Interview: Meg Mitchell Moore – The Arrivals

Thank you Ms. Moore for taking time to talk to us.

Thank you for having me!

Rhodes Review: What inspired the story of The Arrivals?

Meg Mitchell Moore:: I started writing this book in March 2008. The year before that, I had written a big chunk of a novel that was very different, except for the setting of Burlington, Vt. That book was about a man whose daughter died unexpectedly, leaving her two young children in his care for a summer. For several reasons that book really wasn’t working, but I still felt strongly about the themes of grandparents and adult children leaning on their parents. I started thinking about a different way to enter that story, and I came up with the characters of Ginny (the mother) and Lillian (the eldest Owen child). Ginny was originally the sister of the grandfather in the other story. I thought it would be interesting to have two grandparent-age siblings dealing with having their grandchildren around for very different reasons. The first scene in the new book came very quickly, and I could tell by then that the tone and my sense of the story had shifted dramatically. I had somebody read twenty pages that still included some of the old book, and that person (who had no history of the origins of the project) pointed out that the part with the two young children who had lost their mother didn’t seem to fit with the rest of it. Suddenly, the new characters and story were a lot more alive and more interesting to me than the old characters and story had ever been. Once I was able to admit I was now writing a whole new book and not just a revision to the other one I was able to focus and keep the tone more consistent throughout, and I was able to explore themes that I know from my conversations and friendships with other mothers of young children to be very relevant.

Rhodes Review: Have you always wanted to write?

Meg Mitchell Moore:: I have! The next question addresses the background so I won’t go into that here.

Rhodes Review: Can you tell our readers a little about your background?

Meg Mitchell Moore:: After college I got a master’s degree in English Literature, thinking I wanted to go into academia. I decided after the master’s degree not to pursue a PhD and I became more interested in journalism. I eventually got a job as a copyeditor at a group of technology magazines in Massachusetts, and after some time there I became an editor, then a writer. After three years there I left to become a freelance writer, which I did for several years. My kids were born during this time so the amount of work I took on fluctuated with the amount of child care, etc. I started really concentrating on the fiction in about 2008, which was when I began the first draft of The Arrivals.

Rhodes Review: What is your writing process like?

Meg Mitchell Moore:: It’s sort of a mess. I have now written two novels (the second will come out next year) and it was no easier the second time around. I usually try to get a first draft out in a reasonable amount of time–less than a year–and then I spend months revising, often undoing a chunk of the original draft. I would love to be a writer who plots ahead of time, always knows what’s going to happen, etc., but so far that hasn’t happened. Though I have heard somewhere that if you don’t surprise yourself while you’re writing you won’t surprise the reader.

Rhodes Review: What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Meg Mitchell Moore:: Learn as much as you can from people who know more, remain humble as you’re learning, read the people who write the sort of thing you want to write, try to learn from rejection without letting it crush you, and settle in for a long ride.

Rhodes Review: How did you decide to move from journalist to novelist?

Meg Mitchell Moore:: I have always enjoyed both. I think the two naturally feed on each other. I wasn’t consciously giving up journalism for fiction but because of timing (a bad freelance economy coupled with the sale of my novel) that sort of happened. I haven’t written any nonfiction lately and I miss it. I would like to go back to doing both sometime.

Rhodes Review: If you couldn’t write, what would you want to do?

Meg Mitchell Moore:: I’m not much good at anything else!

Rhodes Review: What are your follow up plans?

Meg Mitchell Moore:: My second novel will come out next year around this time; The Arrivals was part of a two-book deal. This summer I hope to begin writing a third novel.

Rhodes Review: What was the publising process like for that first novel?

Meg Mitchell Moore:: A learning experience, to be sure. There was so much I didn’t know about the process, from what goes into choosing a cover to how books are marketed and sold to different stores to how much first-time novelists need to do to promote themselves through social media. I feel like I’m still learning about the process every day.

Rhodes Review: Who are some of your favorite authors/novels?

Meg Mitchell Moore:: There are so many! I love Elin Hilderbrand. I am a big Kate Atkinson fan. I can’t wait for Elizabeth Strout to come out with something new. One of my favorite books of the year was A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. I am consistently blown away by anything—anything—Alice Munro writes. I just started Faith by Jennifer Haigh, which I love already as I have loved all of her books. I love Virginia Woolf. John Updike. Ann Patchett. I could go on forever but I’ll stop there.

Thank you again Ms. Moore for taking the time to talk to us, and letting our readers know a little about you. Ms. Moore will be dropping by to visit sometime on the 29th, so if you have any questions. Feel free to leave them.

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3 Responses to “Interview: Meg Mitchell Moore – The Arrivals”

  1. Rhodes Review - Review Section Says:

    […] copies. The giveaway is located here. Also be sure and drop in and see our interview with Ms. Moore here and ask some questions if you want. She’s dropping by and may answer […]

  2. Meg Moore Says:

    Thanks so much for the great interview questions and for participating in the blog tour for THE ARRIVALS.

  3. Kathleen Kern Says:

    I love this book! Although I am not sure it was the author’s intent, it left me motivated to be more alive to the experiences of my children as they develop and as they sometimes get seem stuck. I feel like the perspective of Ginny gave me the insight to embrace every moment and to understand how quickly this wonderful time of having young children will pass. I can not wait for the second novel.