions for my third book (when I was stuck and didn't know how to fix something) that I decided to write something completely new--that was Rites.
What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?
When I'm writing a first draft, I listen to a lot of music. I love fast drafting while racing other people--I find nothing more motivational than trying to beat someone else's word count during a 30 minute or 1-hr sprint. I can usually write anywhere, but I tend to write in short bursts. I'll write for 30 minutes and then take a 5-10 minute Twitter break break, write 30 minutes, 15 minute break and so on. During those 30 minute sprints though, I can usually knock out 800-1200 words.
What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Write. Read. Revise. Repeat. Just never never never give up. It's a long, twisty road, but definitely worth it in the end!
What are you working on now?
I'm working on my second book for Harper Teen, The Harder You Fall, which takes place in the gritty world of mixed martial arts.
Rites of Passage
by Joy N. Hensley
Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she's not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.
So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She's even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won't risk her future, or the dare, on something so petty...no matter how much she wants him.
As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out.
At any cost.
Now time's running short. Sam must decide who she can trust...and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences.
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