Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Margo Rabb, Live!
Ok, that's a lie. But she was so kind as to stop by my little hobby of a blog on her Spectacular Blog Tour for her Shiny New Novel Cures for Heartbreak. In doing so, she has become My Very First Author Interview. Margo is obviously very brave as well as being a rather awesome author.
Mia is 15 when her mother dies. She doesn't quite know how to fit this fact into her life, but she does know that her life still marches forward. It's about life after death and the new perspective one gains. It's about moving on but not forgetting. Much of the story is based upon Margo's experience of losing her mother at a young age, and despite the somber inspiration, Cures is very much a novel sparkling with humor, wit and life. It is a novel in stories and each section stands alone as well as it seamlessly fits into the whole.
On to the interview!
So, have you got something against Precious Moments? I mean, I, personally, read Mia's hatred of the figurines you called 'Zingy-Dell' as a veiled guise of those creepy porcelain collectibles of my youth. Am I off base here?
I’ve always found Precious Moments to be pretty horrifying, but when I was writing that scene I googled “figurines” and apparently there are legions of figurine companies out there. We are living in a frighteningly figurine-filled world these days, I’m sorry to say.
Mia had a poster up in her room of Rob Lowe – with, I believe, lipstick kisses on his chest? May I say I laughed pretty hard at that? It was the kisses. I totally remember posters like that. Who was on your wall back in the day, and whom would you put up now, if you weren't, you know, an adult? Still Rob Lowe?
Embarrassingly enough, I did have a poster of Rob Lowe, and also ones of Chachi and Simon Le Bon which I’d torn out of Tiger Beat. If I had a poster now, it would be of Harry Connick, Jr., who I’d never been interested in until I saw him on Broadway in The Pajama Game. Not incidentally, he appeared in the last scene with his shirt off. Perhaps that explains why I saw that musical twice.
Mia's story is very subtly set in the past. I've noticed many a novel of late where, while set 10-30 years in the past, the time doesn't really affect much more than the details. What was behind your choice not to set this in present day?
It’s set in the past partly because I drew on my own memories to write it, and partly because I wanted the narrator to have a more introspective tone, with the subtext that she’s recalling the past. If I’d told the story in the present, I’m not sure that the introspective passages would’ve worked. Also, all the changes in technology like the internet and cell phones would’ve affected the way the characters interact and relate to each other.
Each chapter is preceded by quotes. How did you choose these?
I read the Jeanette Winterson quote “You don’t get over ‘it’ because it is the person you loved” a long time ago, and I thought of it often as I worked on Cures—I thought it embodied the book perfectly. Thinking of that quote often kept me going when I lost faith in whether I’d ever finish the novel; it reminded me of how poorly people understand grief, how they expect you to be over it so quickly. Most of the other quotes I picked up while reading, but for a few chapters I couldn’t find anything that quite fit, so I found quotes from The New Beacon Book of Quotations by Women.
I really admire the depth of emotion you explored in the novel. Mia is at turns angry, resentful and just completely floored by sorrow, yet still able to see the humor in life. I imagine that parts were incredibly difficult for you to write. So, rather than talk about the Kleenex moments, what were your favorite bits to write?
Those internal monologue sections are my favorite parts to write. When I write those parts a sort of otherworldly feeling seems to take over the writing process…it isn’t thinking, but an automatic state where the words flow out. For each passage that was in Mia’s head, I usually wrote a whole page or two and then trimmed it back to get one good paragraph. I also really enjoyed writing “The Healthy Heart”—the characters of Gigi and Sasha and the trip to Green Springs are so vivid to me.
This is clearly a very personal story for you, and you've received, by my count, four starred reviews for the book so far. That's pretty awesome, but how does it make you feel in regards to your next book? I'm assuming something here – will there be a next book? What's next?
I never take anything for granted as a writer. The publishing industry is tough, so I try to keep my expectations low. I just want to keep writing, and hopefully I’ll become a better writer with each book.
Do you remember your dreams? Are there any recurring dreams you'd like to share? Have you ever dreamt of the Abominable Snowman?
I’ve never dreamt of the Abominable Snowman, but I’ve repeatedly had a very strange dream about trying to insert giant contact lenses into my eyes. (Weirdly enough, my best friend has had the same contact lens dream too.) We have no idea how to interpret it, though.
So how happy is your sister that you included the afterword telling readers not to compare Mia's sister Alex to her?
She’s actually here visiting me right now, so I’ll let her respond:
“I am indeed happy that she included it, however I wish it didn’t include the painfully obvious sarcasm.”
My sister and I enjoy driving each other crazy. She found the whole scrotumgate news story amusing, so as I was writing my answers to another interview for this blog tour, she borrowed my computer and inserted the word “scrotum” into every one of my responses. Funny indeed.
What authors do you get overly excited about when they publish a new title?
Alice Munro, Margaret Atwood, Anne Tyler, William Trevor, Tobias Wolff, and Judy Blume. And J. K. Rowling, of course—I’ll be pushing those ten-year-olds out of the way so I can get my hands on Book 7.
If you were to pick one book you wish everyone would read, which book would you choose? At what age, or point of life, would you have them read it?
Anne Frank’s The Diary of A Young Girl. Her writing about her inner life—first love, her relationship with her parents, and humanity in general—resonated with me intensely when I read the book at twelve, fifteen, twenty-five, and thirty. She was a beautiful writer, and that book changed my life and made me want to be a writer.
For more Margo Rabb be sure to visit her website and MySpace page. You can also read her other stops on the Blog Tour:
3/19: Colleen Mondor at Chasing Ray
3/20: Lizzie Skurnick at theoldhag
3/21: Jen Robison at Jen’s book page
3/22: Betsy Bird at Fuse #8
3/23: Kelly Herold at Big A Little A
3/26: Liz Burns at A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy
3/28: Little Willow at bildungsroman
3/29: Leila Roy at Bookshelves of Doom
3/30: Mindy at propernoun
Thanks for stopping by, Margo, it was fun. If any other authors out there want me to pose slightly irreverent questions to them, I'm game!