Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Madeleine Roux Interview - The Book of Living Secrets

Photo Content from Madeleine Roux

MADELEINE ROUX is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Asylum series, which has sold over a million copies worldwide. She is also the author of the House of Furies series, and several titles for adults, including Salvaged and Reclaimed. She has made contributions to Star Wars, World of Warcraft, and Dungeons & Dragons. Madeleine lives in Seattle, Washington with her partner and beloved pups.


Greatest thing you learned at school.
This is probably a counterintuitive answer, but the best thing I learned—in college, specifically—is that finding your path in publishing will be your responsibility. I had to go looking on my own, do research, ask questions, and learn all about getting an agent, querying, etc. I try hard in my professional life to be open about the process and where to find resources, but ultimately, it’s something you must want badly enough to go looking. Nobody is going to completely hold your hand through the steps of drafting, editing, querying or self-publishing, and expecting a hand hold will only slow you down and leave you disappointed.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
There are so many! Going on my first tour was certainly rewarding, but not necessarily in the way I expected. I was in the middle of a horrific breakup, my debut YA novel Asylum had just hit the NYT list out of nowhere, I had awful insomnia, and it was a group tour, so I was convinced the other authors would think I was a total fraud. As soon as I met the other women I was embraced and supported, and I made lifelong friends on that tour. It was so disarming to just be met with kindness and understanding, not a drop of snobbery. I really can’t describe how much I learned from those other authors, and how much I appreciated feeling like I was part of their world while being riddled with fear and inadequacy. Shout out Rae Carson, Mindy McGinnis, Sherry Thomas, Anna Carey, and Michelle Gagnon, absolute rockstars.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
The pandemic was hitting just as I reached the back half of my draft of The Book of Living Secrets, so that was interesting. I think Covid impacted the editing phase tremendously. So much of the book is about horrors we live with daily and find a way to cope with or ignore and entering my first pandemic certainly informed how that message is conveyed. There was so much uncertainty to confront about how we live our lives, and I have to admit that some days it was hard to justify focusing on a novel WIP when it felt like the whole world was collapsing. I ended up writing four books in 2020, though, so apparently I pushed through the distractions and despair!

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
Surprise, surprise, I think about this question all the time! The more I do this work, the more I see how we’re all just trying to lob questions out into the universe and see if we get an answer. For me, writing a book is exposing a part of myself that I wonder about, and seeing if others feel the same. There’s something deeply profound and a little sweet about spending all this time alone at your desk fussing over word choice, character arcs, and comma splices, being convinced you’ve messed up and lost your way, and then having the book come out and hearing from readers that it moved them. Stories are how we connect, how we wave at each other over a long distance and say: Hey, me too! I noticed that same weird thing! We might not be totally the same but we share this one fascination!

Can you tell us when you started THE BOOK OF LIVING SECRETS, how that came about?
The idea first bubbled up in 2019, and it was a result of how most of my YA books start—I consider what I would want to read if I was still a teen. What would resonate with me? What haven’t I seen out there yet that might be meaningful? That led me to draw on a best friend relationship I had as a teenager, the origin of which felt really tied to media we were obsessed with at the time. I wanted to try and plonk down a friendship like that, one that’s close but also fraying, in a world the girls both loved. That was the initial core of the book, watching two best friends navigate a world that’s both familiar and alien to see how it would test and change them, and that remains the core of the book today.

Your Favorite Quotes/Scenes from THE BOOK OF LIVING SECRETS
“Courage and valor.”
“A lady is not taught those things,” Orla wailed, wiping fiercely at her face.
Connie pressed the rifle into his hands with a nod. Then Caid turned to Orla and gathered her to his side. “A lady does not need to be taught those qualities,” he said. “A lady naturally possesses them.”

Meet the Characters
Adelle and Connie are the POV characters in the novel, and they anchor the story, they’re the heart and soul of the adventure. Adelle is a bundle of energy and optimism, she’s a wayward dreamer. She’s absorbed in fandom and fantasy, sometimes to her detriment. She has heterochromia, different colored eyes, which I know gives extreme Chosen One energy but that’s intentional, as a lot of those tropes are questioned and deconstructed in the book.

Connie is sort of her Wario in a lot of ways, in an Opposites Attract as friends scenario. She’s highly athletic, tall, muscular, and struggling with the way society tells girls that’s not cute or attractive. She’s an absolutely fierce young woman, academically gifted, and determined. We see her go on a journey to self-acceptance, not just with her body image but with her sexuality, too.

I don’t want to give too much away about their sidekicks and love interests in this book, since I think that veers sharply into spoiler territory.

  • There are dozens of cosmic horror Easter eggs littered throughout the book.
  • Many of the food items listed for Moira’s ball are inspired by Lincoln’s inauguration menu.
  • The description of Adelle’s bedroom is a roast of my own supremely cringe high school bedroom.
  • Moira was initially conceived as a gothic fantasy novel with angels and demons, but I decided early in the first draft that cosmic horror fit the theme better.
  • Kincaid “Caid” Vaughn was originally named Armitage “Armie” Vaughn. It was changed for obvious reasons.
  • The Witch’s Eye Emporium is inspired by a similar sort of shop in Portland called Paxton Gate. Highly recommend!
  • Mississippi and her father’s traveling show is based on the Buffalo Bill Wild West show. Victorians were obsessed with cowboys.
  • At one point, Connie is describing the future to Mississippi and mentions a woman in the White House. In the initial draft, Vice President Harris was not in office, so fortunately, in the editing phase, we got to amend that bit to include a female VP.
  • There’s a section that involves a character death in Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray. It’s one of my favorite character death scenes in a novel, just an absolutely chilling, coldblooded way to describe it.
Your Journey to Publication
My path was pretty unusual. I was finishing up a special project semester at my college, during which I had to outline, draft, and present a full length historical novel. The whole project involved a lot of meticulous research, and to take a break from writing one novel I started writing another. Healthy! So on the side I was publishing a zombie survival novel in the form of an online blog, just for fun, but it started to get some consistent readers and traction. My now agent’s brother found it via Reddit, and he recommended that she check it out. She liked what I was doing and got in touch, and we wound up turning that blog into a full length novel, and ultimately that was my first published work, Allison Hewitt Is Trapped. The blog is still up, I like to keep it there as a fun artifact for anyone who reads the book.

Writing Behind the Scenes
I tend to work quite quickly, so that requires detailed outlining and research ahead of time. I’m not saying my books don’t change as I work on them, but I have to start with an outline in order to make consistent progress. I can struggle with focus, so I like to use the Pomodoro Technique to write in bursts throughout the day. It’s a technique I recommend to anyone that finds it hard to sit and write for long stretches. I also love binaural playlists on YouTube, they help me block out distractions while I work. The time of day shifts around, but now I try to do most of my writing in the middle of the day so I’m free to hit the gym or spend time with my partner in the evenings.

What is the first job you have had?
I worked the front desk at a dry cleaner’s in my hometown. That was a uniquely sweaty experience in the summer without air conditioning!

What is your most memorable travel experience?
A few years ago I took a solo trip to New Zealand. It was absolutely incredible, life changing, and I think about going back constantly. Getting to see Hobbiton was unreal!

What's your most missed memory?
Weirdly, I really miss riding the bus to school. There was something comforting about the routine, and having a half hour or so to just curl up in a warm jacket with the heat blasting on my feet, listening to music in my headphones and daydreaming.

First Love?
Han Solo

What is one unique thing are you afraid of?
I have trypophobia, which is the fear of little clusters of holes. I have no idea where it came from or why I have it, but it freaks me out!

Perfect for fans of The Hazel Wood, this genre-bending page-turner from New York Times bestselling author Madeleine Roux follows two girls who transport themselves into the world of their favorite book only to encounter the sinister alternate reality that awaits them.

No matter how different best friends Adelle and Connie are, one thing they’ve always had in common is their love of a little-known gothic romance novel called Moira. So when the girls are tempted by a mysterious stranger to enter the world of the book, they hardly suspect it will work. But suddenly they are in the world of Moira, living among characters they’ve obsessed about for years.

Except…all is not how they remembered it. The world has been turned upside down: The lavish balls and star-crossed love affairs are now interlaced with unspeakable horrors. The girls realize that something dark is lurking behind their foray into fiction—and they will have to rewrite their own arcs if they hope to escape this nightmare with their lives.

You can purchase The Book of Living Secrets at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you MADELEINE ROUX for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of The Book of Living Secrets by Madeleine Roux.