Interview with Angie Smibert, author of MEMENTO NORA

This week we're celebrating the launch of MEMENTO NORA! Today, Angie took time to answer some detailed questions about the book, the characters, and the world of MEMENTO NORA.

Where did you come up with the idea for MEMENTO NORA?

The idea came from current research into post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Scientists are testing drugs to help lessen the strangle-hold traumatic memories have on the brain. So I just took it one step further. What if the pill erased bad memories--and what if you could get the pill as easily as you could a latte or frozen yogurt? The world, characters, and story grew out of those questions.

Do you think the world of MEMENTO NORA--not just the forgetting pills, but also the obsession with personal security, the links between government and corporations--is a possibility in our own future? What do you think exists now that might one day become the world of MEMENTO NORA?

My intention wasn't really to be predictive; rather I was reverse-engineering a world to fit my what-if question. But, that being said, Nora's world may not to be too far off from ours, given a few more decades and few more terrorist attacks (God forbid). As for what exists today, think about how we outsourced so much of the war in Iraq to security corporations like Halliburton and CACI.

In MEMENTO NORA, the story's told from three different points of view: Nora, Micah, and Winter. Can you tell us a little about each character? Why did you decide to alternate the points of view in this way?

Actually, I wrote the first draft of MN from Nora's point of view. By the end, though, I realized she didn't know all of the story, so I added in Micah's and Winter's POVs. Nora is still the main character. She's an everygirl is many ways. A happy consumer only concerned with wearing the right thing and hanging out with the right kids. Micah and Winter are two kids Nora wouldn't normally be friends with. Micah is a homeless skater and artist. Also an artist (and tinkerer), Winter lives with her grandfather because her parents are in Detention.

The sequel, THE FORGETTING CURVE, will be out next year. Can we expect to see Nora, Micah, and Winter again? What can you tell us about this upcoming title?

Though Nora and Micah are in this book, it's more Winter-centric. You'll also get to meet some new POV characters.

In MEMENTO NORA, Nora and her friends fight back against their society through a comic book. Why did you decide to base their rebellion in this form?

Since everything digital is so controlled in Nora's world, they needed a creative, low tech way of fighting back. And comics have a long history of being subversive. Artists / writers put out underground comics in the 60's and 70's, often just using a pen, paper, and mimeograph or ditto machine.

Micah, Nora, and Winter don't start as friends--their relationship develops over the course of the novel. One of the impeding factors to their friendship is the class system. Can you describe a little more about how the class system developed and what it's like in their world?

The class system isn't really any different than our own today. The divides between upper and lower may be greater--driven in part by security concerns, Upper classes can afford to cocoon themselves in gated communities, complete with their own schools, police, and shopping. Nora aspires to live in one of these compounds. Those folks with questionable security scores (like a credit score but for security worthiness) may find themselves falling down the socio-economic ladder, even ending up homeless. That's how Micah and his mom land in Black Dog Village.

One of my favorite characters was actually a minor one--Winter's grandfather. Where did you come up with this dynamic character?

Watching too much Ninja Warrior (aka, Sasuke). Yes, it's a real show.

Can you tell us a little bit more about how MEMENTO NORA came to be? 

Memento Nora actually started off as a short story of the same name that was published in Odyssey magazine. After I sold the short story, I started thinking about expanding it into a novel. After about a year and half (give or take) of writing, workshopping, and revising, I submitted the manuscript to three editors who'd been on a panel I attended at a SCBWI regional conference. (These are so worth it.) My current editor from Marshall Cavendish was one these panelists.


Jessica E. Subject said...

Great interview! It makes me even more anxious for my copy to arrive.

Angie Smibert said...

Thanks, Jessica and Beth!