Saturday, October 18, 2014

0 Margaux Froley, author of HERO COMPLEX, on falling into research wormholes, and needing to write crappy chapters.

What is your favorite thing about HERO COMPLEX?

The thing that surprised me about HERO COMPLEX was the historical backstory I got to play with. I knew I wanted to dig into the origins of the Keaton School and the infamous Mr. Keaton, but I ended up getting really immersed in American life during WWII, particularly in California, which led me down a research vortex of the Japanese Internment camps and the forced internment of Japanese American citizens after Pearl Harbor. Our own President ordered the forced internment of any citizen with Japanese roots. People had to give up their houses, their businesses, their pets, their belongings, and some even their lives in a very thuggish attempt at American safety during WWII. 

It seems like a very unthinkable act that could never happen today, but this happened in our recent history. I wanted to bring some of that to light and I really enjoyed weaving real history in with my imaginary Keaton School.

Also, on a totally separate note, I loved getting Devon and her friends off the Keaton campus and having them run around and play in Berkeley and San Francisco. Opening up their world a little bit was a fun way to try to keep everyone fresh.

How long did you work on the book?

I ended up spending about 6 months on the first drafts of HERO COMPLEX. Because it's a continuation of ESCAPE THEORY, I had an inkling about where I wanted the story to go. But, I knew I also wanted to highlight a flashback sequence from the 1940s around WWIIl and the Manhattan Project. I spent a good chunk of time researching that and had to pull myself out of that wormhole and remember to let the characters still dictate the story rather than letting the research pull me too far off the mark. 

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

My writing ritual has evolved in the last few years. I used to only be able to write out of the house at a coffeeshop or library. Headphones and a playlist for a specific project has always been a must-have. Now I keep pretty consistent hours writing at home, which I think helps keep me moving through the book. I try to write about 2,000 to 2,500 words a day. Sometimes those are a great 2,000 words and they come quickly, sometimes it is like typing with bricks and the words come slowly. But at the end of the day, whether the writing is good or bad, I can feel good that I showed up and put my butt in the chair. Also, writing HERO COMPLEX I got into a habit of brewing a whole pot of English tea

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Be consistent. I feel like just writing and then writing some more is the only way to get better. Being patient with your process, has also been key to my own evolution. Sometimes I need to write a crappy chapter in order to work through a character or story hiccup. I always say that it's easier to improve upon crap than improve upon nothing at all. Just getting that first draft material down sets the stage to come back and make it better in the next draft.

Also, trusting our own inner voice is one of the best muscles we can flex as writers. That's why I think meditation is a helpful practice for writers so we can keep that pipeline to our unconscious open. 

What are you working on now? 

I'm developing a few new book ideas, which really just means writing early chapters of ideas and figuring out if any of them are valid ideas. I have a new murder mystery I'm excited about, which has been fun to crack. 

Giveaway ends 10/19/2014 at midnight EST.


Hero Complex
by Margaux Froley
Soho Teen
Released 10/14/2014

Less than a month has passed since Devon Mackintosh uncovered the truth about the apparent suicide of Keaton’s golden boy and her unrequited love, Hutch. But that doesn’t mean the danger is over. Her own life has been threatened. Solving Hutch’s case only unearthed more questions: what lies beneath the Keaton land that could be so valuable as to tear the Hutchins family apart?

Hutch’s grandfather, Reed Hutchins, knows the answer. But Reed is dying of cancer, and this dark family secret might die with him. Faced with no other option, Devon swipes Reed’s diary  and plunges into his life as an 18-year-old science prodigy in the immediate aftermath of Pearl Harbor. Through his adolescent eyes—and his role in biological weapons research, still classified to this day—Devon fights to piece together the final clues to what haunts the Keaton hillsides, the truth Reed’s enemies are still willing to kill for.

Purchase Hero Complex at Amazon
Purchase Hero Complex at IndieBound
View Hero Complex on Goodreads


Margaux Froley grew up in Santa Barbara, California, and attended not one, but two boarding schools during her high school years in California and Oxford, England.  She studied film at University of Southern California, and has worked for such television networks as: TLC,  CMT, Travel, MTV, and the CW.  She currently lives in Los Angeles and still loves Nutter Butters.  

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