Interview with Laurie Halse Anderson on SPEAK: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL

SPEAK hits on an all too true note, and now there will be a graphic novel for this compelling tale!

Laurie Halse Anderson astounded audiences with the realness of her novel, Speak. The book tells the story of the friendless Melinda and her life at Merryweather High. Melinda stays silent when horrible things happen for fear of becoming more of an outcast than before. After another terrible occurrence, Melinda refuses to stay silent, therefore speaking up for herself.

There will be a graphic novel for Speak, illustrated by Emily Carroll. Now this important story will be able to reach new audiences and make an impact on more lives. Speak, but will they listen?

Entertainment Weekly recently sat down with Anderson and had a talk about the upcoming graphic novel for Speak, which you can read below.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did the idea to re-release Speak as a graphic novel come together?
LAURIE HALSE ANDERSON: When the paperback rights to Speak reverted to Macmillan in 2011, I met with the good people there to chat about two projects that were close to my heart: partnering with RAINN to support sexual violence survivors, and creating a graphic novel version of the book. The Macmillan team was very supportive and made both dreams come to life!

How did Emily Carroll get involved? How did you two collaborate?
Emily was at the top of my wishlist of artists. Her technical skills are superb, and her ability to create tension is masterful. I am very grateful that she was able to make the time for the project. I wrote the script for the graphic novel in 2015, and Emily got to work. Our collaboration was coordination with our editor and art director. I finally got to meet Emily a few months ago — it was like meeting an old friend, in a strange way.

The new cover is gorgeous.
There was never any thought of replicating the original cover. The graphic novel stands on its own feet as a piece of art, therefore it deserved its own cover. It took my breath away.

What does the graphic novel format bring out in the story, thematically, that couldn’t be done in a standard novel?
It gives the readers more perspective on intensity of the emotion that Melinda is dealing with. The fear, the sorrow, the rage, and the triumph are visceral. The addition of the art turns a haunting melody into a resonating chord.


“Speak up for yourself–we want to know what you have to say.” From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless, outcast, because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. As time passes, she becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether. Only her art class offers any solace, and it is through her work on an art project that she is finally able to face what really happened at that terrible party: she was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her. Her healing process has just begun when she has another violent encounter with him. But this time Melinda fights back, refuses to be silent, and thereby achieves a measure of vindication. 

In Laurie Halse Anderson’s powerful novel, an utterly believable heroine with a bitterly ironic voice delivers a blow to the hypocritical world of high school. She speaks for many a disenfranchised teenager while demonstrating the importance of speaking up for oneself.

Speak: The Graphic Novel will be hitting bookshelves on February 6, 2018. You can pre-order a copy via Amazon.


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