Today, we are SO excited to bring you our exclusive Q&A with The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer author Michelle Hodkin. Not only do we think Michelle and her book are pretty swell — but, well, Michelle was totally game for our semi-neurotic, slightly crazy questions. Which we like. It means she is a kindred spirit.
So without further ado … bring on the crazy:
So. Your ending. Holy crap! What happens next? Please explain, in detail. Feel free to share your response in the form of a novel. No? That won’t happen? Okay, how about this question: without giving too much away, did you always plan to have the twist at the end?
Here’s a secret: not being able to share Book 2 with you is probably harder for me than anyone else! I can’t WAIT until it’s out in the world. As for the ending, I didn’t always plan on ending the book with THAT particular twist; I planned on a different one. The current twist was planned for later in series, and the “original” twist has now been moved back to later in the series. I hope you all like it 🙂
In the “story behind Mara Dyer” letter that came with my ARC, you talk about a real life situation that inspired the book, and mysterious letters and packages you’ve been receiving. How much of what you wrote in MARA DYER is based on fact? Where does the line get blurred?
I’ve been wondering how many people have read that letter (and for those who haven’t, it will be posted on www.maradyer.com when the site goes live).
I grounded the story as much in reality as I could. I used real locations. The building that collapses in the book actually exists. The photographs of it were actually sent to me. I fictionalized the town of Laurelton (and the name of the building) for legal reasons. Mabel is a real dog and Mara Dyer really was inspired by a real girl.
When I wrote the book, I wanted everything that happened in it to feel like it could be possible. So I wove truth in with the fiction, and if I told you exactly where the lines blurred, it wouldn’t be as fun 🙂
I’m so glad it rang true for you. As a lawyer, I worked with victims of terrorism and interacted on a daily basis with people who suffered from PTSD, so after learning from hundreds of different people what it was like to live with, I probably subconsciously infused Mara’s experience with what I learned.
But truthfully, most of the research I did wasn’t medically or psychologically related. Example: I went to a shooting range to fire a Glock 40 caliber uncompensated pistol to understand what that would feel like. Also, a great friend of mine took me to visit botanicas in Little Havana to see first-hand what they were like. We were chased out of one, actually, which was kind of scary. We went back to find it the next day, but we couldn’t. That might sound familiar to those of you who have read the book …
Mara struggles to know if she’s behind a series of very violent events — and even questions her own self throughout the novel. What was it like getting inside her head, and writing from the perspective of someone who may or may not be a good person?
This is an awesome question. Once I got out of my own way and stopped trying to write the way I thought writers should write, I slipped into her voice very naturally. And the truth is that, writing from her unique point-of-view wasn’t too hard. I used to have to slip into and out of different perspectives when I wrote briefs as an attorney; I had to anticipate what objections a judge would raise to a legal argument or how the opposing side would view one of my claims. In that sense, it was easy to write from Mara’s perspective, even when I was aware (as the writer) that what she says or believes isn’t accurate in the context of the story.
And now … Noah. Mmmm, NOAH. Who/what was the inspiration? Feel free to embellish this response with vivid, detailed descriptions of said inspiration. Photographic examples are also welcome. 🙂
For me, the characters came before the plot, so once I realized what kind of character Mara was going to be, I knew who Noah had to be. And everything I write about tends to be inspired by something real, so take that as you will 🙂
And now for the flash questions:
If they made a Michelle Hodkin candle, what would it smell like?
Ivy Leaves, Aniseed, Amarena Heart, Violets, Iris Roots, Vetiver, Tonka Bean, Vanilla, and Musk. PS: I totally cheated and pasted in the ingredients of the only perfume I’ve ever worn because I have no idea. I don’t even know what vetiver is.
BONUS question for you: If they made a Mara Dyer candle, what would it smell like?
Something dark and spicy, like cloves.
David the Gnome
Chocolate or vanilla?
Chocolate. There is no other acceptable answer.
Your personal theme song?
For What It’s Worth by Buffalo Springfield
You’re on a deserted island and have to read one book for the rest of your life. What is it?
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.
Favorite book as a child?
The Joss Bird by Sarah Garland
I can usually identify non-leading actors from random movies by their voices. Useful, I know.
Many, many thanks to Michelle for playing along with our special brand of crazy, and to Chrissy at S&S for (as always) being a rockstar to work with and arranging this interview!