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Author Interview: Angie Smibert
Thanks so much for stopping by Literary Cravings, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your road to publishing?
Thanks for having me! Memento Nora is my first novel, but I’ve published numerous short stories–both for adults and teens. I’ve also written professionally for many, many years, my most recent job being at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. There, I wrote training videos, designed online instruction, and led a digital media lab. I quit a few years ago to pursue fiction writing full time.
I sold Memento Nora after attending a regional SCBWI conference. My current editor was one of the panelists who invited submissions. (The conferences really are worth it!) After getting the offer from Marshall Cavendish, I found a great agent to represent me.
How did you come up with the idea for Memento Nora and what was your writing process like?
The idea came from current research in the area of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Scientists are looking at drugs that can lessen the effect of traumatic memories on PTSD sufferers. I took the idea a step further in that the pill could erase select memories. I had a vision of little Starbucks / frozen yogurt type places on every corner that dispensed the pill–and gave you reward points every time you forgot. That idea drove the story and the characters. I just keep asking myself questions. What kind of world would have these places? Who would be the least likely hero in this story? Who would benefit the most from these places? And so forth.
If you had to sum up Memento Nora in four words, what would they be?
Near future dystopian thriller. (Ok, it’s not really a thriller, but the pace is fast.)
In the beginning, what or who spoke to your first? The story or the characters?
As I said before, the idea spoke to me first, but then the characters kind of took over as I wrote.
Would you say Memento Nora dystopian novel? Why did you decide to create such a unique world?
Yes–and no. To me, a dystopia is a dysfunctional world (usually set in the future). Of course, most worlds are dysfunctional, aren’t they? Memento Nora is set on that slippery slope from our world into a full-blown dystopia.
Did you do any unique research for Memento Nora?
Yes, in all sorts of areas. The PTSD research led me to the story in the first place, but I also researched various elements that ended up in the book–from kinetic sculpture to Ninja Warrior. 😉
Was there any scene or part in Memento Nora that was difficult to write? And if so how did you get through writing it?
From an emotional perspective, writing what Nora’s mom was keeping secret was a little touchy–not because I went through it but someone I know did. Writing about something often helps me understand it, though.
Since finishing Memento Nora what are you working on next?
Right now, I’m working on the sequel to Memento Nora, The Forgetting Curve. It’s due out next spring