Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Release Date: January 26th 2016
Rebecca Podos’ debut is a powerful, affecting story of the pieces of ourselves that remain mysteries even to us – the desperate search through empty spaces for something to hold on to.
Where did the idea for The Mystery of Hollow Places come from?
The idea actually sprung from my day job as a YA and MG literary agent, where I was on the hunt for a mystery. I’ve always adored the genre, in part because, as Imogene says, you know that whatever burning questions you have, they’ll be answered if you just hang in there till the last page. That’s such a satisfying narrative, when you think about it! So then, I got obsessed with an even more specific idea: a detective who truly believes in that comforting narrative structure, to the point where she uses it as a guide to navigate her own story. But as she goes along, real life intrudes, challenging what she thinks she knows about mysteries and about herself as well. And because I’d fallen in love with this pretty particular idea, in the end, I thought I’d write the book myself. So that’s what I tried to do.
Were there alternate titles for your book? If so, which were they, and why did you settle on The Mystery of Hollow Places?
I got really lucky, and it will probably never happen again, but the book has had the same title from the very first chapter. I wanted it to sound like a classic Nancy Drew mystery, but also to hint at the pretty unsolvable mystery at the heart of the book.
Do you have a schedule to write or do you write whenever you have ideas or motivation?
I’m pretty unstructured. My day job is variable, in that sometimes I’m agenting from 8—4, and sometimes from 4 pm—midnight. So it’s hard to decide that I’ll sit down to type every morning after breakfast. When I get an idea or get really motivated, I make the time. But I like that I have to write around my other responsibilities, because I understand myself well enough to know that if writing every day was guaranteed, I would start taking that time for granted.
What was the hardest thing about writing The Mystery of Hollow Places?
The hardest part, honestly, was convincing myself that any reader out there would want to hear what I had to say! Hollow Places is about a lot of my particular concerns and fascinations—atypical family dynamics, complex female friendships, mental illness, the conventions of mystery—so it was pretty easy to stop typing, lean back and think “Who cares about this stuff besides me?” By now, I think I’ve figured out that most every writer feels this way at one point, and all we can do is write the story that we have inside us.
Do you have any plans for your next book that you’re willing to share?
I do! I’m really excited about my next project, which I’ve just finished the first draft of. It’s a contemporary with LGBTQ romance, tiny New Mexican ghost towns, and performing mermaids. If Hollow Places is about loneliness, then this book is about feeling trapped. It’s about the snares life sets for us and the kind we set for ourselves, and about believing someway, somehow, that we’re strong enough to climb out of them.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
I advise that when you do, inevitably, sit back and think “Who cares about any of this stuff besides me?” to remind yourself over and over again that somebody does. There’s somebody out there, probably a lot of somebodies, who need the story that you have inside you.
Rebecca Podos’ debut YA novel, THE MYSTERY OF HOLLOW PLACES, is forthcoming from Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins) on 1/26/16. A graduate of the Writing, Literature and Publishing program at Emerson College where she won the M.F.A. Award for Best Thesis, her fiction has been published in Glimmer Train, Glyph, CAJE, Paper Darts, Bellows American Review, and Smokelong Quarterly. Past Awards include the Helman Award for Short Fiction, the David Dornstein Memorial Creative Writing Prize for Young Adult Writers, and the Hillerman-McGarrity Scholarship for Creative Writing. She works as a YA and MG agent at the Rees Literary Agency in Boston.
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