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  • Written by Diana Peterfreund
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  • Written by Diana Peterfreund
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An Ivy League Novel

Written by Diana PeterfreundAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Diana Peterfreund

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List Price: $7.99

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On Sale: July 18, 2006
Pages: | ISBN: 978-0-440-33618-1
Published by : Delacorte Press Bantam Dell
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Fans of Beautiful Disaster will devour Diana Peterfreund’s Ivy League novels—Secret Society Girl, Under the Rose, Rites of Spring (Break), and Tap & Gown. At an elite university, Amy Haskel has been initiated into the country’s most notorious secret society. But in this power-hungry world where new blood is at the mercy of old money, hooking up with the wrong people could be fatal.
 
Eli University junior Amy Haskel never expected to be tapped into Rose & Grave. She isn’t rich, politically connected, or . . . well, male. So when Amy is one of the first female students to receive the distinctive black-lined invitation with the Rose & Grave seal, she’s blown away. Could they really mean her?
 
Whisked off into an elaborate initiation rite, Amy awakens the next day to a new reality and a whole new set of “friends”—from the gorgeous son of a conservative governor to an Afrocentric lesbian activist whose society name is Thorndike. And that’s when Amy starts to discover the truth about getting what you wish for. Because Rose & Grave is quickly taking her away from her familiar world of classes and keggers, fueling a feud and undermining a very promising friendship with benefits. And that’s before Amy finds out that her first duty as a member of Rose & Grave is to take on a conspiracy of money and power that could, quite possibly, ruin her whole life.


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt

Chapter 1


It all began on a day in late April of my junior year. I was in my dorm room, for once, trying to squeeze in a load of laundry between a tuna salad sandwich in the dining hall and my afternoon lecture on War and Peace, or as I like to think of it, WAP. (That’s not an acronym, by the way, but onomatopoeia. It’s the sound the hefty volume makes when I drop it on my desk.) Professor Muravcek’s* lectures tended toward the impenetrable side and I wanted to spend some time brushing up on my notes. I was tilting toward a B in that class, which was unacceptable if I wanted to graduate with honors in the major. However, it was either laundry or rushing out that night to buy a new package of underwear. You know you’re desperate when trekking downtown to GAP Body is easier than waiting for a free dryer.

But neither Tide nor Tolstoy was in the cards for me that afternoon. I’d just finished disentangling my disentangling my fuchsia lace thong (Friday night date panties) from the legs of my “going out jeans” and was on my way out the door with a load of darks when the phone rang.

Crap. It was probably my mom. She seemed to have a divine sense of when I’d be in my room.

I balanced the basket on my hip and picked up the phone. “Hello?”

“Amy Maureen Haskel?”

“You got her,” I said, shaking one of my balled-up gym socks free.

“Your presence is required at 750 College Street, room 400, at two o’clock this afternoon.”

Two o’clock was in fifteen minutes. “Who is this?”

“750 College Street, room 400. Two p.m.” And then the line went dead.

I plopped back onto the faded couch, strewing tank tops and pj bottoms across the floor. Talk about rotten timing. There was no question in my mind who it was on the other end of the phone. Quill & Ink was the “literary” senior society on campus, the usual refuge for scribblers of all varieties. It boasted several well-known writers amongst its alumni, and as the current editor-in-chief of the campus literary magazine, I knew I was a shoo-in, just like my predecessor Glenda Foster had been before me. That is, I would be if I made it to the afternoon’s impromptu interview.

I was going to have to have a long talk with Glenda. She was in the Russian Novel class, too, and knew I was struggling, yet still scheduled my society interview during lecture time!

Society interviews were always arranged on super-short notice. Part of the test was to see if you could get there. I hadn’t yet figured out what they did if the prospective tap didn’t answer her phone—if she was busy, for example, enduring both the crime and the punishment of Professor Muravcek’s soporific speaking voice.

Laundry all but forgotten, I hurried back into my room. Though the interview would be merely a formality, I fully intended to follow along with society pomp and circumstance and dress up. (Societies are all about the spectacle.) My suit was crammed in the back of my closet behind my ski jacket and the flared velvet getup I’d worn to February’s seventies-themed Boogie Night. I hadn’t worn my suit since January’s spate of internship interviews, during which I’d landed a posh (insert eye roll here) summer job xeroxing form rejections at Horton. It needed a good lint brushing, but otherwise, it was okay. I paired it with a fresh cotton shell, and went spelunking for a pair of panty hose sans runs. On the third dip into my underwear drawer, I found one. When, oh, when will I learn to throw away unusable nylons? (Not today, apparently.) I stuffed the other two pairs back in the drawer and wrestled the third onto my legs. I needed to shave, but the nylons would cover that.

In January, I’d gotten my light brown hair cut into one of those shoulder-length, multilayered bobs I was positive was the height of fashion for the Manhattan literati. (It wasn’t.) The downside of the cut was that, even with three months’ growth, it took twenty minutes with a blow dryer and a big round brush to make it look halfway decent. I didn’t have that kind of time right now, so I was relegated to ponytail-ville.

I slipped into my black pumps and clopped through my suite’s early Gothic—complete with lead-veined windows—common room. We have one of the sweetest setups in the whole residential college—two sizeable singles connected by a wood-lined common room that featured a non-working, but darn pretty, fireplace. Only downside is the slightly pockmarked hardwood floor. Have I mentioned how much I hate heels? The door to the suite opened before I could turn the knob. My suitemate and best friend, Lydia Travinecek, entered, balancing an armload of dusty library books, a travel mug of coffee, and her dry cleaning. Lydia is always more organized than I am. She has time for lunch, homework, and trouser pleats. It’s like she’s a lawyer already.

She looked me up and down. “Quill?”

I shrugged. “Who else?” Quill & Ink wasn’t a secret society in the traditional sense. Heck, they didn’t even have one of those giant stone tombs like the big societies used to hold their meetings—just a one-bedroom apartment above Starbucks. She nodded curtly, and flopped the dry-cleaning bags over the back of our couch. Two days ago, Lydia had hurried out of here in her own carefully pressed suit. “Good luck, not that you’ll need it. Hasn’t every Lit Mag editor gotten into Quill & Ink since, like, the Stone Age?”

Pretty much. I pushed back the tiny thread of annoyance that Lydia hadn’t yet told me what society had been courting her. It was silly; I knew that when Tap Night came around and she was picked by her society (whatever one it was), Lydia would drop the secrecy routine.

She took a paper sack out of her messenger bag and held up a bottle of Finlandia Mango in triumph. “Check it out. I thought we’d go tropical with our Gumdrop Drops tomorrow.” Gumdrop Drops had become a weekly ritual in our suite since Lydia turned twenty-one last August (I didn’t go legal until December). A bottle of vodka, two shot glasses, and a bag of Brach’s Spice Drops to use as chasers were all we needed for a party. I wondered briefly what would happen to the tradition once we were both in our respective societies and had other obligations on Thursday nights (all the secret societies meet on Thursdays and Sundays).

“Awesome! Can’t wait. Gotta run.” I waved good-bye and clopped out of the suite, down the stairs, and into the sunny April afternoon. Connecticut had finally decided to get with the program and realize it was spring.

I just knew Lydia would be tapped. She’d been vying for election into one of the more prestigious societies since the moment she’d stepped on campus as a freshman. She honestly felt that it was the only way to get anywhere at this school. I thought the attitude was a bit out-of-date, myself. This wasn’t the twenties, when you were tapped into a society straight out of graduating from Andover or one of the other elite prep schools, and every student on campus was white, male, and rich beyond the dreams of avarice.

In those days, failure to receive election into one of the big secret societies was tantamount to permanent social ostracizing. Forget the leather-furnished office on Wall Street, forget the vacation home in Newport. Your kids probably wouldn’t even get into Exeter!

But the world didn’t work like that anymore. Now most of the societies had diverse membership rosters that reflected a modern student body composed of kids from every walk of life. There was no doubt in my mind that come Tap Night, even without the benefit of blue blood, Lydia would be elected into one of the best societies on campus—Dragon’s Head, perhaps, or Book & Key. In fact, the only secret society I knew she would not get into was Rose & Grave, the oldest and most notorious society in the country. But that was because all the members—known as “Diggers”—were men.

As for me, I was joining Quill & Ink for the same reason that I did everything else—it would look good on my resume. I was already well acquainted with the other literary types on campus. They were all my nearest and dearest. We didn’t need the formality of a society like Quill & Ink to cement our bond. What we did need was the networking and resume puffing it would provide us. You know how it goes. If there’s an organization to head, an award to win, a connection to pursue–you’ve got to do it. Otherwise everyone would wonder why you didn’t, and your whole carefully constructed C.V. of success would topple like a ninety-eight pound freshman at a kegger. This was it, 750 College Street. And, according to my watch, I had a little over ninety seconds to make it into the room. And yet, when at last I arrived, slightly puffing, at the darkened classroom on the fourth floor, the first words out of the mouth of the person who laser-pointed me to my seat were: “You’re late.”

I looked at my watch again, though I couldn’t see the hands in the dark. “I—”

The shadowed man sitting at the nearest table pointed something at me that glowed with a green 2:01 in digital numbers.

“This is an atomic clock. You were forty-eight seconds late.”

“Are you joking?” I squinted, trying in vain to see his face through the gloom. Since all of our classrooms are equipped with motion-detecting lights, I was surprised that they managed to pull this off. They’d draped the windows with black hangings, and though each of the dozen people seated about the room appeared to have a book light in front of their place, the most I could make out was a jawline here, the curve of a nose there. Wow, they’d gone all out. Must be the writers’ creative juices at work.

“Are we joking, Ms. Haskel?” Shadow Guy #2 said with what I swear was a sneer. I didn’t even need to see it. “Do you believe there is anything about this process that is a joke?”

Not until now. But come on, what was this, Eyes Wide Shut? “No, sir.”

I strained my neck to see if I could recognize Glenda’s features amongst the group, but I couldn’t make her out. Where was she? Oh, let me guess. War and Peace. I was so going to swipe her lecture notes!

“Let me assure you, Ms. Haskel,” Shadow Guy #2 went on, “that we take our election procedure very seriously. Punctuality is of utmost importance to us. So is electing a person who can be trusted to obey the mandates of the society, no matter how minor they might seem.”

Whoa. So forty-eight seconds and I’d screwed the pooch? I sat up in my seat. “I understand that, sir, and can assure you that I will take my position in the society very seriously.” I paused, weighing the advisability of my next words. “I didn’t know I was supposed to invest in an atomic watch. Do I get one of those when I join?”

No answer.

I giggled nervously. “What about a grandfather clock? I heard every member of Rose & Grave gets one at graduation.” Quill, however, didn’t quite have the endowment for such lavish presents. Maybe they could swing a Timex.

Still nothing. Um, was this thing on? “Though I suppose that a grandfather clock would be hard to lug around.” Lame, lame, lame. “And probably not atomic.” Shut up, Amy. Man, I was crashing and burning here.

We sat in silence for a full ten seconds. And then someone three rows back spoke up. “Ms. Haskel, if you could answer a few questions for us.” I saw a shuffling of papers. “I have here your transcript. It states that sophomore year you received a B- in Dust Pages: Ethiopian Immigrant Narrative of the Mid-20th Century West.”

“Yes.”

“Do you have an explanation for that performance?”

Yeah, beware of classes bearing colons. In this case, the prof was a prick who thought that everything in the text that was even remotely cylindrical was some sort of phallic representation, and unless our term papers explored the ongoing problem of feminine penis envy, we’d completely missed the mark.

I think he had bedroom issues.

The B- was my single black mark in my English major, or would be as long as I kicked all 1,472 pages of WAP ass in my Russian Novel final.

“I’m more of a New Critic than a Freudian analyst,” I began, choosing the time-honored liberal arts tradition of obfuscation. If you can’t beat ’em, confuse ’em. “The signifiers of the primary texts in the class”—man, even I didn’t know what I was saying by this point—“lent themselves to readings more in keeping with the works of Said, Levi-Strauss, and . . .” Crap. I ran out of steam. Okay, pick an old standby. “. . . Aristotle’s theories as laid out in Poetics.”

Ha, question that! I was an English major. I could bullshit with the best of them.

The third-row shadow smiled, and I could see that someone had a very talented orthodontist. His choppers were as bright and even as a movie star’s. “Good answer.” Then he cleared his throat.

All the lights blinked on and off. Twice.

Shadow-Who-Smiles shuffled a few more papers. “Do you remember Beverly Campbell?”

“My third-grade teacher?” I’d had to think about that one for a minute. Glenda had not warned me of any of this. No doubt she was sitting pretty right now, taking notes about the bleak Siberian winter in her usual purple gel pen. And here I was, getting grilled by Quill & Ink for heaven knew what reason. Wasn’t I supposed to be a sure thing?

Furthermore, it was official: I didn’t recognize any of these people’s voices. Had they brought in alumni to conduct the interviews? “If we asked Beverly Campbell about you, what would she say?”

“That I was good with phonics.” Enough of this. “Come on, it was third grade.”

“What about Janine Harper?” Fourth grade. “Marilyn Mahan.” Fifth. “James Field, Tracy Cole, Debra Blumenthal.” Shadow-Who-Smiles proceeded to name every homeroom teacher I’d ever had. It was more than a little freaky.

“Can I ask you a question?” I said, interrupting his recitation in tenth grade.

“Go ahead.”

“Congressional confirmation hearings wouldn’t care this much about my early childhood. Why do you?”

Quill was a second-rate society at best, more concerned with getting its members into J-school than taking over the world—the reported purpose of real secret societies. What was up with the Da Vinci Code act?

Shadow Guy #2 spoke up. “What are your ambitions, Ms. Haskel?”

I kinda wanted to write the Great American Novel. But not even Quill & Ink would find that a satisfactory answer. Not goal-oriented enough. Not feasible. There aren’t enough Nobel Prizes in Literature to go around. Plus, I wasn’t sure I had any Great American Ideas. So, once again, with the fallback plan. “To be a media magnate.” There, that should hold them.

“You’re lying.” Shadow-Who-Smiles was no longer showing me his pearly whites.

“What makes you say that?” I folded my hands in my lap. And why did they care? I’d have bet each and every one of these people had a frustrated novelist buried deep inside. Shadow-Who-Smiles (though he wasn’t right now) picked up another piece of paper and began to read aloud. It was the first page of my unfinished novel—the one that no one but Lydia and I knew about. The one that existed only on my laptop’s hard drive, back in my room.

“Hey!” I shouted, and he stopped. “Where did you get that? Did you hack my computer or something?”

Everything got really quiet. I thought I could hear the atomic clock whirring away. Who were these people? “We have everything you’ve ever done, Ms. Haskel,” Shadow Guy #2 said. He lifted a manila envelope from the table in front of him. “This is your FBI file.”

My mouth dropped open. I have an FBI file? Why would I have an FBI file? I’d never done a summer internship at the White House or the Pentagon. My dad is an accountant, not a politician. I didn’t need security clearance. And even if I did, how the heck did these people get their hands on it? There was only one answer. They were playing me. I shook my head, leaned back in my chair, and laughed. “Right, my FBI file. The Federal Bureau of I-Don’t-Think-So. Look, I’m glad I’ve given you guys a good laugh, but since you aren’t the Men in Black, can we please get back to the interview now?” There was a long pause, then all the lights on the tables blinked again. This time, most of them blinked once, except for the one in front of Shadow-Who-Smiles.

“I think,” said Shadow Guy #2, “that the interview is over.”

“No!” said Shadow-Who-Smiles.

“She’s not what we’re looking for.”

“I don’t agree.”

Hold the phone. I sat forward. “Guys, I’m not quite clear what’s going on here. Where’s Glenda?”

Shadow Guy #2 tilted his head until I got a glimpse of pale cheekbone. “Glenda?”

“Yeah, Glenda. Glenda Foster, the old Lit Mag editor? The girl who is sponsoring me for this society? The girl who is too taken with Russian literature to show up this afternoon?” Again with the silence, though this one was punctuated with a few snickers. Finally, Shadow-Who-Smiles (and he was definitely doing it again!) spoke up. “Glenda Foster is not a member of this organization.”

Holy shitzu.

Who were these people?!?

Okay, to be fair, there was still one little corner in my mind that was shouting that Glenda had been lying to me all year, and that she wasn’t a member of Quill & Ink after all. But it was a pretty minuscule corner, the one where all of my most paranoid tendencies live. The rest of my head was busy spinning. I’d been taking this process rather lightly because, hey, it was Quill & Ink. Not a big deal, and I was a sure bet anyway. But they obviously weren’t Quill & Ink. I was out of my depth, for one of the first times in my life. And I didn’t have a clue what I was supposed to do.

“I think we’re done here,” Shadow Guy #2 said.

“No, we’re not,” insisted Shadow-Who-Smiles.

Shadow Guy #2 turned around and I caught a glimpse of perfectly shaved neck. “She’s not what we want. We have to be serious about this.”

“I can be serious!” I leaned forward and smacked my hand down on Shadow Guy #2’s notes. I saw his mouth drop open. Oops. “Sorry,” I said, sitting back and folding my hands demurely.

“I was a little—confused.”

“Clearly.”

“Can I ask who you people are?”

This time, they all laughed, before Shadow Guy #2 said, “No.”

“So you get a list of my middle-school study-hall proctors and I get squat?”

“That’s why we call it a secret society.” Shadow-Who-Smiles cleared his throat.

“Fair enough.”

Shadow-Who-Smiles flicked his light on and off a few times, and all the members began shuffling the papers on their desks. I wondered what the signal meant.

Okey-doke. I figured I’d humiliated myself enough for one afternoon. I rose from my seat. “Am I free to go?”

“One moment, Ms. Haskel.” Shadow-Who-Smiles put his hand out, and I was surprised that I could see it. Apparently, my eyes were adjusting to the dark. “Tell us. What do you have to offer this organization?”

I bit my tongue to keep from snapping back with, And what organization is that? Okay, so they weren’t Quill & Ink. Someone else was courting me, and I’d royally screwed up any chance I might have had to impress—whoever. The real question was, did I care? After all, this wasn’t my thing. Lydia was the one who wanted to get into a secret society—any prestigious secret society. I just wanted to be in Quill & Ink, so I could keep tabs on which literary agents were hiring assistants and whether or not Cosmopolitan needed interns. And finally, the absurdity of the whole situation hit me. All the juniors who, like me, had spent an hour in a darkened classroom, answering vague questions about their ambitions and accomplishments for a bunch of shadowy strangers—they hadn’t the foggiest clue to whom they were spilling their guts. Lydia, for all her secretive, superior smugness, didn’t know if she was being courted by Dragon’s Head or punk’d by a bunch of rowdy frat boys. And neither did I.

What did I have to offer this mysterious, unidentified organization? Aside from the finger, which I lifted, to little effect in the darkness.

I straightened my skirt, stuck out my chin, and laughed. “You already know what I have to offer. Straight As in the major, except for that little snafu with Ethiopian ImmigrantNarrative; the editorship of the Lit Magazine; participation and leadership in any number of other small campus publications; and thirty pages of a badly written novel. I don’t do drugs, I’ve never been arrested, and from what I hear, I’m not too shabby in bed. Not that any of you people will ever have the opportunity to discover that firsthand.” (Though, to be honest, I’d have no way of knowing, now would I?)

Then I turned on my heel and marched out. And as I exited into the hall, head held high, I thought I caught the flicker of a dozen tiny booklights.


From the Hardcover edition.
Diana Peterfreund|Author Q&A

About Diana Peterfreund

Diana Peterfreund - Secret Society Girl

Photo © Tara Kearney

Diana Peterfreund graduated from Yale University in 2001 with degrees in geology and literature. A former food critic, she now lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband and writes full-time.

Author Q&A

What inspired you to write a novel about secret societies?

One night last year, the movie The Skulls, with Joshua Jackson and Paul Walker, was on television. I remembered how, in college, my friends and I used to watch the movie and play a drinking game: take a drink every time something ridiculous happens in the film. At dinner that night, I told my boyfriend, “I’m going to write a book about secret societies the way they really are.” He said, “That would be boring.” And I said, “Not if I tell it.” I think the societies are a fascinating collegiate subculture, even without all the murder and mayhem injected into the experience by Hollywood. I tried to stay true to reality. My book constantly plays with the idea of the legend of secret societies — they control the world, etc. — versus the truth. Though my story is completely made up, everything in the book is something that really could happen.


Amy Haskel is a very smart, sassy, confident heroine who's not afraid to show off her intellect, which is very different from popular culture's current obsession with what Pink calls "Stupid Girls." Do you think smart girls get a bum rap in society?

Thank you for saying so! I didn’t set out to make a statement. Just wanted to tell a fun story with fun characters. As far as celebrity goes, I don’t think smart girls get a bum rap as much as I think the so-called “stupid girls” are given more credit than they deserve. But this style of celebrity has been around for millennia. I think sometimes we’re looking at a case of wily manipulation–women who choose (or allow their handlers to choose for them) to play the fool for marketing purposes. The problem comes in when you don’t know where the public persona of “clown” ends and real cluelessness takes over. However, I think “smart girl” celebrities are also valued. People aren't exactly dismissing women like Natalie Portman or Tina Fey. But in general, the qualities admired in celebrities are not necessarily their smarts.

I like Pink; I think she’s got moxie, and I agree with her that it’s too bad that we’ve let an admiration for a celebrity’s hair or clothing turn into an admiration for anything they choose to do.


Eli University, an Ivy League college in New Haven, CT, appears to be a thinly-disguised description of Yale University, your alma mater. How close is Eli to Yale and what's different? Is there a Tory's? A Lenny's Lunch?

Wow, how much room do you have? Writing about Eli University rather than Yale gave me a lot more freedom to change things to suit the story. There’s a buffer of fiction. It’s not “wrong” because it’s not Yale. Still, Eli is Yale in an alternate universe. Anyone familiar with Yale will recognize that they are almost identical, both physically and in terms of attitude. My make-believe Tory’s is very similar to a real New Haven institution called Mory’s where the student clubs meet to drink from silver trophy cups and sing songs. Lenny’s Lunch is very similar to one of my favorite New Haven restaurants, Louis’ Lunch. I had a lot of fun making up my “alternate universe” placenames and activities, and hope that the Yalies who read will pick up on the in-jokes.


We know that secret societies like Skull & Bones really exist, and that President Bush, John Kerry, and many other luminaries have been members. How similar are the real ones in comparison with the ones you created in The Secret Society Girl? How much research was involved in creating the society activities, ceremonies, and rituals in this novel?

The rituals and activities of Rose & Grave are inspired by things that happen within real secret societies. I wanted this story to have a very strong air of authenticity so I tried to include as many true details as possible, though I tried to use them as a jumping off point for the plot rather than just putting history or ceremonies in because they sounded cool. I always do my research at the same time as my plotting because they dovetail and help inspire new directions for each. Because the book is fiction, I also had the luxury of cherry picking my favorite details from various societies to make up Rose & Grave. I think the most enjoyable part was making up everyone’s society codenames, since the codenames are indicative of their real life personalities, but are often puns or names pulled out of literature or history.


Ambition plays a big role in The Secret Society Girl. Do you think college students these days are more or less ambitious than in previous generations? Do you think ambition helps or harms someone like Amy Haskel?

That’s a great question. I think that students are both more and less ambitious right now. College is a much more common option for this generation than for previous ones. So while college diplomas are increasingly becoming an employment prerequisite, there are also more people heading off to college without a clear plan of what to do with the degree they earn. There is a definite sense among recent graduates that their bachelor’s degrees are not going to open as many doors for them as they did for previous generations, and so they have to hustle a lot more if they ever hope to pay back those loans. Amy knows that the Eli name alone isn’t going to earn her a career. But what is? This is an ongoing conundrum for her.


At the beginning of each chapter, you include two lines that set the scene for the chapter (and sometimes sum up a characters feelings from the previous chapter.) What gave you the idea to include these?

One common secret society activity is the confession, or autobiography. Each society has its own name for it. (The “connubial bliss reports” — or “CBs” —of Rose & Grave are a similar ritual.) The concept for the book has always to structure it as Amy’s confession to an unknown audience. Is it to the society? To a barbarian confidante? To the public? I wanted to tell the story as if Amy was divulging everything that had happened to her after the fact. She speaks directly to the reader at several points in the story. The original title even had the word “confession” in it. Working from this premise, the chapters can be viewed as an elucidation of the confession at the beginning of each one. Plus, it looks pretty great.


In a similar vein, there are lots of little lists and multiple choice questions and even footnotes sprinkled throughout the book, like "Amy Haskel's Hit List" and "What I Learned that Night.” Did these come to you as you were writing the book or did you add them in later?

As I was writing them. They fit so perfectly with Amy’s character. I made some untraditional choices with the narrative, but I was trying to keep her voice as uncensored as possible. She’s a highly organized, analytical person who plans her life out in advance. Lists are her way to making sense of things, of keeping her life in control–or so she thinks.


The Secret Society Girl is the first book in a series. Did you set out to write a series or did it evolve into one naturally?


Almost immediately, I realized that this book had series potential. The characters have wonderful growth arcs, and there is the natural timeline of their college and society experience, from tap to patriarch.

What can readers expect from the next book?

In many ways, The Secret Society Girl is the story of an outsider. In the next book, Amy Haskel is an insider. She is a full-fledged Digger, charged with the responsibility of keeping a centuries-old tradition alive. What kind of caretaker will she be?

The second book is asking the question of what it means to be a Digger and who gets to decide that. Also, more adventure, more scandals, more football (it’s football season, after all) and more George. A lot more George.


You give writing workshops as well as work on your own novels. Tell the truth: is there any "do as I say but not as I do" aspect to your writing?

The things that I give writing workshops on are completely “practice what I preach.” But I also had an unusual path to publication, so there is an element of “I know this isn’t how it happened for me, but…” I sold my first novel on a partial manuscript, which is very rare for a first-time novelist. Now, a lot of aspiring writers asked me how to sell their partials at auction, like I did. There’s no answer to that. No trick. It just happened that way. I think that you try to write the best book possible, and position it as best you can. No shortcuts, no magic tricks, no secret handshakes.


From the Hardcover edition.


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