Hey guys! I got to interview Marie Marquardt, the amazing author of Flight Season. You should definitely check it out, it was a great book! So without further ado, here is the interview!
I write in a lovely home office, surrounded by large cork boards that are always filled with odds and ends — random things that inspire me. it’s my favorite place to write, but it can be chaotic at certain times of day, since I share the house with a spouse, four kids, a dog, and a bearded dragon!
I generally know one character and the story line first, and then I spend some time getting to know the other characters. In the process of learning more about the characters, I get a sense of where they belong — that is, of the right setting for their story.
This story is the most personal of my books to date. it draws from my own experiences as an older teen. Like Vivi, my protagonist, I lost my father during my first year of college. And, like Vivi, I struggled with whether I had made the right decisions about where and when to go away to school. Flight Season also weaves together the stories and experiences of many teenage immigrants and asylum-seekers I have built friendships with over the years, in my academic work and running a non-profit called El Refugio, which serves detained immigrants and their loved ones.
I find that it’s easier to get into the mindset than to get out of it! Because so many parts of the story draw on experiences that I have had at different times in my life, it was not hard to access the emotions. In fact, it was sometimes cathartic. I just had to trust myself to dive deep into the emotions, and trust that I would be able to come back out to deal with my everyday life. That part was a little scary.
I’ve never really thought about this, but I don’t usually eat while noveling! I guess I’m too busy typing (and sometimes crying). I do take frequent chai tea and coffee breaks, though.
So, this is a bit of a confession: I don’t really enjoy reading books about writing. In fact, I’d say I actively dislike reading those books. I know I should read more of them, but I can’t find the patience for it. I sometimes equate my education in writing novels to my education in speaking Spanish. I’m pretty fluent in Spanish now, but I didn’t start learning until I was an adult, and I never really took formal classes. I have worked with tutors periodically, when I felt like I wasn’t making progress. But I mostly just spent a ton of time hanging around Spanish speakers and being brave enough to try talking with them. It helped that I’ve spent a good deal of time in places where Spanish is the only language spoken. I don’t really know all the rules of grammar, but I know what sounds right because I’ve been immersed in the language. And, for the most part, when I speak, I follow the rules of grammar, without exactly knowing what they are! I think it was like this for me learning to write a novel, too. I read novels voraciously — all kinds of novels – and I have for as long as I can remember. I guess that’s sort of the immersion approach to writing novels. I mostly feel-out pacing and plot and characterization, and I trust that I know what works because I have read so many wonderful novels that work. But sometimes, I get stuck and I need a “tutor”. That’s when my fabulous critique partner insists that I consult a book. And she’s right. I usually need it. The last time I was stuck on a plot issue, I found Story Engineering helpful (but I confess that I only read a few chapters!). I also love Anne Lamott, but Bird by Bird (her book on the writer’s life) is not my favorite of her books — I prefer Traveling Mercies.
Finding the courage to tell the parts of the story that link to my own experience as a teen. I wasn’t sure I could do it. I usually share my books with my husband, mom, and sisters during the entire writing process, but I couldn’t let this one go until I was finished and it was in the hands of my agent. I was too scared that I would lose my nerve and stop writing!
Ángel, for sure! His story was inspired by a teenager I knew many years ago, but Ángel had a clear and unique identity from the moment I started putting his words to the page. It’s so awesome — and rare — when that happens!
One of my favorite reads of 2017 was American Street by Ibi Zoboi. The writing is gorgeous, and it deals with some incredibly relevant and timely themes.
Thanks for reading the interview, and until next time, happy reading!