Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Author Interview: Angie Smibert (and Giveaway)

As part of the A Cornucopia of Dystopia event held by Casey from The Bookish Type and Danya from A Tapestry of Words, Angie Smibert, the author of Memento Nora, is here today to answer some of my questions. 

A bit about Angie (as quoted from her website): I was born in Blacksburg, a once sleepy college town in the mountains of Southwest Virginia. I grew up thinking I wanted to be a veterinarian; organic chemistry had other ideas. But I always had stories in my head. Eventually, after a few degrees and few cool jobs - including a 10-year stint at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center - I wrote some of those stories down. I’ve published many short stories, for both adults and teens. My first novel, MEMENTO NORA, will be hitting the shelves in April 1, 2011.

What was the inspiration behind Memento Nora?
The story grew out of a question (or series of questions, really). I was reading about some current research into post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). (Yes, I am a geek.) Scientists are testing drugs to help break the grip that traumatic memories have on PTSD sufferers. The drug in the study helped the memories fade into more “normal” memories. I asked myself what if the drug actually erased those memories - and what if you could get that drug as easily as you could a skinny vanilla latte. I started building the story, the world, and the characters from that point.

Art plays an important role in the lives of Nora, Micah and Winter. Do you have a background in art and what type of art is your favourite?
Nope. I’m no artist, but I’ve hung out (or worked with) many.  My favorite type? I’m fond of impressionist painters - and kinetic sculpture. Really, I like an art that speaks to you in some way.

To remember their stories, the kids all create a comic book. What do you think is the appeal of graphic novels? Oh, and if you do you read a lot of graphic novels yourself, what is your favourite book/series?
I chose for them to do a comic because underground comics have a long history of being subversive. In the 60’s and 70’s, for instance, artists and writers put out political (and other) comics just using pen, paper, and mimeograph (or other type of duplicating machine).  I think graphic novels and comics are engaging and accessible yet the powers-that-be might not take them very seriously. That allows the writer/artist to say a lot. One of my favorite graphic novels - Maus by Art Spiegelman - started out in an underground comic magazine. The graphic novel is only one ever to win a Pulitzer.

How much research did you have to do to figure out how the pill would work?
I did do a fair bit of research. In fact, Memento Nora started out as a short story that appeared in Odyssey, which is teen / tween science magazine. So I had to get the science right.

From the three characters of Nora, Winter and Micah, which one is your favourite and which one are you most like?
It’s not fair to make me pick a favorite! Okay, I will admit I have a soft spot for Winter. I wouldn’t say, though, I’m really more like one character than another. Every writer puts a little bit of themselves in each character.  However, I will say that I wouldn’t have been in Nora’s clique in high school. 


A huge thank you to Angie for taking the time to answer my questions! Oh, and for those of you who want to read Memento Nora, I have an ARC of it to give away.

So, read the rules below, and then fill out this FORM:
  1. This giveaway is US/Canada only! 
  2. You do not have to be a follower to enter.
  3. You must be over the age of 13.
  4. This giveaway will end on April 18, 2011 at 11:59 PM.
  5. I am going to be picky about making sure your entries are tallied correctly. Save me some time and you won't feel my wrath ;)


  1. Fun interview! I studied quite a bit of art history in college, and the impressionists were always particular favorites of mine as well.I really loved the concept of this book too, it make me keep thinking about it long after I finished reading:)

  2. Interesting inspiration. I guess that kind of thing would be perfect for PTSD sufferers. I don't know about the average person though. I would think that it is from some of our bad memories that we learn and grow as people so I personally wouldn't want to take a pill to get rid of those.

  3. Having a psych background, I find it really intriguing that the inspiration for Memento Nora came out of PTSD drug research. Now I want to know more about what sorts of studies have been conducted...

  4. You may find this blog post interesting - it discusses a study in which PTSD memories were, not erased, but made less traumatic by getting the experimental subjects to play Tetris after the traumatic event occurred. (Interestingly enough, another game, Pub Quiz, actually appeared to make the memories worse...)

  5. Very informative interview. I love that she did a fair amount of research for this novel.

  6. The idea of taking a pill to make you forget, even bad memories, just sounds so scary. I don't think it would be as easy as just erasing the bad ones. You might lose some of the good ones as well. Very interesting premise for the story, and it's neat that the author incorporated science and comics. I'm also curious about this Winter character, aside from the unusual name, I think it is really saying something if the author has a soft spot for him.

  7. Authors always have interesting lives and it seems as if Angie is no exception! I love the idea for her novel!

  8. What an interesting idea for a storyline! And no fair asking her favorite character! That's like asking a parent which is their favorite kid! :)

  9. I'm so excited about this book! I love the premise. Great interview, too. Love how she took her work and the things she'd studied and built her story from all of that. It's amazing how much the things you come across can influence your writing.

  10. What a cool way to twist drug research into a book idea. I am very interested to see how it turns out!

  11. Great interview! this book sounds so interesting, I definitely need to pick it up soon!

  12. Thanks for doing this interview and giveaway. I've been on a dystopia reading binge lately. And I love it. Just love the whole idea of the Cornucopia of Dystopia event. What a fantastic idea! Can't wait to read Memento Nora.



I love comments and will reply back via either email or stopping by your blog. Please note that this is an award-free zone.