Google+ Jen Ryland/YA Romantics: Blog Tour: INTERVIEW with If You Find Me author Emily Murdoch

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Blog Tour: INTERVIEW with If You Find Me author Emily Murdoch



If You Find Me
by Emily Murdoch
To be published by St. Martin's Griffin
on March 26, 2013

Yesterday, I reviewed a fantastic new contemporary YA, If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch. Today, I'm so excited that, as part of the book's blog tour, hosted by The Midnight Garden, Emily is able to stop by and answer a few of the questions I had after reading her book.  St. Martin's Griffin is also offering up a copy of the book -- you can enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of the post.



Emily Murdoch is a writer, a poet, and a lover of books. There's never a time she's without a book. When she's not reading or writing, you'll find her caring for her horses, dogs and family on a ranch in rural Arizona, where the desert's tranquil beauty and rich wildlife often enter into her poetry and writing. 

Jen: Welcome to my blog, Emily! I loved If You Find Me and am so excited that you could stop by and tell us more about your book.

Emily: I’m so glad you loved the novel. That’s always the hope, and when many people love your book, it’s the most amazing feeling. I’m honored to be here! Thank you for the warm welcome.

Jen: If You Find Me opens as Carey and her younger sister are found after years of hiding in the woods with their mother. The Hundred Acre Wood is a huge part of your story. How did you go about conceptualizing this place as both a setting and as a source of memory and emotion for Carey?

Emily: I wanted this novel to be a study in opposites. A kind of this versus that.  In the case of Winnie the Pooh, such a “normal” part of many peoples’ childhoods, versus the abnormality of Carey and Jenessa’s upbringing. Innocence versus experience. Pooh’s wisdom versus the thought processes of a mentally ill, drug-addicted mother.

Regarding the woods, I was surprised to find out after the fact that trees symbolize the good mother. So, add in Carey’s trees versus Carey’s mother. Also, I thought of Carey’s woods as being Carey’s church. So, God and nature, versus man’s (sometimes darker) nature. 

Jen: I read If You Find Me immediately after finishing another fantastic St. Martin’s YA book, Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. In that book, Eleanor is bullied for her unconventional looks. In contrast, Carey’s beauty eases her acceptance at a new school, though her time in the woods prevents her from believing that she’s beautiful inside and out. Can you talk a little bit about your choice to make Carey beautiful, and about beauty in general as a theme in your book?

Emily: I’d love to – because it was a deliberate, pre-pondered decision. Carey’s beauty is again a case of this versus that, another study in opposites. It posits the question, would you choose to be thin and beautiful like Carey, if it meant having to inhabit her life? Her horrors? Her lacks?

What makes a person beautiful? If you feel ugly on the inside, can you even feel or see your own beauty, whether physical or otherwise? Can the inside cancel out the outside? Can the outside cancel out the inside? And is beauty all it’s cracked up to be? Is it really the key to the city?

Perhaps it’s time “beauty” became synonymous with love, kindness, charity. The warm glow we kindle inside ourselves and others after extending our hands and hearts and pledging our tolerance. In the countenance of those moments lives an almost unbearable beauty unmarred by time or age. An inclusive beauty, where everyone is welcome.

 Jen: Melissa – Carey’s new stepmother – seems like one of those people who just quietly holds everything around her together.  Your bio says that you care for family and horses and dogs. I wonder if you see some of yourself in Melissa, or if you have a Melissa figure in your own life?

Emily: Unfortunately, I don’t have a Melissa figure in my own life, but I wanted to see what would happen if Carey did. How such a maternal figure would impact her or heal her or change her.

As for me, whenever I need some mothering, I flip on the radio to 94.9 and listen to the Delilah show. (You can find out all about her at Delilah.com.) She’s on each night from seven pm to midnight, and she’s very much like the world’s mother. She fills a person up in the best ways, which is why I modeled Melissa after her. 

Jen: A lot of YA books have edged into the 400+ page range. At 256 pages, If You Find Me feels both compelling and complete. Did the length of the book change much during editing? Do you think the fact that you’re also a poet encourages you to be more succinct in your storytelling?

Emily: What smart questions!

If You Find Me’s length remained consistent throughout the process. I like my writing tight; at least, as tight as I can make it, once I accept that perfection is impossible.

I do think my poetry background renders me more succinct. With poetry, words are a precious resource and specific combinations are used to evoke the most potent emotions or paint the most vivid pictures within the space allowed. It’s one of the things I love about poetry; the puzzle of specific words and beats.

I also think a more self-conscious use of space is intrinsic to literary novels. So much of what is said resides between the lines, in the subtext. Off the page. 

Jen:  In middle school, I chose Spring and Fall: To A Young Child by Gerard Manley Hopkins as a poem to memorize and recite. It’s still one of my favorites, and I was excited to see it as the epigraph for your book. Can you tell us a little bit about the relationship between you, this poem and your book?

Emily: Oh, this haunting, universal, emotionally-evocative poem. It’s lovely to find another who loves it like I do.

To me, this poem symbolizes every truth in life we rail against, whatever those may be, because we just can’t bear for x to be true.   

That things end. Seasons. Relationships. Love. Life.  

It’s human nature to rail. To dig in our heels and say no! And if there’s any balm to be found in the truths we’d rather not embrace, it’s that we get better at acceptance with time and experience. With wisdom comes the bigger picture, which can bring comfort. With endings come new beginnings; the hardest part is letting go. Only an empty hand can be filled.

Jen: I’ve read in an interview you did with your critique partner that you recently finished a new novel, D22go. If you’re not superstitious, will you tell us a little bit about that one – that title is super-cryptic!

Emily: I’m not superstitious in that way, but I’d like to keep this idea close, because original ideas are hard to come by.

However, I think it’s going to be the novel I wrote directly before If You Find Me that I’ll be publishing next. But there will be a next novel, and I’m so excited to be able to continue to do what I love, and as an extension, continue to find beauty in the unlikeliest of places and share it with everyone.

Jen: Thanks again for taking the time to answer my questions, Emily. I can’t wait to read your new book!

Emily: Thanks for having me, truly. You really put my brain cells to work, and I had a wonderful time chatting with you! 

 Be sure to check out all the other stops on the tour, which include Emily's very moving kick-off post, plus other guest posts, interviews and more!

If You Find Me Tour Stops:

3/18  The Midnight Garden
3/19  Alluring Reads
3/20  Live to Read 
3/21  YA Romantics
3/22  Winterhaven Books
3/23  Once Upon a Prologue
3/24  Hobbitsies
3/25  ExLibris Kate
3/26  Xpresso Reads
3/27  Bookish
3/28  Great Imaginations
3/29  Good Books and Good Wine

Now, enter to win a copy of this amazing book. I'll draw the winner on Monday, April 1.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


22 comments:

  1. Everytime I see a stop in this blog tour, I want to read this book more and more. I believe there is a trip to the bookstore in my very near future! : )

    In other news, your interview rocked! Such great questions. And Emily Murdoch's answers only solidified my interest in her books! Yes, definitely heading to the store on Tuesday!

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    1. Aw, thanks. It's sometimes hard to think of interview questions, but this book made it easy. I had dozens!!

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  2. Very insightful interview, Jen! Love that you broached the page count question to the author, as well. Inquiring minds want to know this stuff! I can't wait to read this book...it's everywhere and I've loved everything I've seen about it.

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    1. You'll love it, I'm sure. Now that you are branching out to realistic YA fiction ;)

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  3. These really were great questions-I am especially pleased to learn that this book is a tight 256 pages as that makes it much more likely I'll pick it up!

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    1. Yes! Not every book has to be 500 pages. I think you'll really like this one.

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  4. What a great interview!! I am looking forward to getting back to this book. From what I read so far I am really liking it and it's getting such awesome reviews!!

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    1. The book just gets better and better. Can't wait until you finish!

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  5. I love this interview, Jen--such insightful and thought-provoking questions! I learned a little bit more about Emily while I read it. :) Thanks for being part of the tour!

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  6. Such wonderful questions to ask! I love what the author said about wanting the novel to be a this versus that. Thanks for sharing! :)

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  7. Fabulous post!!! I just adored this interview. Emily is such a sweetie!

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    1. Thanks so much -- she was a pleasure to interview!

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  8. What a wonderful stop this has been! All of you are toot sweets for life!

    Thank you, Jen, for making today special, and my tour stop special, and my debut special. I'll never forget it.

    Your questions were amazing. *Thank you*. <3

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    1. Thanks for answering the questions -- I'm looking forward to the rest of the tour!

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  9. What a great interview. I love when a writer can keep a story somewhat short and tight. I really do need to read this book.

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  10. What a fantastic interview. I really felt like I got to know this author, I had no idea she was also a poet. And how cool that there was a connection between you two with that poem:) Nice job, Jen!

    I had no idea Wendy and The Midnight Garden did blog tours! Awesome:)

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  11. Great interview! Very curious about this book now!

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  12. This book sounds really good. I love the concept of all the opposites throughout the book. And I agree with Emily--very smart questions, Jen! You're such a professional! :)

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  13. Juxtaposition is one of my favorite literary elements, so I'm super interested now!

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