I'm thrilled to welcome Nicole Maggi to The Hiding Spot to chat a bit about her new book The Forgetting! I adored this book, which is part mystery and part romance and tackles serious issues of homelessness and prostitution.
The Forgetting is a mystery, but with a healthy dose of scifi and realism thrown in for good measure. How did you decide where you would stick with realism and science and where you would bend the rules and take some artistic license?
I love the paranormal genre (my other books, The Twin Willow Series, is paranormal) and I just gravitate toward it more than straight realism. Years ago I attended a panel of authors who wrote magical realism books and one of them said that he tried to make his book just straight realism and it wasn’t working and he realized he wanted to put monsters in it. So he tried to make the monsters symbolic and internal and metaphorical, and then he realized, “No, I want REAL MONSTERS.” It’s sort of the same for me. Something paranormal is always going to sneak in.
In The Forgetting I decided to keep the paranormal element to the memories that Georgie gets from her donor. I could go as far as I wanted with the actual memories – like the emotions she feels for the boy that her donor loved – but the actual mystery would remain very realistic. I did fudge some stuff – like, a recent heart transplant recipient probably wouldn’t be running around Boston as much as Georgie runs around Boston – but the force that drives her is otherworldly so I feel like that’s a decent excuse. I definitely walked a fine line, because I didn’t want to go so overboard with the paranormal element that people dismissed the reality of the story. The world that Georgie descends into, of trafficked children and illegal sex trade, is very very real and I wanted to make sure people connected with that.
You know, it’s odd, because my process seems to change with each book. My first two books (one of which is still unpublished, the other of which is my debut Winter Falls) were both completely written by the seat of my pants. And while that was exhilarating, it also gave me a lot of work on the back end. The first drafts of those two books were total messes, and I had to do a lot of revision to get them submission-ready. The Forgetting I approached totally differently. I plotted the whole thing out, turning point by turning point, before I started writing. I allowed for changes as I wrote – I have to do that for myself, or I get bored – but I had a solid road map to guide me as I went along. As a result, I wrote the first draft in four months, did one revision, sold the book, and did only one more draft with my editor. I wrote the second book in my trilogy (In the Mouth of the Wolf, Medallion Press, June 9th) the same way. However, I tried to do that with the third book in the trilogy (which I’m working on right now) and it backfired. With that book, I’m having to write all the big scenes first and then go back and fill in everything else. So I’ve come to believe that it’s the book that determines the process, no matter how hard we try to write it in a certain way.
What jobs did you have on your way to becoming a published author? Is there a certain work experience that has shaped your writing or provided inspiration?
Excuse me while I laugh for a good long while….
Okay, I’m back. I’ve had A LOT of jobs. A LOT. I went to school for acting, and I pursued acting very seriously for many years, really until a few years ago, after my writing really took off and I had a child. I think my acting experience deeply informs my writing. I’m good at writing dialogue and I think that comes from working with plays and really hearing how people speak to each other.
That’s the serious part of my answer. Here’s a list of some of the other jobs I’ve had:
An assistant on the trading floor of a huge investment bank. I wrote my first novel there, blissfully typing away in Word while people screamed trades over my head.
An assistant for the handbag division of Federated Department Stores. There was a closet full of discarded samples and once a month they cleaned it out and I was allowed to take anything I wanted. This is where my deep love for handbags comes from. Also, on my first day I made the mistake of calling them purses and my coworker informed me that “A purse is something you do with your lips. These are handbags.” So now you know.
A temp at another big investment bank. I was filling in for someone who was out sick. On the second day of the job I got a call informing me that the person I was filling in for had died. It was then left to me to tell all her coworkers and bosses that she had passed away. Not. Fun.
A personal assistant for very rich, very crazy people. I can’t say too much about this job as I signed a confidentiality agreement, but someday I’ll find a way around that and write a book.
A manager of the security guards for the Oscars. Sounds glamorous, right? The next time you’re at the Hollywood & Highland complex in Hollywood, take a little jaunt around the parking garage beneath the structure. That was my office. However, I did get to walk the red carpet…on the night before the show, before any of the stars did.
All of these jobs provided financial assistance for me while I wrote and acted, and for that I am always grateful…as well as for the endless anecdotes they provided me.
If you had to pick a favorite word, what would it be and why?
Okay, this probably sounds super pretentious, but I love the word CERULEAN. I’ve loved it ever since I first read it when I was a kid. I can’t quite pinpoint why. I think it’s because it’s often used to describe water, and I love water, especially the ocean. I used to really overuse it so now I’m very careful to make sure I don’t, but you’ll see at least one use of it in almost every book of mine.
My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Who, what, or where can be credited as your personal escape from reality?
Hawaii. There are two types of time. Chronos, which is everyday time, time spent waiting on line at the grocery store and getting all the work done that you need to get done. And Kairos, which I think of as Golden Time, when time seems to freeze into one perfect, beautiful, golden moment. Time on Hawaii is Kairos time. Everything else disappears but that moment, that long sunlit, wave-crashing moment on the islands. The last time we went I cried as the plane landed because I was so happy to be there. I knew for the next week that nothing else would exist except me, my husband and our daughter…and nothing else did.
What can readers look forward to next?
The first book in my Twin Willows Trilogy, Winter Falls, came out in December, and the second book, In the Mouth of the Wolf, comes out June 9th. The third book will be out in early 2016. After that, I’ll have a second thriller coming out from Sourcebooks. I’m developing that book now; it’s a spy thriller. That should be out in the second half of 2016. So that should keep me busy writing – and my readers busy reading – for a while!