Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Interview: Angie Smibert author of Memento Nora

Memento Nora is the debut dystopian novel by Angie Smibert. I was lucky enough to receive a copy for review. If you missed my review, you can read it here.

I am thrilled to have Angie here at Actin' Up with Books to answer my questions about Memento Nora, her writing habits and some thoughts on books.

Welcome Angie!

About your book:

What was your inspiration for Memento Nora?
I was reading some current research in the area of post-traumatic stress disorder. (Yes, I'm a geek.) Scientists are looking at medications that could help break the stranglehold that traumatic memories have on PTSD sufferers. So I thought what if the pill erased those memories. I know it's not a new idea, but I had a vision of those pills then being available in Starbucks-like shops on every corner. I built the story out of that idea.

One of my favorite parts of Memento Nora is how the different chapters are told from the first-person perspective of 3 different characters. Why did you decide to write the story this way? 
Actually, I wrote the first draft (s) of MN solely in Nora's point of view. However, she didn't know the whole story. So then I added Micah and Winter's POV's, and the story really came alive. Also, using several POV characters let me play around with how each interpret what's going on in a particular scene or plot point. The reader can put all those together and get a better picture than the characters do.

In Memento Nora, Micah and Nora create a comic to tell their story. Did you ever consider having your book published as a graphic novel? 
No, but that's not a bad idea.

My favorite scenes is between Nora and Micah in the waiting room at TFC at the beginning of the book. Micah thinks he is just messing with Nora and doesn't realize what the one small act would lead to. What was your favorite scene (or your favorite scene to write)?
I like that scene, too, because you see how Nora interprets what's going on as some big act of rebellion on Micah's part. Then Micah reveals he's just trying to mess with the popular girl that he has a crush on.

On writing:

What is your favorite writing environment?
My office. This is my full-time job. So I roll out of bed in the morning, feed the critters, grab a cup of tea, and park my behind in front of the computer for many hours. However, every once in a while, I do need a change a scene. I go down to my favorite local coffee shop with my netbook and write there for awhile. Working there has it's drawbacks (or perks, depending on how you look at it). The chocolate croissants are way too good.

How did writing your first novel differ from writing your many short stories? (I will be checking those out soon!)
Memento Nora actually started off as a short story, which was published in Odyssey magazine. The story was really about the decision Nora makes during her first TFC visit. That decision served as the starting point for the novel. In a short story, you can focus on a moment of change or a call to action whereas in a novel you have play it out and show that change or action. (You can do that in short story, too, of course.)

Do you save everything that you have written? Or do you delete/trash anything that you consider unusable?
If it's made it to the computer stage, I do save the story. I don't necessarily look at it again, though. I have saved notebooks where I started working on story ideas or research but never did anything with the information. Someday I may come back to those ideas.

You are of a member of Class of 2k11 and The League of Extraordinary Writers. Can you tell me how being a part of the groups has helped you prepare for your novel's debut? 
Being a member of those two "collectives" as well as the Elevensies has really helped in a number of ways. The Class of 2k11, of which I'm an officer, is a group of debut YA/MG authors who've banded together to market each others' books. (Elevensies is a community of YA/MG debuts as well, but the emphasis is less on marketing.) Working together gives each of us more opportunities and exposure for our books than trying to go it alone. The best thing, though, is that we have each other to talk to about the whole process. We vent. We commiserate. We advise. We celebrate. Together.

The League of Extraordinary Writers is a group blog where each of us have a YA dystopian book coming out this year. The League is more geared to talking about YA dystopian and science fiction in general. We do celebrate each others' debuts, but it's cool just hang out online and talk about the stuff we love.

Random questions about books:

Do you have any comfort reads? - a go-to book that you read because it will make you feel better or is filled with characters that you loved or want to revisit?
I have comfort genre: paranormal mysteries. I love Charlaine Harris and Kelley Armstrong. I just read the Body Finder by Kimberly Derting.

Searching for new books to read is a small part of my love for books. What are some determining factors when you are selecting new books to read? Current favorites?
The story has to grab me in the first few pages. I like a fresh voice and setting as well as story that promises to reveal something really interesting along the way. Some of my recent favorites are the Adoration of Jenna Fox and the Book Thief.

Is there one book or author that you wish you would have read and can't believe that you haven't yet? (Mine is Jane Austen)
I couldn't believe I waited so long to read Markus Zusak! The Book Thief was astoundingly good. The Messenger is on my to-read list.

Can you tell me about your latest novel or any works in-progress? 
I'm working on the sequel to Memento Nora. The Forgetting Curve will be coming out next Spring.

Memento Nora will be available April 1, 2011 from Marshall Cavendish publishing. More information can be found on the Memento Nora website at

I am currently hosting a giveaway for a signed copy of Memento Nora. If you would like a chance to win, ENTER HERE. The contest is offered to US and International entries and ends April 2, 2011.

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