Pen Friends ~ Today’s interview is with YA Author, Lauren Mansy, talking about her debut, The Memory Thief. From what we have heard it has incredible world building and an intriguing premise! You can still pre-order it and it will arrive on your door on when it releases on October 1st!
SP: Hi Lauren! Thanks for joining us! Before we get into book stuff, could you share a bit about you and your writing journey?
LM: Thank you so much for having me, Nova!
I’m from the western suburbs of Chicago, where work alongside my parents in our family business. In my free time, I love grabbing coffee with friends, staying active outdoors, and traveling – I have two nephews in California, so I’ll use any excuse to spend time with them! 🙂
My writing journey first began the summer after my college graduation. I’d hoped to go into children’s publishing, but my senior year, I’d been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease, a form of lymphatic cancer. I’m so thankful to say that I’ve now been cancer-free for seven years, but that was a very difficult time for me. After completing my treatments, I wasn’t healthy enough to find a job, so my parents suggested I do something creative to help in my healing process. For some reason, all I could think about was writing a book. And once I started writing, I found that I never wanted to stop! Writing fiction helped me express myself in ways that I’d never done before and helped me process through some of my most difficult memories. I’ll be forever grateful for that!
SP: The Memory Thief comes out in less than ONE WEEK!! Congrats! Here is blurb:
In the city of Craewick, memories reign. The power-obsessed ruler of the city, Madame, has cultivated a society in which memories are currency, citizens are divided by ability, and Gifted individuals can take memories from others through touch as they please.
Seventeen-year-old Etta Lark is desperate to live outside of the corrupt culture, but she grapples with the guilt of an accident that has left her mother bedridden in the city’s asylum. When Madame threatens to put her mother up for auction, a Craewick practice in which a “criminal’s” memories are sold to the highest bidder before being killed, Etta will do whatever it takes to save her. Even if it means rejoining the Shadows, the rebel group she swore off in the wake of the accident years earlier.
To rescue her mother, Etta must prove her allegiance to the Shadows by stealing a memorized map of the Maze, a formidable prison created by the bloodthirsty ruler of a neighboring Realm. Etta faces startling attacks, unexpected romance, and, above all, her own past as she uncovers a conspiracy that challenges everything she knew about herself and the world around her.
In a place where nothing is what it seems, can Etta ever become more than a memory thief?
SP: Can you tell us a bit more about how this intriguing idea came about?
LM: I’d love to! This story is actually based off a memory that I share with my mom. When I was a teenager, she was diagnosed with a heart condition, which led to an unexpected open-heart surgery. On the way to the operating room, her heart stopped six times, and the doctors warned my family that it was unlikely she’d survive. And if she did, she may not remember us due to the trauma she’d experienced throughout the ordeal.
I was sitting at her bedside when she first began to stir after her surgery, and I slipped my hand into hers and told her that it was me. Then she began to squeeze my hand three times, our signal for I love you! I’d never experienced such a deep fear suddenly overcome by the most amazing joy, and ever since then, I was struck by how memories form so much of our identity and influence our relationships. I realized that my memories were the most important things I owned, so I began to wonder … what if there was a world where memories could be passed from person to person like currency? And what kind of people would exist in a society like that? These kinds of questions led me to want to explore a world where memories reign over everything.
Though my mom’s recovery was long and difficult process, she never gave up hope that things would one day get better. Her unwavering courage inspired me to want to share this story.
SP: The Memory Thief’s world looks brilliantly thought-out and rich. Can you tell us a bit about how you do your world-building?
LM: That’s very kind of you to say, Nova! I always find it helpful to brainstorm by hand, so I filled quite a few notebooks with random thoughts and ideas when I first began writing TMT. I also enjoy creating charts and plot maps, and I’m probably a Post It Note’s biggest fan! Each “What If” question (such as “what kinds of memories would be up for auction?”) also got its own notecard, and I’d often refer back to those while brainstorming the nitty-gritty details of this society. Each Realm was also inspired by different family vacations, so those memories played a huge role in creating the Four Realms. It was fun to look back at old pictures and reminisce. I really enjoyed this part of the writing process!
SP: How was your journey to finding an agent? How did you know it was the right fit?
LM: I found my agent through querying, and I couldn’t have been more excited when Steve requested the manuscript! Steve’s philosophy on life, agenting, and publishing are all things that I really admire, and when we spoke on the phone, I was thrilled when he offered representation. It’s been a wonderful journey, and I’m incredibly grateful for his insight, advice, and encouragement. I truly can’t say enough good things about Steve!
SP: What was one thing that surprised you during your publishing journey?
LM: There have been many wonderfully surprising things about this journey! I’m constantly amazed by how supportive my family, friends, and even strangers have been throughout this process. Writing this book proved to be a source of healing that I’m very grateful to have found, and my path to publication has taught me how important “the story behind the story” can be. Though holding the final book in my hands was such a wonderful moment, it was all the memories of getting here which truly overwhelmed me. I’ve been very fortunate to work alongside many incredible people, and their passion for storytelling will stick with me long after The Memory Thiefhits shelves!
SP: Writing Tribes & Writing Habits. What are your thoughts?
LM: I think both are great! Writing can often be such a solitary activity, so to connect with others who love to craft fiction is such a wonderful feeling. I also really enjoy revising, so receiving feedback is very exciting to me. I also have a few writing habits that I love, such as coffee in my favorite mug, brainstorming by hand, and listening to movie soundtracks while I’m drafting. But I’m always up for trying new writerly things, as well – I often find switching up my routine can spark new ideas, which can be really exciting for me!
SP: Marketing your books. Can you tell us one thing that you have learned along the way?
LM: Absolutely! One piece of advice that has stuck with me is to have fun with marketing. The book community is filled with such creative and passionate individuals, and it’s been a joy to connect with readers, fellow authors, educators, librarians, industry professionals, and bookstagrammers! The relationships I’ve formed throughout this journey are one of my all-time favorite things about being a writer and the thing I’ve loved most about the marketing process, as well.
SP: There are so many fantastic writers from Chicago! What’s your favorite part about living there?
LM: Ahh so many things! It’s hard to pick one, but I’m a totally foodie, so I’m going to say the pizza! And it’s also beautiful here this time of year … there’s nothing quite like Chicago in the fall, when the leaves are turning, the air is crisp, and I’m eating a slice of my all-time favorite food 🙂
SP: Now to lighten things up:
Ultimate fictional crush?
LM: Ooo, I’m going to throw us back to a classic here, but I definitely getting a cheesy grin on my face whenever I think of Gilbert from Anne of Green Gables. He’s been my fictional crush ever since I was young, and I’ve watched the CBC movies probably a hundred times. Each time, I fall in love just a little more …
Best recent read?
LM: I loved Romanov by Nadine Brandes!
Favorite childhood book?
LM: I was all about the Chronicles of Narnia– I still am!
Favorite snack while editing?
LM: Ice cream always seems to be a wonderfully inspiring snack.
SP: Thanks so much for sharing with us, Lauren! We wish you the greatest success with The Memory Thief!
LM: Thank you, Nova!!
Nova, signing off!