Bri Marino is the author of Somewhere Only We Know. Bri obtained a B.A. in English with a concentration in Creative Writing and minor in Women’s Studies from Wright State University. She lives in Dayton, Ohio with her husband, Jacob, and their dog, Molly.
Today we’re sitting down with Bri Marino, whose debut book, Somewhere Only We Know, was released by GenZ Publishing in November 2016.
How would you classify the genre of Somewhere Only We Know?
It’s a contemporary, young adult novel handling topics like psychological trauma, abuse, and faith.
What books or authors would you say “it’s for fans of…”?
Fans of Laurie Halse Anderson would definitely enjoy Somewhere Only We Know. I was inspired by her novels Speak, Wintergirls, and The Impossible Knife of Memory when I was working on my book. I love how Anderson uses strong and compelling voices to write about difficult topics, and I tried to create Frankie’s voice in the same manner. I also used a quote from Speak as my book’s epigraph.
Can you describe what the story/book is about in one sentence for our readers?
Four girls who experience different kinds of abuse come together to try to find the hope and healing they’ve been looking for.
That sound really intense. For a book like this that is very heavy, did you have any inspiration grounded in reality?
I took an introductory women’s studies class during my freshman year of college and learned what a pervasive issue violence against women is. I went on to minor in women’s studies and did a lot of research on the topic for my classes. With Somewhere Only We Know, I wanted to write a book that could inspire young girls and bring them hope.
Jumping off of that, what type of research did you do? And did it take a while?
I used the basis of research from my time in college combined with a nightmare I had to create the main storyline of the book. I read several books on child abuse to narrow down the specifics and get ideas on how girls the ages of my characters would react to their situations. I also read as many novels on abuse that I could to see how those authors handled the topic. After doing all this, and because I was so passionate about the topic, the actual writing of the book only took me three months.
As your first book, I’m sure it must have been a constant learning process. What were the biggest surprises or learning experiences you faced throughout the entire publishing process?
I’m a really introverted person, so learning how to market my book has been a huge learning experience that was way outside my comfort zone when I started.
Would you have done anything differently (either in the writing process or in the story itself) if you could do it again?
I’m really happy with how my book turned out, so I don’t think I’d change anything.
Behind most great authors are…other great authors. Who is your favorite author?
I really like Laurie Halse Anderson, Neal Shusterman, Kiera Cass, and Kathryn Holmes.
I’ve read multiple books by all of these authors, and what I love about them is their strong voices. All four of these authors have created books that completely pull me in with their unique characters and stories. I could discuss what I love about their books all day.
Some people like to listen to music while reading. Is there any music you think would accompany your book well?
The title of my book comes from Keane’s “Somewhere Only We Know.” I love how the song makes me feel about going back to a familiar place where you could connect with someone.
In my novel, Frankie and her friends go back to the place where they used to play together when they were younger–a peaceful tree in a clearing in the woods–so that they can try to once again connect with each other.
I also listen to contemporary Christian music while I write. I love how many of the songs are about finding healing and hope after going through difficult situations, which was one of the main themes of my book.
Somewhere Only We Know deals pretty heavily with violent topics. Was is hard writing a book like that, whose main character is only twelve?
This was definitely a hard book to write. Many times I sat at my computer only to break down in tears at what Frankie, the narrator, was going through. At times I wanted to give up because the story made me so sad.
But I had to remind myself why I was writing this. Abuse is an all-too-prevalent problem in our world, and many young girls just like Frankie experience it. I wanted to give people a story in which victims of abuse try to find hope and healing, so that my readers can try to find the same hope and healing in their own lives, no matter what they’re going through. And my passion for this is what kept me going even through the tears.
In the book, you use capitalization in an interesting way. Could you explain that without giving anything away?
When I first started writing the book, without even making the conscious decision to do it, I made all of Frankie’s pronouns lowercase and all of her father’s (her abuser’s) uppercase. When she refers to herself in lowercase pronouns, Frankie shows the readers how she feels powerless in her situation. And when she constantly refers to her father with uppercase pronouns, readers can feel just how big and scary he is to her. I love how the capitalization makes you read the book because it really allows you to get in Frankie’s head and see things from her perspective.
Can you narrow down a big “so what” of the book, a takeaway for readers, in a few sentences?
As a result of the violence in their lives, all four girls in Somewhere Only We Know have fallen into varying degrees of silence about what they’ve gone through, with one of the girls even unable to speak altogether. However, it is through writing and stories that the girls start to find a way to communicate and find hope again. Frankie, the narrator, and Lindsey, the one who doesn’t speak, read many books throughout the course of Somewhere Only We Know, and they learn how to use writing as a way to see other possibilities for their lives.
The one thing I wanted readers to remember when they finished reading the book is that their story isn’t over yet. No matter you’ve gone through—whether it’s abuse like the girls in my book, or any other difficult situation like depression or an eating disorder—you can change. You can find hope again. You can overcome whatever it is you’ve gone through. You get to decide how the story ends. You get to write a new story.
For a topic like sexual abuse, it’s obviously very important to promote education and prevention measures. Are there any charities you support related to this?
Yes, ever since Somewhere Only We Know was published I had been trying to think of a way I could help spread the message of hope that the book offers and maybe raise some money for organizations that help victims of abuse. Then I found these really cute charms that say “hope” on them, and I decided to combine my other passion of jewelry-making with my writing to make and sell Hope Bracelets.
All of the bracelets are green to tie in with the nature elements of Somewhere Only We Know. Each bracelet is handmade and one-of-a-kind. I sell them locally and donate a portion of the proceeds to a local domestic violence shelter.
If readers want to know more, is there some place they can follow you?
On my website, I have behind-the-scenes posts for my novel, and I talk about details like the inspiration, setting, and cover. I also am always updating my blog with posts about my writing life and book reviews.
What’s next for you?
I’m in the early stages of working on another contemporary young adult novel and also a young adult dystopian novel.
You can find Bri Marino at the following places: