1) How did you get the idea for Madapple?
When I was an undergraduate studying comparative religion, I was fascinated to learn that certain mythologies seem to cross religions and cultures. I thought it would be interesting to build a sort of mystery around some of these overlapping traditions.
Then I went to law school and began working as a litigator. Ultimately, it was my experience as a litigator, combined with my background in comparative religion, that spurred my writing of Madapple. As a litigator, I spent my days formulating arguments for my clients, selecting and emphasizing those facts that best supported by positions. In each case, opposing counsel would do the same, emphasizing those facts that best supported her argument. In theory, truth somehow filtered through: the judge or jury would sort through the extreme arguments and parse out what was fair and true. In actuality, each argument oversimplified reality, and the ending result, while perhaps as fair as was feasible, often had little to do with truth.
In Madapple, I wanted to build on this experience and explore ways in which we humans, in our attempt to understand the world, at times simplify and thereby distort it. I wanted to think about how we create categories, based on what we want or have felt or believe is socially acceptable, and then divide the world into these categories.
Specifically, I wanted to explore the dichotomy between science and religion. As Aslaug, the protagonist of MADAPPLE, says, "Science describes the world, it doesn't explain it: it can describe the universe's formation, but it can't explain
how something can come from nothing. That's the miracle." Yet religion absent science also seems insufficient. If God exists, would not nature be a means by which to understand God? The more I researched the natural world in my writing of MADAPPLE, the more convinced of this I became.
Ultimately, I hoped MADAPPLE would be a contemplation on faith: faith in God; faith in science; and the way in which faith can both open the mind and confine it.
2) What are you working on right now? Can you tell us anything about it?
My second book also is a literary mystery of sorts. It is under contract with Knopf as well, and I have finished a draft. That said, I feel more comfortable not sharing a lot about my writing while I'm in the process of writing. I find I need the space to not be too critical or self-conscious at the outsetso that the ideas can flow more freely. For this reason, I'd rather not share any more about it now, but thank you for asking!
3) How was the journey to getting Madapple published? Was it really difficult?
I just today finished an entry about this very issue which will appear on author Meg Waite Clayton's blog, http://1stbooks. blogspot. com/. Writing and publishing Madapple took a long time. I spent many years researching and writing it. The publishing part was a bit easier for me. I was lucky in that I met my agent, Laura Rennert, at a conference and she offered to represent me before I had completed the novel. I think attending writing conferences is a wonderful way not only to hone the craft of writing but also to meet agents and editors and other writers. The biggest challenge for my agent and me was determining how to market Madapplethat is, whether to try to sell it as an adult book or a young adult book. Ultimately, we decided it was best to seek out the best editor and publishing house possible, and let the publisher make that decision. I signed with editor Michelle Frey at Knopfwhom I think was the perfect editor for Madapple. Michele decided to market Madapple as a "crossover" book, a book intended for both adults and mature teens.