M. G., what was your inspiration for writing EMANCIPATED?
If I told you the whole answer to that, I'd be giving you a HUGE spoiler for book 2. So I'm going to give you two-thirds of the answer. The first inspiration was Alex Garland's THE BEACH. That's about young people creating an idyllic utopia, a life outside of any real-world responsibilities. And it's also about the lengths they'll go to to protect their little bubble of happiness. The second inspiration is the TV show Breaking Bad. The genius of that show is the careful construction of a moral breakdown in the main character, slowly unveiling each action that led to his eventual moral bankruptcy. The third source of inspiration is a British movie - a thriller from the 1990s - also about young people living together in an apparently idyllic set-up. I'll tell you its name after book 2 is released.
What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?
To be honest, the first book was a lot of fun to write and there were no particularly difficult scenes. Most of the work went into editing it because the first draft had a lot of material that we ended up holding over for book 2 - there really was so much going on. The scene I most enjoyed writing and probably my favourite scene in the first book of this trilogy was the dinner party that John-Michael gives to celebrate the end of an 'unfortunate event'. It's the first time they are really making a conscious effort to emulate adult behaviour. I remember very well indeed my own first dinner party for teenage friends. It didn't go as well as John-Michael's in EMANCIPATED! So I guess I was writing a retrospective fantasy in that scene - cool friends including one who really knew how to cook, wine, a little bawdy talk and at the end, some heartfelt truths.
Was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?
It was something that Philip Pullman, another Oxford-based children's author, had written and it went something like this: "Write the book that only you could write." That's when I stopped trying to be another Dan Brown and started to mix it up. In 2005, who else was going to write a first person, blog-based, mystery-action-thriller with a Mexican British boy as the protagonist, mixing together conspiracy theories, archaeology and a 'Mayan' doomsday prophecy, with a plot that borrowed from telenovelas as much as from Indiana Jones and Stargate? Answer - no-one. That's why I got a six-figure book deal for my 'debut' novel, INVISIBLE CITY.
What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?
All of the above. I used to dream of having a writing shed, like some authors I know. But I became used to writing in my bedroom, it's very efficient. When I need a change of scenery it's off to one of three coffee shops in Oxford, or sometimes, a library. I use music to enhance the mood for certain scenes. Like one I've just written in book 2 of the EMANCIPATED trilogy - a long, tense sequence of crimey-wimey action. I listened to the theme from Taxi Driver over and over for that.
What are you working on now?
The sequel to EMANCIPATED, which is called INCRIMINATED. Yes, we're going for the Suggestive, Digestive formula for titles. (That's a joke for listeners to the Kermode and Mayo Film Review podcast, which is the best thing evs.) To readers of EMANCIPATED I say - I hope you enjoy the languid, getting to know you pace of the first book of this series, which is all about friendship. Because that's the only respite and leisure that I give these characters. From halfway through book 2 it's seat belts on and a very hardcore rollercoaster for our emancipated teens.
ABOUT THE BOOKEmancipated by M. G. Reyes
Katherine Tegen Books
The good girl, the bad boy, the diva, the hustler, the rock star, and the nerd.
Six teens legally liberated from parental control for six different reasons, all with one thing in common: something to hide.
Now they’re sharing a house in Venice Beach, acting like a family, and living their lies. No parents. No limits. No alibis. One witnessed a crime, another might be a murderer—and one’s been spying on them all.
As they cling to a fantasy of freedom and slowly let down their guards, the past creeps up on them. And when one of them gets arrested, everyone’s carefully constructed facade comes crumbling down.
In this steamy, drama-filled series, relationships are tested and secrets revealed as lies threaten to destroy their perfect setup.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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Martina, Jocelyn, Shelly, Jan, Lisa, Susan, and Erin