Blog Tour: The Memory Book Q&A with Lara Avery

Friday, July 8, 2016

 Hi Everyone!

I have an exciting post for you today! I had the opportunity to team up with Hannah with Irish Blog Tours and as a result, to do a Q&A with Lara Avery, author of The Memory Book! Not only do I get to help with getting the word out about this book, but I also got some insight about what inspires her and this book. 
 Tune in for more details below:
How did you become a novelist and how long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing in a journal since I was seven or eight, but didn’t take myself seriously as a writer until college. That was also where I knew, if anything, I was more of a novelist than a short story writer. In all the creative writing courses I took, I always found myself wanting to expand the worlds and take the characters further, and I guess I never knew when to stop.
I wrote a fifty-or-so page “excerpt” of a novel for one of my senior theses about my time playing basketball in middle school. Around the same time, someone told me about Alloy, and how they work with writers to develop concepts and plot. I thought it sounded like a wonderful way to learn the art of novel structure, and how to collaborate with editors. Since I had a YA story, I figured I would send in the senior thesis as a sample of what I could do. I did not expect to hear back.
But I did! And here we are, making books together six years later.
What is your writing process? Do you have a daily routine?
My process is not set in stone, but little by little it solidifies as I get older. Unfortunately I can’t afford a life (yet) where I can have a daily routine unless I don't sleep or eat, and I gotta do those things. *shrug* This is just the reality of paying taxes and student loans. I have to work two or more jobs, take freelance gigs, and commute long hours on the bus and trains to get to work.
So my routine is I write when I can! I found I am most successful when I can write for long periods of time without being interrupted, really lose myself in the work. When I am free for eight or so hours at a time, I love to take coffee and a (hidden) tupperware of food to the public library and write from open until close, taking breaks to walk around the shelves and the building.  

What inspired you to write this book and in this way?
Before I go into that, a bit of background: The Memory Book features a main character with Niemann Pick Type C, which is a real disease. Though its effect on memory does involve some of what Sammie experiences, The Memory Book is not medically accurate. Sammie’s version of this disease serves to tell a story, and does not reflect the reality of a majority of NPC patients. I highly encourage you to research more for yourself, and find out more about the incredible families who live with NPC.
For my part, as I said, I was drawn to the memory aspect, specifically what would happen to someone who lost their memories before they had much of a chance to build them up. This was an especially emotional process, as I’ve watched three grandparents suffer through dementia, and by the way my family’s gene pool is laid out, it’s likely my parents might have the same fate, and myself and my brothers as well.
Before I ever knew the way memories could affect you--when I was a kid, that is--I documented my life in great detail in my own weird ways. I went through heartbreak, loneliness, joy, imaginary lands, the understanding of who I was and what I believed in, by writing about it. So it came really natural to write in a journal style.
And in doing that, this book became about Sammie trying to harness the power of the memories at her core, the memories she wouldn’t even think about on any given day. When she felt like she was losing control of her body (and hey, like anyone does at her age, whether they have a disease or not) she could at least control her story. She could gain access to something no one could take from her.

How did your characters for this book come about and did you enjoy creating them?
Many friends will recognize their names and characteristics in The Memory Book! I love putting in those little Easter eggs and waiting for the texts and emails from people I haven’t heard from in awhile being like, “Um, was that me? Because I’m pretty sure that was me.”
But for the most part, the characters grew out of the setting. A strangely large fraction of people I’ve been close to in life, including my current best friend, are originally from where the book is set in the Upper Valley, a lush part of the Green Mountains that includes parts of New Hampshire and Vermont. A few parts of Sammie’s story include parts of my best friend’s high school life: being from the tiny town of Strafford, working her way into Hanover High, being studious and ambitious.
Stuart was based off of a few different dudes. Macalester was a very international school, and I developed crushes on all the suave, artistic guys who went to boarding school. Also, his last name is actually the name of a family who I stayed with in my time in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. (Hi, Rushir!)
Maddie is based on a few different women, but mostly she is just a lot of the girl I wish I was when I was her age: confident, wears her heart on her sleeve, comfortable in her own skin.
Another friend of mine will no doubt see himself in Coop (and in the most lovable way). From the Carhartt pants to the bro-ish silliness to the joint behind his ear.
Finally, is there a question that you wish an interviewer would ask that you’ve never been asked and how would you answer said question?
Q: What the hecky tuna?!
A: There is no good answer to this question. Once I heard one of my friend’s kids say, What the hecky tuna? after a balloon popped, and I use it whenever I can. It is the best way to exclaim wonder and/or astonishment.
Thanks for the interview, HSBoM! Love this blog. xoxoxo

Thank you Lara! 

They tell me that my memory will never be the same, that I'll start forgetting things. At first just a little, and then a lot. So I'm writing to remember.

Sammie was always a girl with a plan: graduate at the top of her class and get out of her small town as soon as humanly possible. Nothing will stand in her way--not even a rare genetic disorder the doctors say will slowly start to steal her memories and then her health. What she needs is a new plan.

So the Memory Book is born: Sammie's notes to her future self, a document of moments great and small. It's where she'll record every perfect detail of her first date with longtime crush, Stuart--a brilliant young writer who is home for the summer. And where she'll admit how much she's missed her childhood best friend, Cooper, and even take some of the blame for the fight that ended their friendship.

Through a mix of heartfelt journal entries, mementos, and guest posts from friends and family, readers will fall in love with Sammie, a brave and remarkable girl who learns to live and love life fully, even though it's not the life she planned.

Lara Avery takes her role as a young writer very seriously; she enjoys wandering the world notebook in hand, making her living off of odd jobs. One of those jobs happens to be publishing the novel Anything But Ordinaryjust two years after getting a degree in Film Studies from Macalester College.
When Lara left home armed with nothing but a basketball scholarship, she told everyone she was going to law school. Then, when she started interning at The Onion and publishing pieces of fiction in national anthologies, she realized her secret plans to be a writer all along.
Though Lara sat down to write Anything But Ordinary everywhere from a 110 degree apartment in Kolkata to a hostel in Berlin, she always felt at home in Bryce’s story. Writing currently from St. Paul, MN, she hopes her debut novel will be the first of many.

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Happy Reading!  


  1. Awesome interview! I love these posts to get to know the writer. Hecky tuna! Hilarious!

    1. Right?! :) It made me laugh too! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. This book looks so good. Great interview too! I love that the author was inspired by real memory losing diseases. Those are sad but very real.

  3. It was a very good book! I just finished it this last week. :) I hope you get a chance to pick it up.