Maggie, what was your inspiration for writing THE COST OF ALL THINGS?
I started writing THE COST OF ALL THINGS with the character of Ari, and the idea that she had deliberately chosen to forget something bad -- the death of her boyfriend. On the one hand, she could be free of pain. But on the other, there had to be consequences for making that choice. The idea of following that choice to its disastrous end provided the spark for the book. Then I started thinking about this world and the opportunities for shortcuts in all sorts of areas -- beauty, brains, strength, etc -- and I knew that there would be costs and consequences for all of those things, too. So what type of person would choose to take a spell? What wounds were they trying to get over? How did the spell hurt and help them? These were rich, fun questions to explore.
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?
The book has four points of view, and in the beginning, they only intersect every once in a while, but then at the end there's a great deal of overlapping and bursts from one point of view or another -- and lots of action. I wrote and re-wrote the sequence of scenes at the end too many times to count. I'm proud that I finally got it to the place it's in. But in terms of a scene I love.... there's a scene near the middle that I barely had to re-write at all, and I love it dearly. It involves kissing.
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?
I wish something so wonderful had happened! I feel like I'm still learning how to write, with every new project I take on. I do know that I couldn't have gotten to the point I'm at without Vermont College of Fine Arts. I'd been writing on my own for years before that, and had three novels languishing on my hard drive, but I knew I wasn't going to get to the point I wanted to without a push. Earning an MFA at VCFA gave that push. And it also gave me a writing community, which was a wonderful surprise and something I never knew I needed so badly.
What are you working on now?
I'm working on my second novel for Balzer + Bray, which I hope will come out next year. It's totally separate from The Cost of All Things, but it's also set in a world that's basically the real world except for one strange and impossible difference. I can't say too much about it yet, but it's about sisters and putting on a play.
ABOUT THE BOOKThe Cost of All Things by Maggie Lehrman Hardcover
Balzer + Bray
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind meets We Were Liars in this thought-provoking and brilliantly written debut that is part love story, part mystery, part high-stakes drama.
What would you pay to cure your heartbreak? Banish your sadness? Transform your looks? The right spell can fix anything…. When Ari's boyfriend Win dies, she gets a spell to erase all memory of him. But spells come at a cost, and this one sets off a chain of events that reveal the hidden—and sometimes dangerous—connections between Ari, her friends, and the boyfriend she can no longer remember.
Told from four different points of view, this original and affecting novel weaves past and present in a suspenseful narrative that unveils the truth behind a terrible tragedy.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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