April 15, 2011

A Cornucopia of Dystopia: Interview with Angie Smibert

I'm happy to welcome Angie Smibert to the blog today for an interview about her novel Memento Nora!

Here's the blurb from her website:

"Nora, the popular girl and happy consumer, witnesses a horrific bombing on a shopping trip with her mother. In Nora’s near-future world, terrorism is so commonplace that she can pop one little white pill to forget and go on like nothing ever happened. However, when Nora makes her first trip to a Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic, she learns what her mother, a frequent forgetter, has been frequently forgetting. Nora secretly spits out the pill and holds on to her memories. The memory of the bombing as well as her mother’s secret and her budding awareness of the world outside her little clique make it increasingly difficult for Nora to cope. She turns to two new friends, each with their own reasons to remember, and together they share their experiences with their classmates through an underground comic. They soon learn, though, they can’t get away with remembering."

And now for the questions...

1.)  I really enjoyed the distinctive voices of the three teens Nora, Winter and Micah. Why did you decide to tell the story from three different points of view? Which one was the most difficult to write?

Thanks! Actually, I wrote the first draft solely from Nora’s point of view. However, I realized she didn’t know the whole story. And I liked the idea of presenting the reader with three takes on what was going on, and the reader could put the whole picture together—better than the characters do.  Winter was probably a little more difficult to write since she sees the world so differently.

2.)  Adults play a fairly prominent role in Memento Nora, which is a bit unusual in YA novels. Was this a conscious choice on your part? How did you decide to balance the importance of the teens’ and adults’ roles?

It wasn’t really a conscious choice. The story needed the adults. Nora’s relationship with her mother is a key part of her motivation. I don’t want to give anything away, but let’s just say I had what happens in the very end in mind from the beginning. More or less. ;)

3.)  Most medications have some side effects. What, if any, are the side effects of the forgetting pill?

That’s an interesting question. How about sleep shopping? Ambien or one of those sleeping pills has the potential side effect of sleep cooking. (No kidding.) So why not  shopping in your sleep?

4.)  If you had to choose between completely erasing the best memory of your life, or having to remember the worst one every single day, which would you choose and why?

That’s tough. I’d keep the best one, which hopefully would balance out the worst one.  I think you need the bad to appreciate the good anyway.

5.)  It’s often the case that a particular medication doesn’t work equally well for everyone. Are there any people who might be less susceptible to the forgetting pill, and if so, what qualities would make them so?

I play around with this idea (sort of) with next phase of the pill in the sequel.  Let’s just say different people with different brain chemistries aren’t as susceptible to this new thing.

6.)  You’ve just been to the Therapeutic Forgetting Centre for the first time, taken the pill and lost a memory. What do you spend your 500 points on?

Hmm, 500 points doesn’t actually get you much. I think movies were 100 points, so I’d see a movie (or two) and subsidize my caffeine habit for a week or two. 

Thanks very much for taking the time to answer my questions, Angie! 

If you'd like to read my review of Memento Nora, go here.


  1. Great interview questions! I especially liked how you asked about the side effects of the pill :)

  2. Wow, I didn't know that sleeping pills had a side effect of sleep cooking. I wonder how the food tastes ...


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