Congratulations 2015 Graduates!!!
Whether you’re like my Pops and graduating from college, or like me, and napping on the kitchen floor, congratulations! Take some time to eat something nummy.
I am proud to purrsent you my intermew with the author of the Asylum series, Madeleine Roux! The first two books, Asylum and Sanctum, are available on Amazon, and the third book, Catacomb, is now available for pre-order!
Hazel: Hi Madeleine! Thanks so much for being here! What advice do you have for bright young kitties considering a writing career?
Madeleine: Meow is the time to practice, practice, practice. You won’t develop a voice and a style until you’ve really pushed yourself to try different genres and lengths of fiction or nonfiction.
Hazel: “Try different genres,” interesting…
Madeleine: Reading is also an essential part of growing as a writer – the more you read, the more you internalize the structure of a well-written book. Start to read with a critical eye, look for the bones of the book. What makes this plot work? How is the author choosing to communicate tone and atmosphere? Even if writing begins to feel natural over time, all authors are still making deliberate choices when it comes to structure.
Hazel: What’s your creative process?
Madeleine: I like to have a cup of tea or coffee and some unobtrusive music in the background, that usually signals my brain that it’s time to work. I like to outline these days, or at least have a comprehensive summary of the plot. Having a road map can keep you from getting blocked or stuck. I don’t edit myself as I go unless I come across a really major issue that changes earlier chapters. I’ve found it’s better to write more than you need and cut it back, but if you’re on a tough deadline sometimes it’s better to try and whittle down those impulses in the moment. Editing is crucial, but like I said, I don’t start tearing the piece apart until it’s done. I personally like to write at night, that’s when I feel most creative, but the occasional early bird morning or two can make you feel productive, too.
Hazel: Birds are delicious. Do you have kitties?
Madeleine: I sadly don’t have any kitties, yet! 😦 Right now my friends are kind enough to let me snuggle their buddies whenever I visit. Shout out to Wrex and Mr Slippers.
Hazel: Meows, friends of my new friend! So let’s talk about your book, unique in the sense of applying the genre of horror to Young Adult audiences. How do you adjust the amount of horror in a book to fit younger readers?
Madeleine: I have a pretty low tolerance for being scared, so in general I have to push myself to up the fear factor. Now that I’ve gotten some practice in the genre I can sense more or less where the boundaries are. It’s about being suggestive rather than explicit. If something is really violent or shocking, you provide just enough context to clue in the reader without making it over the top. I think in YA it’s easier to get away with paranormal scares rather than out and out violence, but I’m slowly adding more of the latter to my work. Yes, ghosts and visions are spooky, but I don’t think that fear lasts unless there’s a real life threats, too.
Hazel: That’s a good point. I felt as though your book was scary, but it wasn’t excessively violent. I found it scary in part because it seemed to come from a real place, our history of mistreating victims of mental illness. Why do you think people often associate mental illness with the paranormal?
Madeleine: I think there’s always a fear that we aren’t in control of our own minds. Not in a mind-control, conspiracy or aliens way, but just that our brains essentially inform everything we perceive, and if we can’t trust that machine to relate the world honestly to us, then what CAN we trust? In the books, I wanted to explore the stigma of mental illness and how it can be extremely frightening and threatening to the person dealing with it, how it can change how your friends and family perceive you and that in many ways that perception is beyond your control.
Dan is learning to live with his illness and learning how it will affect the people around him and the way they treat him. I think that innate fear of his own illness pairs well with the fears he’s experiencing in an external way, it adds another layer of doubt to what he’s seeing and not seeing. In a more general way, I think anyone who’s struggled with mental illness, myself included, worries about the fact that it’s an unseen wound. You can’t point to depression and say here, here’s the problem, put a bandaid on it, it’s more complex than that. In a similar way, the paranormal is unseen, it’s hugely dependent on perspective and perception.
Hazel: How do you think your book benefits from using real photos as illustrations?
Madeleine: I *hope* it creates a sense of dread and anticipation. Even if the scary thing is over in words, you might turn the page and find a creepy photo staring you in the face. Is that mean? It’s kind of mean.
Hazel: Haha it’s great! I felt it added to the experience and makes me want to experiment more with mixing words and pictures! Asylum draws much of its horror on actual facts of the past. Why do we experience horror when remembering the past?
Madeleine: With mental illness specifically, we’re STILL trying to treat it sensitively. It’s pretty horrifying the way anyone considered “damaged” was treated in the past. Folks were being treated for things that are not actually illnesses, and people with actual needs were not getting anything resembling the care they deserved. It’s scary to realize how recent that history is, I mean we’re still in the early stages of tackling mental health issues, and I suppose it’s like any phase of medicine, the early treatments are barbaric in hindsight and it’s terrifying to realize that many of us would have ended up being more or less abused because of ignorance and fear.
Hazel: And what comes next, right? What’s next for Dan, Abby, and Jordan?
Madeleine: Their adventure wraps up in the third book, CATACOMB, which is available in September. It involves a road trip, a new group of baddies out to get them and of course some surprises from Dan’s past.
Hazel: I can’t wait! I had a lot of fun reading your books and chatting with you today! To conclude, if you could say one thing to a new or existing follower, what would you like them to know?
Madeleine: Your human will get up when they’re good and ready. They know you’re hungry. Be patient. Catnip in moderation. Those dead mice on the doorstep aren’t sending the message you think they are. Also, thank you for reading, following and supporting, more books will make it to your paws soon.
Hazel: Mol! Thanks!
And thanks to you for reading!