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Author Interview: Lois Meztger

Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Today, I'm delighted to be interviewing with Lois Metzger, whose novel A Trick of the Light was released on June 18th.





A Trick of the Light



Genre: Contemporary
Hardback: 208 Pages
Publication: June 18, 2013 by Balzer & Bray




Synopsis

Mike Welles had everything under control. But that was before. Now things are rough at home, and they’re getting confusing at school. He’s losing his sense of direction, and he feels like he’s a mess.

Then there’s a voice in his head. A friend, who’s trying to help him get control again. More than that—the voice can guide him to become faster and stronger than he was before, to rid his life of everything that’s holding him back. To figure out who he is again. If only Mike will listen.



Interview with Lois Meztger

Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into writing.
I was born in Queens, New York City, and grew up in several different Queens neighborhoods, which I combined to create the fictional Belle Heights (where A TRICK OF THE LIGHT takes place). At age 14, I began writing short stories. My first one was written from the point of view of my best friend at the time, and it began, "I love Paul and I always will." Then the narrator decides she hates Paul, and after several more boyfriends, she loves him again. The last line was, "I love Paul and I always will." This little story (it was only a few pages) taught me how to unite character, plot and structure. I kept writing short stories, and eventually they got longer and more complicated, which led to my writing novels in my 20s.

I saw that you began looking into boys and eating disorders after reading an article in the New York Daily News.What did you learn while researching for A Trick of the Light that stood out to you the most?
I didn't know that 10 percent of people with eating disorders are male. In this country, there are 10 million eating-disorder sufferers, which translates to one million boys and men. That's an astonishing statistic, and many people say the figure is actually much higher. Too often, doctors and people in the general public (I used to be one of them) wrongly assume that only girls can get eating disorders.

A Trick of the Light is told from the perspective of a voice in Mike's head. Why did you choose to do this instead of telling the story from Mike's perspective?
When I began, I tried to tell the story from Mike's perspective; he was the first narrator. But Mike couldn't understand so much of what was happening to him. How could he talk about something he was barely aware of? When Mike was lying to himself, he couldn't admit to it, because he didn't think of it as lying (although I always wanted the reader to know it). There was only one narrator who understood the whole picture, even if the picture was warped.

Mike is in a delicate stage of life where his world seems to be crumbling to pieces and he thinks that no one understands him. How did you go about developing his character to portray his vulnerabilities while keeping him relatable to readers?
I saw Mike as a person by himself, but I was also very aware of how he appeared to other people. He was Tamio's best friend; he was his parents' son; to his coach, he played right field, and so on. This helped me keep Mike grounded and real, especially while this voice in Mike's head is isolating him and filling him with a distorted view of the world.

Stop-motion movies play a large role in who Mike is as a person and also in his healing process. How did you come up with the idea of incorporating stop-motion movies into the story?
It happened at almost the beginning. I just wanted something kind of strange and old-fashioned, something that would appeal to a kid like Mike, someone a little off the beaten path, a kid who might've spent a lot of time alone when he was young. Ray Harryhausen's movies show up on classic movie channels, and I just knew that if Mike caught one at some point, even accidentally, he'd get swept up in it. Then, as I began revising the book, stop-motion animation became much more linked to what Mike was going through, how he came to realize that he needed to take tiny -- but significant -- steps to regain his mental and physical health.

What do you hope readers get out of Mike's story?
Well, I hope they think it's a really good story! Beyond that, maybe they'll think about voices in their own heads that might be telling them negative things they don't have to listen to.

What are you working on right now?
I've always liked science fiction, and this new book is a little bit science-fiction-ish. It takes place about ten years in the future; it's about a deeply unhappy girl who takes drastic steps to cure her unhappiness. It has to do with suppressed memories, and false memories, and "makeovers" of personalities. I'll keep you posted!



About the Author

Lois's Website | Facebook

Lois Metzger, author of A Trick of the Light, was born in Queens and has always written for young adults. She is the author of three previous novels and two nonfiction books about the Holocaust, and she has edited five anthologies. Her short stories have appeared in collections all over the world. Her writing has also appeared in The New Yorker, The Nation, and Harper's Bazaar. She lives in Greenwich Village with her husband and son.
1 comment on "Author Interview: Lois Meztger"
  1. Great interview! I haven't seen this one before! Another book to add to my TBR list :)

    Ann@Blogging E-books

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