Ask the Author: Brenda Rufener


Author/Illustrator: Brenda Rufener 

Release Date: April 2, 2019 

Publisher: HarperTeen/HarperCollins 

ISBN-10: 0062571087 

ISBN-13:       978-0062571083 

Genre: Contemporary  

Age Range: Grade 9+ 


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What would you like readers to know about you? 

Hello Maddie! Thank you so much for having me. My name is Brenda Rufener and I am the author of two young adult novels, Since We Last Spoke and Where I Live. Both books are out now from Harper Teen. When not writing, I enjoy hiking the woods of North Carolina and spending time with my family and Boston Terrier, Molly.  


What is SINCE WE LAST SPOKE about for those who haven’t read it? 

When Aggi Frank and Max Granger finally admitted their feelings for each other last December, it felt like love was beautiful and endless . . . until it wasn’t. 

A fatal car accident involving their older siblings throws their lives into sudden chaos. And with a restraining order now in place between the two bitter households, Aggi and Max’s love runs cold. Being together again seems like a distant fantasy, even though they share the same driveway. 

Still, Plum Lake is a small town, and staying apart can’t last forever. Aggi and Max eventually reunite at a lake-house party and break the ice after a year of silence. 

But just as they begin to rebuild their relationship, the unthinkable happens, leading them to confront each other and their families in the hope of mending the broken pieces. 

Perfect for fans of Jennifer Niven and Nicola Yoon, this heartbreaking and uplifting novel captures the ups and downs of teen love in the face of unimaginable grief and the rocky journey to healing, peace, and forgiveness.  

What was your inspiration for writing SINCE WE LAST SPOKE? 

Love was definitely the inspiration behind Since We Last Spoke. Where that came from could be a number of places, as I am so grateful for the people I get to share this life with. But during the actual writing process, I lost three of my grandparents. The grief Aggi and Max experience through the story hit close to home. 

Who is your favorite character in the book? 

Though I adore Aggi and Max, I always fall hard and fast for secondary characters. Henry and Umé are my favorites in this book. They are the perfect friends for Aggi and Max. They offer exactly what their best friend needs at the right time, though Aggi and Max may not always agree with what their friends are up to. Umé is strong, funny, and a loving friend, while Henry is a soft boy in search of love and acceptance. They are the glue that holds together what’s left of a broken relationship. We all need friends like Henry and Umé.  

What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
Growing up, I read a lot of Judy Blume books, such as Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret and Forever. She never shied away from tough or “taboo” topics. Looking back on my childhood, I see how she inspired me as an author to be brave when I sit down to write. During my college years, I gobbled up poetry by Sylvia Plath and short stories by Shirley Jackson. In the classroom, I read all the crusty classics written by white males, so to get my hands on Toni Morrison’s works, Plath’s poetry, and Jackson’s short stories was a real treat.  

What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book? 

My advice to aspiring authors, and even seasoned ones, is to read everything you can get your hands on. Read books outside the genre you want to write. When I wrote my first two young adult contemporaries, I read a lot of fantasy, literary, nonfiction, and thrillers. Books outside your preferred genre offer different perspectives, which can elevate your writing in ways you never imagined. 

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