Nicole, 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?
There’s a scene in the book that takes place at a “crisis pregnancy center.” These fake clinics have been in the news a lot lately. They are run by anti-choice organizations for the express purpose of coercing women into not terminating their pregnancies, often giving false information about things like the connection between abortions and breast cancer (there isn’t one). I knew that I needed a scene in one of these clinics when I planned the book. It took several attempts to find the right voice for the scene. I began by writing it in a more narrative style, i.e. “I walked into the clinic…” But that just felt so wrong. The book is written in journal format, and that just didn’t seem like the way Mellie would write about this in a journal where she is baring her soul. So I sat back and I really put myself in her shoes. What would it feel like for a scared, confused, pregnant 16-year-old girl to be in this clinic where she is shamed and chastised and lied to? It was so emotional that I was in tears as I poured the scene out on the page. That scene changed very little from the first to the final draft. It’s my favorite scene in the book, and it’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever written.
What do you hope readers will take away from WHAT THEY DON'T KNOW?
I hope readers will walk away with a deeper understanding of what women go through when they decide to have an abortion. It’s such a hot-button issue that it’s easy to think of it in black-and-white terms, but it’s so much more grey. I think a lot of people judge women who have abortions, because they’ve never been in that situation, and it’s really easy to sit on high and say, “Well I would never do that.” But you just never know what you’ll do until you’re in that situation yourself. I hope that anyone who reads the book will catch themselves when they judge a woman in these circumstances and just stop.
What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?
I’m sort of all over the place! I like to work in coffeeshops, but you know, eventually they kick you out. So I do also work at home. However, even though I have a dedicated office that is actually quite nice and decorated with all my favorite things, I rarely write in there. I often write at the kitchen table (where the chair isn’t nearly as comfortable as the office), or in our family playroom on the squashy faux-leather couch. For some reason, I found that cozying up under a blanket in a corner of that couch was the perfect place to do copyedits. I do like to listen to music, except when I’m doing line or copy edits, because then I need quiet without any distractions.
But my very favorite place to write is at Le Pain Quotidien (that fancy French cafe chain) with my bestie and critique partner, Romina Garber. We try to meet once a week and often it’s the most productive day of my week. I love writing with other people; I find that you can feed off each other’s energy in a symbiotic way, and sometimes it’s great to have someone right there with you to bounce ideas off of as you write.
ABOUT THE BOOKWhat They Don’t Know
by Nicole Maggi
Three secrets. One decision. A friendship that will change everything.
Mellie has always been the reliable friend, the good student, the doting daughter. But when an unspeakable act leads her to withdraw from everyone she loves, she is faced with a life-altering choice―a choice she must face alone.
Lise stands up―and speaks out―for what she believes in. And when she notices Mellie acting strangely, she gets caught up in trying to save her...all while trying to protect her own secret. One that might be the key to helping Mellie.
Told through Mellie and Lise's journal entries, this powerful, emotional novel chronicles Mellie's struggle to decide what is right for her and the unbreakable bond formed by the two girls on their journey.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Have you had a chance to read WHAT THEY DON'T KNOW yet? Do you have different spots for different parts of the writing process? Do you find it energizing to write with other writers? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!
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