How did you come up with the concept for Memento Nora?
The idea came from current research in the area of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I read a few articles about researchers using drugs to lessen the impact of traumatic memories on PTSD sufferers. (The idea looks promising, btw.) I took it a step further. My drug would erase the memory—and be available at little Starbuck’s / frozen yogurt-style places on every corner.
How did this evolve from a short story?
I wrote the short story, “Memento Nora,” for Odyssey magazine (June 2008 issue). The short story is about Nora’s first trip to TFC. After the story appeared, I started thinking about what Nora would have done after spitting out the pill. I did have to frame the novel a little differently than the short story (as well as introduce other points of view), but the first two chapters are essentially the same as the short story.
Is there an inspiration behind Winter’s art?
Several. I have some of Winter’s inspirations on my book site (http://www.mementonora.com/inspirations/winters-garden). They include actual kinetic sculptures and a Honda Accord ad. Also, my great uncle was an artist. I only met him a few times, but I have this distinct memory of a Rube Goldberg device he’d built in his basement (or maybe it was his garden). A Rube Goldberg device is one of those machines that takes 55 steps to do something really simple like make toast. (The Honda ad, btw, is a Rube Goldberg device.) That’s what gave me the idea to make all of her kinetic sculptures work together to achieve something.
Why have the main characters of Memento Nora create a comic book?
Since everything digital is so tightly controlled and monitored in Nora’s world, they needed a creative, low tech way of fighting back. And comics have a long history of being subversive. Artists / writers put out underground comics in the 60’s and 70’s, often just using a pen, paper, and mimeograph or ditto machine.
What are some of your favorite comic books (if you have any)?
I’m not a hardcore comic book / graphic novel fan, but I do have a few favorites. The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman. (Anything actually by Neil Gaiman.) Maus by Art Spiegelman. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.
What was high school like for you?
Oh, I was a bit of nerd—with some streaks of the inner rebel. I was in dorky things like the Latin Club and the National Honor society. I was also an editor of the school newspaper. I listened to punk and new wave music. I didn’t really fit neatly into one clique, but I had friends in most of them.
And I read a lot. I discovered science fiction and fantasy in early high school. One of my favorites at the time was Dune by Frank Herbert. I probably read it a few times. Also, I loved the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
How many rejections did you get on your current book before you found a publisher or agent?
Technically, three. I submitted Memento Nora to three editors and one agent who’d been on panels at a SCBWI Mid-Atlantic conference I attended. The agent turned me down right away. I never heard back from one of the editors. The other two asked for the full manuscript, and my lovely editor at Marshall Cavendish bought it.