Saturday, May 12, 2012

Interview Week: Angie Smibert, Author of the Forgetting Curve

Welcome to Interview Week!
All this week, I'm interviewing awesome authors--and giving away a copy of their book! Come back each day this week for another author and another chance to win an awesome book.

Quick Stats on Today's Author:

We can read all about your life from your bio in the jacket flap of your book. So, what's a completely random fact about you that most people don't know?
I have a gray cat named Brick, which most people think is really strange. Even when I mention that the other cat is Maggie. (Bonus points if anyone can name the literary reference. Hint: think Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor.)

As a kid, what was your favorite book? Have your tastes changed since growing up?
I remember reading all the Walter Farley horse books—Black Stallion, Black Stallion Returns, etc. That may have been where I developed a love of a good series—or just a good author with a lot of books. My tastes may have changed in terms of what I read, but I still like to inhale a good series. (btw, right now, I’m reading Charlaine Harris’ latest Sookie Stackhouse book, Deadlocked. I think it’s the 12th in the series.)

Your most recent title, THE FORGETTING CURVE, is a sequel to your debut, MEMENTO NORA. How was writing a sequel different from writing the first book?
You’d think it would be easier. NOT.  First of all, the timeline was compressed. (See below.) Second, what I originally thought was going to happen (plot-wise) changed—for the better—but it was painful to let that initial idea go. It just didn’t move the series forward. Important lesson in sequels: you need to cover new ground.

It's the inevitable question: what inspired THE FORGETTING CURVE?
Originally, I’d envisioned Memento Nora as a stand-alone. The initial inspiration for the Forgetting Curve was something my editor asked when we were working on the first one. At the end, Nora’s mom spits out her pill and tells her what happened. Would Nora believe her? I realized then that the old Nora wouldn’t.  So I wrote a draft where Nora, Micah, and Winter try to rediscover some of what they learned in book 1. Like I said above, that didn’t work, but rethinking the premise of this book led me a new, better direction. Which is why I brought in Aiden.

One of the things that stood out to me in THE FORGETTING CURVE was the way the kids used art as aform of rebellion. Was there any specific artist or work of art that inspired this inclusion? 
In the first book, MEMENTO NORA, the kids create an underground comic. In the second one, someone in the community (no spoilers) has created an underground low-power FM station (MemeCast) to circulate news that isn’t otherwise available and to give people (kids mostly) a venue for self-expression. Velvet and the boys write and play music inspired by the MemeCast, and they (little spoiler) do get their music played on the ‘cast. 

One of the inspirations for the ‘cast was a low power FM station set up by hackers on the Gulf Coast after Katrina.  (I have a little more info and links on my book site:  Since all forms of communication—phones, radio, tv, cellphones-- were wiped out during the storm and for a long time afterwards, the station provided the community with information it needed. And the transmitter did fit in a lunchbox.

Can you tell us a little bit about the process--particularly the timeline--of writing & publishing THE FORGETTING CURVE?
I wrote a full draft of FC the summer before Memento Nora came out. However, that version was off the mark. (In other words, the publisher didn’t buy it—and rightly so.) Then I rethought it and wrote a proposal (outline and three chapters) for the new version, which they did buy early in Spring 2011. But, the kicker was that they wanted it for Spring 2012. That meant finishing it by Memorial Day so we could do edits and have it to copyediting by the end of the summer. So I was finishing the draft on the train to BEA that year.

If your reader could only take away one emotion, theme, or idea from THE FORGETTING CURVE, what would you want it to be?
Good question. Mike Mullin did a great review of the book (for theLeague) where he touched on some key underlying concepts. But, I think basically the idea is to not take anything on face value. Question authority, whoever that may be.

Beyond the typical--never give up, believe in yourself--what would be the single best advice you'd like to give another writer?
Buy a good chair. Seriously. My back is paying the price.

What do you think are your strongest and weakest points in writing?
Strongest: voice, conciseness, creative settings
Weakest: plot, underwriting

 And now for a giveaway! Leave a comment with your email address below to be entered to win a ARC copy of THE FORGETTING CURVE! One winner will be picked next Monday; sorry, but this needs to be North America only. 
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