I loved this book a lot--it's funny and upbeat, and the humor balances out the seriousness of Maeve's anxiety and her fear that her family may be falling apart. The story is both romantic and nuanced, and I liked that Mac shows that falling in love with Salix isn't a cure for Maeve's anxiety, but rather Salix is able to help Maeve make room in her life for it, and figure out ways to better manage it.
TCR: I love how you cut through the more serious angst and emotional trauma that Maeve experiences with slices of humor. The obituaries were some of my favorite parts. How did those develop during the drafting process?
CM: I love obituaries. Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve turned to them first in any newspaper. When I was a paramedic I always looked for obituaries for patients who died on my watch or were sure to shortly after.
I read obituaries start to finish, tedious lists of family members and good deeds and charities included. I’m always drawn to the obituaries of younger people who died, and especially and quite morbidly, the ones for children or babies. After that, the ones I’m most interested in are from fatalities that show up in the news. I like to check the obituary against them and see if there is any mention of the suicide or murder or freak accident at work. It fascinates me when there isn’t.
After that, I read all the elderly people’s obituaries and try to tease out something authentic from the carefully and respectfully composed words that condense a complex lifetime into a slim file of a few hundred words.
Truth be told, I write imaginary obituaries in my head all the time. Doesn’t everybody? I gave that habit to Maeve, because it is exactly something she would do.
TCR: What was the most challenging aspect to writing this book? The easiest?
CM: 10 Things needed to be the right balance between Maeve’s often crippling anxiety and the world outside of her. In various drafts, the scales would tip one way or the other, which was great because I got to know more about either her internal life or the ‘real’ world.’ I needed both those things—more of Maeve so that I could understand her better, but more of her world so that I could build it accurately and bring it to life to be as vibrant and compelling as Maeve’s interior world. Thankfully I love writing my books over and over again, and with each revision, Maeve’s internal world and external world became more fully realized until they complimented each other perfectly. Balance achieved.
Easiest? The twins. I love them. They were so easy to write that I had to cut out dozens of pages starring them because they don’t get to be my protagonists this time.
TCR: The issue of time and money aside, if you could write a story about any secondary character from this book, which one would you choose?
CM: Easy! The twins. Like I said above, I love them. And they were so easy to write. I’d love to write a middle grade series starring them and Gnomenville. Add a little magic realism to those kids and the possibilities would be endless. I want to read those books. I can’t stand it when I want to read a book that hasn’t been written.
I would also like to read a book about Dan, Maeve’s neighbor. I think he’s a very interesting character and I’d like to know more about him and how he ended up living in a cabin in the woods wearing a unicorn footy-jammies to bed and raising chickens. And I’d like it to be a quirky love story, so he’d end up with a lovely boyfriend. So I’d have to write it if I want to read it. Not enough writing hours in a lifetime to get to all the books I want to write!
10 Things I Can See From Here is out next week, February 28th!