Maile Meloy Interview, plus links to author biography, book summaries, excerpts and reviews

Maile Meloy
Photo: Nancy Crampton

Maile Meloy

How to pronounce Maile Meloy: first name is pronounced my-lee. Last name is pronounced maloy

An interview with Maile Meloy

Maile Meloy answers a handful of frequently asked questions...

What are you reading?
Cheating at Canasta, by William Trevor, which led someone to ask me why anyone would cheat at a game like canasta.  (The answer from the story: the character cheats to let his wife, who's losing her memory, win.)  I just finished the incredible Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel.  Also The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, and Marisa Silver's wonderful new collection, Alone With You.  Other books I've loved lately: Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives, by David Eagleman, and Let the Great World Spin, by Colum McCann. 
And it's a movie, not a book, but the documentary Prodigal Sons is wonderful, and set in my hometown. 

What advice do you have for writers who have trouble focusing?
Set aside time to write, even if it's only an hour or two a day, and think of the time as the requirement.  So you just have to be there, and it doesn't matter what you finish.  I think it takes the pressure off the individual story or chapter, and you'll end up working on the ideas that seem most promising.  I start many, many stories and abandon most of them, but eventually some pay off.

Do you like writing short stories or novels better?
I like going back and forth between the two.  It's like the difference between a long marriage and dating, and there are advantages to each.  With a novel, you know you have the book there to work on every morning.  With stories, you have new characters and fresh situations.  (Although some of my stories have taken me as long as the novels, with long periods in which I put the stories aside.)  Some of the stories in Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It were written (or started) before and between the novels, and some after. 

Do you outline your novels and stories before you begin?
No—I wish I could.  It might be more efficient.  I figure the story out as I go along, and then revise heavily when I know what it is.  The story "O Tannenbaum," in the new collection, started with the idea of a family out cutting down a Christmas tree, and choosing one that's crowding another tree so that the one left behind would have room to grow.  We used to do that, when I was growing up in Montana, and it seemed like a promising idea, but I didn't have anything more than that.  The hitchhikers showed up as they do in the story, under a tree in the snow. 

When did you decide to write A Family Daughter?  Were you planning it when you were writing Liars and Saints?
I wrote Liars and Saints first, with no thought of writing another novel about the Santerre family.  I really thought I was finished with them.  It wasn't until after Liars and Saints came out that I started thinking about writing a book about someone who's written a novel, and about the way people wonder what's true in it.  Then it seemed interesting to have one of the secret-keeping Santerres write one, so that A Family Daughter would seem to be the bigger, messier, less-streamlined source material that Liars and Saints came from.             
       
Everything I'd written until then had been very straightforwardly realistic, and this new novel would have a meta-fictional aspect to it, but only in relation to the other book.  A Family Daughter also had to work on its own, if you hadn't read Liars and Saints.  The mental exercise of doing both things at once seemed interesting and entertaining to me (and you have to find things that are interesting and entertaining to you, if you're going to plug away at a novel.)

The people who seem to have had the best experience of the two books are the ones who let a little time pass—enough time to read another book—in between.

What are you working on?
A novel that isn't about the Santerres. 

From the author's website with permission, 2010

Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    Stalin's Daughter
    by Rosemary Sullivan
    "There is something fatal about my life. You can't regret your fate, though I do regret my ...
  • Book Jacket: A Certain Age
    A Certain Age
    by Beatriz Williams
    Lovers of high-society gossip, there's a new set of players in town. A good 20 out of 23 of our...
  • Book Jacket: The Romanovs
    The Romanovs
    by Simon Sebag Montefiore
    The Romanovs chronicles the reigns of the 20 individuals who were considered members of that dynasty...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Miss Jane
    by Brad Watson

    "Starred Review. Sensitive, beautifully precise prose. Highly recommended." - PW

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    All Is Not Forgotten
    by Wendy Walker

    This is fast-paced psychological suspense/thriller at it's very best.

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Girl Waits with Gun
by Amy Stewart

An enthralling novel based on the forgotten true adventures of one of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Summer Stunner
Summer Giveaway

Win 5 books, each week in July!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

W M T N, W C F All

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

BookBrowse Summer Giveaway

We're giving away
5 books every
week in July!