YA author Rebecca Maizel is at The Hiding Spot today! Check out her most recent release, A Season for Fireflies, which is on shelves now!
In A Season for Fireflies, the main character’s memory is lost, leading to second chances after a tumultuous year. Can you share your inspiration for this premise?
I think that mainly I was inspired by the idea of second chances. How many times have you made a decision that was a monumentally BAD idea? Sometimes those choices come from a place of pain and we can’t share why we do what we do. I was interested in exploring those kinds of decisions. There's that old adage – “you might not remember what someone said but you’ll always remember how they made you feel.” I think this is true for our deepest, youngest memories and traumas. What if your memory was erased? You could potentially still access the way you felt or the pain you experienced. Penny has to heal herself emotionally first – only then can the rest of her life fall into place. Also, I loved the imagery of a fireflies taking over a town.
Tell me a little bit about your writing process: Do you outline? Start at the beginning? The middle? The end?
This book started out a LOT darker than the finished product. My amazing editor, Jocelyn Davies, at Harper helped me parse out the real story/through-line. Maybe one day I’ll write the darker version of this book, but I feel very much that this story expressed the emotional experiences I wanted to explore and what so many teens experience. I guess that’s my long winded answer. I start from the emotional place of the character. If your character doesn't have an emotional conflict that he/she has to work out then they don't have anywhere to go in a scene. You could put a character in any scene but if they don't have an emotional view on the world, even quite a flawed view, then the scene just won’t hold water.
I start non-linearly. My mentor, A.M. Jenkins is really the one who showed me the importance of this (if you don’t go out and read her books, Damage or Beating Heart right now, yer nuts!). Sometimes we think we HAVE to write in the order that the book is happening, but that’s limiting. If you have that scene inside you, the one that’s DYING to come out, but you say, “oh no, no, you wait while I write this OTHER scene that I HAVE to write, which I’m not that into right now” then you are delaying the emotional power that could charge that scene. Follow the character. Let the character dictate which scenes you write first.
Inspiration comes in many forms. Share three people, places, or things that inspire your creativity.
People: Two people:
1. AM Jenkins - this woman changed me forever. She's a kick ass writer. Can I say ass?
2. My sister. She claims she’s a horrible writer but she’s actually one of the most sensitive, poetic writers I know. I keep trying to convince her to write a book with me. Maybe you can help me convince her to do so.
Places: Chatham, Cape Cod also Nauset Beach. With the exception of this newest book, A Season for Fireflies, every single book has been set on Cape Cod or in Chatham, MA. It remains an important place in my life.
My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Name a notable book that provided you with a hiding spot.
I love your blog’s premise. Books can save lives. A book can literally transport you away from the things that hurt, the people who don't understand, and the places in real life where you cannot hide (whether that be figurative or literal). It’s really hard to pick one book.
As a kid: Sideway Stories from Wayside School – Louis Sachar, Babysitter’s Club by Ann M. Martin (Claudia 4-ever!) As a teen: In the 90’s I didn't have the kind of access to books that young people do today. One of the most satisfying experiences is watching a young person walk through the YA section of a bookstore and have hundreds of books to choose from. I would say the book that had the biggest impact on me was Tim O Brien’s The Things They Carried, which I read in high school. It was the first time I read a book that taught me about the emotional toils of war.
Adult: Adult fiction: Anything Amy Hempel
YA: Looking For Alaska – John Green
MG: Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban (the best example of plotting ever)
What can readers look forward to next?
Right now I just sent a synopsis (which I suck at writing) and a creative sample to my editor of my newest story. It’s untitled, but like Fireflies it deals with some supernatural elements. I really hope my editor loves this new idea as much as I do.
About the Book
A story of second chances from the author of Between Us and the Moon, which Kirkus Reviews called “what first love is meant to be.”
A year ago, Penny Berne was the star of her high school’s theater department, surrounded by a group of misfit friends and falling in love for the first time. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, her new best friend is the most popular girl in school, and her first love, Wes, ignores her. Penny is revered and hated. Then, in a flash, a near-fatal lightning strike leaves Penny with no memory of the past year—or how she went from drama nerd to queen bee.
As a record number of fireflies light up her town and her life, Penny realizes she may be able to make things right again—and that even if she can’t change the past, she can learn to see the magic where she never could before.
This captivating new novel about first love, second chances, and the power of memory is perfect for fans of Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall and Katie Cotugno’s How to Love.
About the Author
Rebecca Maizel hails from Rhode Island, where she teaches high school literature at her alma mater the Wheeler School. She tries not to force her students to read her books, though. Rebecca is the author of several published novels for young adults, and recently achieved an MFA in Writing for Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She also enjoys Indian food, her dog Georgie, and running moderately long distances.