Hello Michelle, thank you so much for taking the time out to talk to me. 🙂
1. First things first: how did you take up writing?
It’s hard for me to remember when I first started — I was a very early reader, and I recall writing some terrible poetry in the fourth grade, though I think I’d probably tried to write some stories before that. I didn’t start writing seriously until I was in law school, though, which was many, many years later.
2. What was your very first attempt at creative writing?
See above. I’m pretty sure the terrible poem was about a spy named Di, if that gives you any sense of how awful it was.
3. Where did you get the ideas for your stories?
I tend to come from a “what if” place: what if a good girl did a bad thing for a good reason and got caught (Pushing Perfect)? What if a boy who thought his mother was dead got a letter from her (Questions I Want to Ask You, the book that’s coming out next summer)? Then writing the book becomes the process of answering the question.
4. What in particular gave you the idea for Playlist for the Dead?
I’d read a couple of really good books about suicide (13 REASONS WHY and LOOKING FOR ALASKA), but they both were about boys dealing with the loss of girls they loved, and I wanted to write about friendship between boys.
5. How did you come up with the play list for the book? And did you know that fans of the book have actually curated the entire list on YouTube for people to listen to while they read?
It was really hard — at first I made a list of all songs about suicide, but I hated a lot of the songs and it was much too literal. When I started thinking about the playlist as more an indication of what was going on in Hayden’s world and in his mind, it started to come together in a way that was more interesting to me. I’m very pleased people have made their own playlists; I put one up on Spotify myself, just to make sure it was out there. https://open.spotify.com/user/mfalkoff/playlist/4VTRRllBB7Qe5ABo2ReHJS
6. And what inspired Pushing Perfect?
I was reading a lot about the suicide epidemic in Palo Alto, California, where a lot of high-achieving teenagers were having trouble managing the stress. I didn’t want to write another suicide book, so I decided to explore the anxiety side of things, and the harmful decisions people can make when they’re under that kind of pressure.
7. Do you have particular schedules or writing routines when it comes to your work?
It varies a lot — I have a demanding day job, so when I have chunks of time I like to write in the morning for a few hours a day until I have a draft. While I’m working it’s easier for me to do revisions at night and over the weekend. I’ve learned to be flexible, though. I’m always happier when I’m writing, so I fit it in whenever I can.
8. If your story got turned into a movie, who would you like to see star as leads?
I am awful at those kinds of decisions, and I’m not always in the know about who the current good actors are, so I’d have to defer to the casting agents! I personally love independent movies, and I love it when new actors get a chance to start their careers, so I wouldn’t mind a cast full of exciting fantastic people no one’s ever heard of.
9. What are your future plans for writing? Can you give out a teaser or two for your readers?
I mentioned earlier QUESTIONS I WANT TO ASK YOU, the book that’s coming out next summer. I’m really excited about it; the main character is very different than the characters in the first two, and I’m looking forward to seeing whether people love him as much as I do.
10. Do have any particular authors who inspire your work?
There are so many I wouldn’t know where to start, so instead I’ll just mention some books I’ve loved lately. Angie Thomas’s THE HATE U GIVE is as wonderful as everyone says it is, and I’m very excited about the movie for that one; same for Becky Albertalli’s SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA.
11. What would your advice be to aspiring authors?
Read all the time, and keep writing no matter what. Those are the two most important things; everything else just complicates matters.
12. And finally, if there was a book you could turn into a movie, what would it be and why?
It’s funny — I’m not a particularly visual person, so I don’t tend to think about turning books into movies, though once I hear that it’s happening, I can get very excited (see my answer to question 10). If I had to pick one, though, I suppose I’d like to see Heidi Heilig’s THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE — that would be really fun to watch.
Thank you once again for talking me. I wish you all the best with your current work and future works.