Sunday, January 27, 2013

Interview with Diane Vanaskie Mulligan, Author of 'Watch Me Disappear'

Today, I would like to welcome author Diane Mulligan to the blog. The author of 'Watch Me Disappear' is here to give us more insight into herself and into her debut novel. Thanks for stopping by!

What was the inspiration for 'Watch Me Disappear'?

Watch Me Disappear grew from a writing prompt I did with my students in a creative writing club. I always did the exercises with my students, and one day the prompt was to write a scene in which a character eavesdrops on someone. That became the opening of the novel.

Which character spoke to you the most during the writing process?

Lizzie is the character who is most like me, but I was really interested in Patty Morgan, Lizzie’s neighbor and the mother of Maura, a troubled young woman who Lizzie befriends. Somewhere around the middle of the second draft, I actually considered starting over and having multiple point-of-view characters just so I could explore Patty’s point of view, because I wanted to learn more about her and her choices as a parent, but I quickly realized that would be a much different book, and I decided to stick with my original scheme. Still, as someone who meets a lot of parents of teenagers and sees a lot of different parenting styles, I am interested in the relationships between teens and parents, and it’s something I’ll definitely be exploring more.

If you could turn your book into a movie, which actors would you choose to play each part?
This is a hard question for me because I’m really bad at actors and actresses. I guess for Maura I’d pick Chloe Moretz, who played the teenage daughter in Dark Shadows. For Missy, Bonnie Wright, who played Ginny Weasley in the Harry Potter Movies. For Lizzie—this is the hardest one, because she’s not supposed to be the pretty, Hollywood type—but I think I’d pick Abigail Breslin. Paul is the easiest one: Logan Lerman from The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

How does your teaching career help you with your writing?

Teaching helps me with my writing in so many ways. First of all, to teach great works of literature, I have to study them. The best way to learn how to write is to read a lot, and to go one step further: Dissect the books you read to understand craft. Second, my students inspire me to keep writing. The best thing about working with teens is being around people who are so full of big dreams. A lot of adults seem to forget the dreams of their youth, but seeing kids look starry-eyed into the future helps me remember the kid that I was, and also makes me want to keep my dreams alive. I don’t want to be a role model of resignation. Rather, I want my students to see that you can grow and have a regular job and a nice life without giving up on your dreams. The two things aren’t mutually exclusive.

What is one of your most memorable moments teaching or in your after school writing club?
One moment that comes to mind is from my third year teaching. I was sitting in my homeroom, which was in another teacher’s classroom, because I hadn’t yet gotten a classroom of my own. A student I taught the previous year came in looking for me. He was a senior at that point and incredibly bright—certainly with more native intelligence than me. When he was in my class, I often thought he seemed bored, and honestly I didn’t think he cared much for the class, so when he came into the room, I assumed he was looking for the other teacher, since that teacher works mostly with seniors. Instead, he handed me an envelope and left. In the envelope was a letter he had written to me thanking me for junior English class. He wrote that he had never been interested in writing before that class, but the assignments I had given had inspired him and helped him find his voice, and he intended to study English in college. It was a very humbling reminder that we often have no idea of the effect we have on our students.

Who was your most influential teacher?
My most influential teacher was probably my high school art teacher, Mr. Sykes. I took two art classes with him—freshman year and senior year—and I was in the art club for four years. What stands out my memories of art class was how positive and encouraging Mr. Sykes always was. He really believed in me.

What other projects do you have in the works?
Right now I’m on a third draft of my next novel, which is mainstream fiction. It’s been three years in the works so far, but I think this year it’ll be done. You can watch my blog for details!

If you could be any character in a book, which would you choose?
I think I would be Hermione Granger. Not very original, right? But Hermione is awesome! She’s smart, brave, and cute.

What are you reading right now?
Right now I’m reading A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin, which is the third book in the “Song of Fire and Ice” series, better known as “A Game of Thrones” thanks to the HBO series. It’s a great indulgence to read. I can’t put it down.

What is something readers may be surprised to learn about you?
I think people always expect me to be much more girly than I am. I like shoes and makeup as much as the next gal, but I’m utterly disinterested in things like home décor. If it weren’t for my husband, the décor of my house would probably be Shaker simplicity, because I hate dusting and I have no time for arranging knick-knacks.

Anything else you would like to add?

Thanks for having me! Fun questions!

Author Bio:
Diane Vanaskie Mulligan began writing Watch Me Disappear during an after-school writing club she moderates for high school students. This is her first novel. She holds a BA in American Studies from Mount Holyoke College and a Master’s degree in teaching from Simmons College. When she isn’t teaching or writing, she’s the managing editor at The Worcester Review and the director of The Betty Curtis Worcester County Young Writers’ Conference You can also find her occasionally strumming her guitar and singing at various bars in central Massachusetts, where she lives with her husband.

New Adult

Title: Watch Me Disappear
Author: Diane Vanaskie Mulligan
Date Published: 8/2012

Lizzie Richards isn’t excited to be starting over at a new school for her senior year, but she’s trying to take her mother’s advice and make the most of it—the only way she can:  By disobeying her strict parents’ rules. Lizzie’s father has moved the family around every few years to advance his career, so she has never had a chance to develop the kind of “BFF” relationships she thinks most kids have. She’s bracing herself for another lonely year at her third high school when her neighbor Maura gets sick of watching her little brother when she could be partying. Thanks to Maura’s plotting, Lizzie becomes everyone’s new favorite babysitter. Seeing her opportunity, Lizzie decides to break her mother’s rules by using Maura’s computer to create a secret Email address and Facebook account. She is quickly friended by Missy, a fellow transfer student as eager for a friend as she is. Things are looking up for Lizzie until Maura’s ex-boyfriend Paul sets his eye on Missy. Caught between her new best friend and the neighbor whose friendship promises instant popularity, Lizzie doesn’t know what to do—because she’s fallen for Paul, too.

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