Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Author Chat: Emily Bain Murphy, The Disappearances

Emily Bain Murphy grew up in Indiana, Hong Kong, and Tokyo, and has also called Massachusetts and Connecticut home.

She loves books, Japanese karaoke, exploring new cities, and anything with Nutella. Her debut YA fantasy, THE DISAPPEARANCES, will be published by HMH Books for Young Readers and Pushkin Press in 2017.

She currently lives in San Francisco with her family and is at work on her second novel. (taken from Emily's website)

Did you always know you wanted to publish a novel? 

Yes! I grew up abroad and moved around a lot, so I found such comfort in the constant worlds of my favorite books. My favorite class was always writing, and I have this distinct memory of writing stories in third grade holed up under this little alcove and then binding my books and reading them to my class in Hong Kong. I always dreamed of publishing a novel and sometimes it still catches me off-guard that such a long-held dream is coming true this year.

Besides writing or reading, what is your favorite hobby? 

I love traveling, finding new little hole-in- the-wall restaurants, singing Japanese karaoke with friends (private-room- style—I’m way too shy to get up in front of a crowd), walking around and finding little moments of beauty that I post on Instagram (@ebmwrites) with the tag #FindBeautyEverywhere. And visiting bakeries is something I do regularly enough to probably qualify as a hobby.

How did you select the names of your characters?  

Aila (pronounced ae-luh in THE DISAPPEARANCES) means “light bearer” or “bringer of light.” I wanted a name that was meaningful but not terribly common, and I thought it was so beautiful. For most of the names, I just liked the way they looked on the page or sounded on my tongue; but unless a name just pops into my head, I’ll spend some time searching through baby name blogs until one sticks or I like its meaning. For instance, Aila’s mother Juliet has more ties to Shakespearean works than just her name…. but you’ll have to read the book for the rest of that story.

What kind of research did you have to do in order to write The Disappearances

I spent so many hours on research for this book, and I really enjoyed it! I spent months looking into literary works from Shakespeare to Keats to Dickinson; studying herb encyclopedias and creepy behavior about birds; and researching style, language, and advertisements from the 1940's. I also interviewed my grandfather, who was stationed in the Pacific on a U.S. naval ship during WWII. I got so many great details from talking to him—for instance, when his ship stopped at a pineapple factory in Hawaii and they could get pineapple juice from spigots straight out of the wall. I slipped a few of his anecdotes into the book and that felt really special to me.

What is your writing kryptonite? Does anything give you writer's block? 

My kryptonite is definitely if I start focusing too much on what other people might think or try to please everyone. But my writing time is pretty coveted, so I am usually happy to get a couple of uninterrupted hours to sit down and work. I write what makes me feel excited and alive and hopeful. If I’m really stuck, I’ll read a few chapters of someone else’s beautiful writing or look at pictures on Instagram or Pinterest until I want to write again—and it always helps to bribe myself a little with a cup of hot coffee and a berry scone.

What book are you currently reading in your spare time?
I’m reading STRANGE THE DREAMER right now and it is so beautiful and ethereal and everything I wanted from Laini Taylor. I also just finished DEAR MARTIN by Nic Stone, which was stunning in a completely different way, and I highly recommend it.

About Emily's new release, which hits shelves TODAY:

What if the ordinary things in life suddenly…disappeared?

Aila Quinn’s mother, Juliet, has always been a mystery: vibrant yet guarded, she keeps her secrets beyond Aila’s reach. When Juliet dies, Aila and her younger brother Miles are sent to live in Sterling, a rural town far from home--and the place where Juliet grew up.

Sterling is a place with mysteries of its own. A place where the experiences that weave life together--scents of flowers and food, reflections from mirrors and lakes, even the ability to dream--vanish every seven years.

No one knows what caused these “Disappearances,” or what will slip away next. But Sterling always suspected that Juliet Quinn was somehow responsible--and Aila must bear the brunt of their blame while she follows the chain of literary clues her mother left behind.

As the next Disappearance nears, Aila begins to unravel the dual mystery of why the Disappearances happen and who her mother truly was. One thing is clear: Sterling isn’t going to hold on to anyone's secrets for long before it starts giving them up. (taken from goodreads.com)