Monday, March 21, 2011

A Cornucopia of Dystopia: Author Interview with Angie Smibert (Memento Nora)

I was born in Blacksburg, a once sleepy college town in the mountains of Southwest Virginia. I grew up thinking I wanted to be a veterinarian; organic chemistry had other ideas. But I always had stories in my head. Eventually, after a few degrees and few cool jobs—including a 10-year stint at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center—I wrote some of those stories down.

I’ve published many short stories, for both adults and teens. (You can read some of them here on my site.)

My first novel, MEMENTO NORA, will be hitting the shelves in April 1, 2011.

You can also catch me blogging as part of the LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY WRITERS every Thursday.

From author's website.

Memento Nora is built around the concept of memory and its importance. What inspired your interest in memory and mementos?

I've always been fascinated with memory for some reason. And this particular story was inspired by current research in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). (I'm a big ole science nerd.) Scientists are now looking at existing medications that could possible lessen the grip of traumatic memories on the brain. When I read about this, I imagined little Starbucks / frozen yogurt like shops on every corner doling out these pills for a price--and a chance to earn reward points.

Nora, Micah and Winter share their stories through a comic book. Does this medium have a special significance? Why did you choose comics over another form?

Underground comics were big in the 60's and 70's as a form of social commentary. These comics were typically put out by small presses or self-published on mimeograph or ditto machines. So comics seemed like a natural way to go.

Of the three narrators, with whom did you feel a closer connection? Were any of the characters based on yourself or someone you know?

None of the characters were based on me. Of course, there's always a little bit of the writer in every character, though. Micah was inspired by someone I used to work with. He's a graphic artist, animator, and screen printer (among other things). When I gave him a draft of the book to read, I told him that Micah was roughly inspired by how I imagined him as a teenager--if he'd been homeless and living in the future.

Does Winter have some kind of special (psychic?) abilities?

Winter is just has an unusual way of looking at the world. Plus she's probably bipolar. I'll leave it to the reader to decide if Winter's hummingbirds are real.

What message do you hope readers take away from Memento Nora?

First of all, I hope readers enjoy it. Beyond that, I'm not sure if I really have a message that I want them to take away. Certainly, I hope I've given the reader some things to think about. Okay, if I had to pick a message, it might be this: our memories are part of who we are--both as individuals and a society.

What was your biggest challenge in writing this novel?

As a writer, I think my biggest challenge was plotting and keeping the tension going.

Dystopian fiction seems to be on the rise in contemporary fiction. Why do you think these unsettling futures captivate our imaginations?

Our present is unsettled. Dystopias offer a way to explore our fears about the future and maybe escape from it. (Or not.)

What one book do you think has been the most influential in the past 100 years? Why?

That is a tough question. I don't know about mainstream fiction. Maybe for science fiction and fantasy that book was JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

What memory from your teenage years would you never be willing to part with?

Maybe my first kiss. (It was at 4-H camp, of all places.)

What is a random fact readers probably don’t know about you?

I love classic movies.

Will there be a sequel to Memento Nora? What other projects do you have in the works?

I'm working on a sequel right now.

For more about this author, please visit:

Thanks so much to Angie for taking the time to answer my questions, and for being part of A Cornucopia of Dystopia!


Anonymous said...

This was a great interview. I can't wait for this book to hit the shelves!
And, I just think it is the bee's knees that Ms. Smibert used to work for NASA.

- Jackie

ajmitchell said...

That was such a wonderful interview. I loved the question and answer to the memory in high school one. Amazing! Thanks so much to both of you for sharing!

Angie Smibert said...

Thanks for putting together the Cornucopia--and thanks to everyone who stops by. This was probably my bad, but the book actually comes out April 1st.

Casey (The Bookish Type) said...

Hi Angie -- thanks so much for the heads up! It was my bad -- everywhere I looked said the 28th, except your page that had been updated back in January, so I figured they moved the date (as they are so often wont to do). I've updated it to the correct date! Thanks!

Evie said...

Fantastic interview, I loved the questions you asked, very interesting! I am adding this book to my TBR pile :)

Melissa (My words and pages) said...

Great interview. :) Really a lot went into this book in the thoughts of the character it seems. :) Thanks!

ivanova said...

I echo what everyone else said. Great interview!

Stephanie (Books Are A Girl's Best Friend) said...

Very original questions, Casey! The idea of exploring memories in a dystopian world sounds really interesting :)

A Canadian Girl said...

Lol, I see some pretty similar questions as mine :)

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