Saturday, July 8, 2017

0 Emily Bain Murphy, author of THE DISAPPEARANCES, on fighting to find the beauty in life

We are delighted to have Emily Bain Murphy join us today to share more about her debut novel, THE DISAPPEARANCES.

Emily, 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?

I cried when I wrote a certain scene of Aila remembering her mother. I’ve heard that if you don’t shed tears when you’re writing then you can’t expect readers to when they’re reading—so I really allowed myself to plumb the difficult depths of those feelings that day.

There’s also a certain kissing scene that I love—but those are actually really hard to write! Hopefully, if I’ve done it right, both of those high and low point scenes will give readers the full range of feels.
What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?

I think readers who enjoy something with a more classic feel will enjoy this. Some of my favorite books growing up definitely influence my writing, like The Secret Garden, Narnia, Anne of Green Gables—all where the protagonist comes from an outside world and finds a new, magical world full of beauty and challenges to overcome.

What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

Oh wow, did this book teach me about perseverance and revision! I’ve heard it said that sometimes the only difference sometimes between a published author and an unpublished one can be perseverance—and I think all told, this book took me about eight years from brainstorming to publication. I had a lot to learn!! Perhaps I should have stopped working on this one and gone on to work on something else during some of those middle years, but I just fell so in love with the idea, and I kept chipping away at it until its potential started becoming more of a reality. Stephanie Garber, who wrote CARAVAL, said that we should approach revision less like we’re trying to put a little makeup on our story and more like major plastic surgery. Some days it was really hard to keep coming back to work on the same book again and again, but I think it taught me that digging deep is how you find the gold in your story. I really want to encourage anyone out there who might be writing and struggling right now: keep going! I think the perseverance you’re learning is a really valuable trait that is important for areas of our lives even outside of writing.

What do you hope readers will take away from THE DISAPPEARANCES?

That life is hard but it is also beautiful. Sometimes you have to fight to find the beauty in it. That’s a skill in and of itself—sort of like a muscle you can build up. If I can help someone find a little bit of beauty and magic in their own lives even after they put the book down—that is my greatest hope for what readers will take away.

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 remember there was this particular knot in the story that I was trying to work out, and at the time I was living in Connecticut and driving up the Massachusetts Turnpike. I do my best thinking and brainstorming on the highway, actually, where I have a long stretch of road, and I’m not directly focusing on writing, but my subconscious is sort of working it out at the periphery. I had this major AHA! moment about the whole crux of the meaning behind what was happening to set off the town’s Disappearances, and I remember feeling this huge smile spread across my face and sense of relief and thinking, Yes!! Yes, that is it!

And then I drove home, rolled up my sleeves, and started to rework the bones of the story again, knowing this time that I really might have something different and special.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on another young adult novel with elements of snow, ballet, and magic in it that I can’t say too much about yet, but I’m absolutely loving the atmosphere in it and I’m hoping someday soon I can share it with all of you.


The Disappearances
by Emily Bain Murphy
HMH Books for Young Readers
Released 7/4/2017

What if the ordinary things in life suddenly…disappeared?

Aila Quinn’s mother, Juliet, has always been a mystery: vibrant yet guarded, she keeps her secrets beyond Aila’s reach. When Juliet dies, Aila and her younger brother Miles are sent to live in Sterling, a rural town far from home--and the place where Juliet grew up.

Sterling is a place with mysteries of its own. A place where the experiences that weave life together--scents of flowers and food, reflections from mirrors and lakes, even the ability to dream--vanish every seven years.

No one knows what caused these “Disappearances,” or what will slip away next. But Sterling always suspected that Juliet Quinn was somehow responsible--and Aila must bear the brunt of their blame while she follows the chain of literary clues her mother left behind.

As the next Disappearance nears, Aila begins to unravel the dual mystery of why the Disappearances happen and who her mother truly was. One thing is clear: Sterling isn’t going to hold on to anyone's secrets for long before it starts giving them up.

Purchase The Disappearances at Amazon
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Image result for emily bain murphyEmily Bain Murphy grew up in Indiana, Hong Kong, and Tokyo, and has also called Massachusetts and Connecticut home.

She loves books, Japanese karaoke, exploring new cities, and anything with Nutella. Her debut YA fantasy, THE DISAPPEARANCES, will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2017.

Murphy currently lives in San Francisco with her family and is at work on her second novel.


Have you had a chance to read THE DISAPPEARANCES yet? Are you continuing to persevere through your writing and your writing journey? Does driving help you work out plot issues? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy reading,

Emily, Jocelyn, Anisaa, Sam, Martina, Erin, Susan, Shelly, Kelly, Laura, and Lori Ann

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