Author Interview: The Memory Eater by Rebecca Mahoney

Crushed on by kelly, on April 27, 2023, in Author Interview / 0 Comments

Author Interview: The Memory Eater by Rebecca Mahoney

We are thrilled to host author Rebecca Mahoney for a short interview and to shout about her most recent release, The Memory Eater! The Memory Eater is a YA novel about grief, anxiety, and a fascinating personification of turning intrusive thoughts into literal monsters, and it’s available now!

Thank you to Books Forward – Literary Publicity for their time and the gifted finished copy of the book!

Author Interview: The Memory Eater by Rebecca Mahoney

The Memory Eater

by Rebecca Mahoney
Published by: Razorbill
on March 14, 2023
Genres: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Pages: 336

A teenage girl must save her town from a memory-devouring monster in this piercing exploration of grief, trauma, and memory, from the author of The Valley and the Flood.

For generations, a monster called the Memory Eater has lived in the caves of Whistler Beach, Maine, surviving off the unhappy memories of those who want to forget. And for generations, the Harlows have been in charge of keeping her locked up—and keeping her fed.

After her grandmother dies, seventeen-year-old Alana Harlow inherits the family business. But there’s something Alana doesn’t know: the strange gaps in her memory aren’t from an accident. Her memories have been taken—eaten. And with them, she’s lost the knowledge of how to keep the monster contained.

Now the Memory Eater is loose. Alana’s mistake could cost Whistler Beach everything—unless she can figure out how to retrieve her own memories and recapture the monster. But as Alana delves deeper into her family’s magic and the history of her town, she discovers a shocking secret at the center of the Harlow family business and learns that tampering with memories never comes without a price.

Author Interview: Rebecca Mahoney

1. Both of your books have amazing covers. What was your reaction the first time you saw them?

Honestly, my reaction was OPEN WEEPING. I have been so tremendously lucky to work with two incredible teams on these books: artist Matt Saunders and cover designer Maggie Edkins-Willins on The Valley and the Flood, and artist Justyna Hołubowska-Chrząszczak and cover designer Lori Thorn on The Memory Eater. I adore both covers so much, and I love that despite their different moods, styles, and color palettes, they look amazing next to each other on the shelf.

And I also have to shout out my imprint Razorbill here, because they’re always extremely open to cover feedback from authors. (Although both covers were so perfect from the get-go, I think the only feedback I ever had was about Alana’s curl texture!)

2. How was writing The Memory Eater similar and different than writing The Valley and the Flood?

Despite the very different processes for both books, they did end up coming together in a very similar way: both of them started as an idea I played around with for years, until I added an element relatively late in the game that ended up finally pulling everything together. For The Memory Eater, that element was actually the Memory Eater herself! And now I can’t imagine what the book would have been like without her.

The key difference between the two was that Valley was a much lengthier writing process: I had time to work on it before querying it, I did extensive revisions with my agent before sending it out, and then we ended up having a longer than usual timeline for edits with Razorbill. I still spent a lot of time on it cumulatively (a very early iteration of it was a 2014 NaNo project), but when I moved forward with it in its current form, I sold it to Razorbill based on a three chapter proposal, and it became the first book I ever wrote on a deadline. It’s always been hard in the past for me to resist the urge to self-edit as I go, and for the first time, I didn’t have any time to stress about what I’d just written. I always thought I needed to be sure of what I was going to write before I sat down, but there was so much I figured out just through the process of drafting The Memory Eater.

All that said, though? The Memory Eater‘s plot beats and pacing needed less reshuffling than any other manuscript I’ve ever worked on. So there’s something to be said for being forced to trust your instincts!

3. The Memory Eater has themes based in real life and wrapped in fantasy. What was research like for a book that explores contemporary issues within a fantastical world?

One of the most fun things about research for a piece of speculative fiction is that you get to learn about a little of everything! I tend to write a contemporary world with elements of magic (or “fabulism,”) so while I don’t have the hardcore worldbuilding of a high fantasy on my plate, I still have to establish the rules of my fantastical elements and keep them grounded with my realistic elements.

For The Memory Eater specifically, my research was mostly focused on towns with heavy tourism, especially up in Maine. I’ve been visiting southeastern Maine since I was a baby, but visiting while I was creating Whistler Beach, Maine, I paid particular attention to the names of restaurants and streets, and the kinds of businesses that thrive there by catering to tourists. I also incorporated some elements of ‘dark tourism’ into Whistler Beach: I grew up near Salem, Massachusetts, and every time I visit, I’m always struck by the dissonance of the cheery merch and terrible history behind it. Without spoiling too much, I tried to weave a bit of that dissonance into Whistler.

Other than that, I just try to make sure the characters’ emotional throughlines are grounded, even when the fantastical elements aren’t. If I can make the reader believe what the characters are feeling, hopefully I can make them believe in the rest, too!

About Rebecca Mahoney

Rebecca Mahoney is a young adult and middle grade writer, and the co-creator of audio drama serial The Bridge Podcast. She's a strong believer in the cathartic power of all things fantastical and creepy in children's literatureand she knows firsthand that ghosts, monsters, and the unknown can give you the language you need to understand yourself.

She was raised in Windham, New Hampshire, currently resides in Massachusetts, and spends her spare time watching horror movies, collecting cloche hats, and cursing sailors at sea. She can be found on Twitter @cafecliche.

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