October 3rd marks the publication date for Printz Award winner Meg Rosoff’s newest release, Picture Me Gone, in the U.S. The book, “about the relationship between parents and children, love and loss,” has recently been been longlisted for The National Book Award! (Go, Meg!)
We’re so pleased Meg is with us today to tell us more about it in this Take Five interview.
Q: What’s the premise of your new book?
Meg: An English father and his daughter fly to NY state to look for the father’s best friend — who’s left his wife and young child with no explanation.
Q: What would you like people to know about the story itself?
Meg: It had a funny genesis — I hadn’t been writing for ages, and then I figured I’d better convince my publisher I was working, so I wrote a blog about the main character of my “new book”, which didn’t exist. I called her Mila. But there was no “new book.” A couple of months later, when I was really starting to panic and hadn’t written a single word, I took my dogs to the Heath as usual, and a cute little dog ran up to me, all friendly, and when I looked at its tag, it turned out the dog was called “Mila.” I figured it was god telling me to get to work, and I went home that day and wrote the first line — “I was named after a dog….” And then suddenly whole book was in my head. I love it when that happens. Ie, once. It’ll obviously never happen again.
Q: What do your characters have to overcome in this story? What challenge do you set before them?
Meg: I never consciously set challenges for my characters, but in this book the challenge was part of the premise: figure out why Matthew left home. Was he a child molester or a murderer or a gambler or or or….WHY? I had no idea for ages and ages. Of course the real challenges kind of emerge in the writing — the subtle psychological ones that tell you what the book was really about. I never really know what the book is going to be about until it’s finished.
Q: What unique challenges did this book pose for you, if any?
Meg: The biggest problem was the mystery at the centre of Picture Me Gone — a man who disappears — just leaves home, leaves his wife and baby behind, and we don’t know why. I didn’t know why either, and kept waiting for the book to tell me as I wrote draft after draft. Sometimes writing really is a question of holding your nerve and trusting your book to produce the goods. But it doesn’t always work. This time it did.
Q: What has been the most rewarding aspect of having written this book?
Meg: Picture Me Gone flowed out like music, which is in marked contrast to the last few books I’ve written — particularly There Is No Dog, which was a real #$!!?*$@ of a book to write. Because it didn’t cause me huge pain and thousands of sleepless nights, I have a particular soft spot in my heart for it. Also, my husband says it’s my best book yet, and it’s always nice to know you’re not getting worse as time goes on.