Wouldn’t You Like to Know . . . Rosemary Clement-Moore
By Stacey Hayman
Accurately self-described as a “writer of spooky, funny, romantic, mysterious, and awesome books,” Rosemary Clement-Moore can claim the widely divergent Chuck E. Cheese and Theatre Victoria in Victoria, Texas, as two of her previous employers. As youth director and playwright for the theatre, Rosemary was responsible for creating clever and appealing one-act plays for a wide range of ages of both the actors and the audience, turning out to be a wonderful training ground for her career as a engaging author for choosy teen crowd! An avid reader, movie watcher, and crafty-type person, Rosemary and her husband live in North Texas with an energetic pack of dogs best described as 75 percent Pomeranian and 25 percent “other.” An occasional vegetarian with a serious, full-time coffee addiction, Rosemary is happy to leave room for dessert; perhaps a plate of chocolate chip cookies?
SH: When I was a teenager, people would describe me as a: jock, band geek, popular, goth, or (fill in the blank)?
RCM: That blank, in my school, would be filled with “Ropers,” which is what we called the cowboy boot/country music listening/dip-spitting crowd. I was not one of them. In fact, I didn’t fit in with any group. I did theatre, but I wasn’t a drama nerd. I was in honors classes, but I wasn’t a high achiever. I loved science fiction and comic books, but I didn’t advertise the fact. Then during my senior year, I found a bunch of other people who didn’t fit into any category, either, and we had a great time hanging out and not fitting in all together. It was sort of a precursor to being a writer, actually.
SH: The best/worst thing that happened to you in high school was?
RCM: Worst: I failed a six-weeks of Government because I forgot to make up a test.
Best: Realizing that a failure wasn’t the end of the world. (I pulled my semester grade point up to a 3.25.)
SH: Favorite food growing up? Favorite food now? Favorite food to snack on while writing?
RCM: Growing up: Dutch pancakes that my Dad made on Saturday mornings.
Now: Anything with the word “cake” in it.
Writing: Sour Gummi worms. (It changes with every book.)
SH: Favorite album or artist growing up? And now?
RCM: Growing up: The Beatles (I was always retro.)
Now: My tastes are just all over the place. A shuffle of my “favorites” playlist on my iPod turns up: Paramore, Colbie Caillat, Great Big Sea, Plain White T’s, Kelly Clarkson, the B-52’s, The Veronicas, Death Cab for Cutie, and Lyle Lovett. And, um, Miley Cyrus.
SH: Favorite television show growing up? And now?
RCM: Growing up: Star Trek reruns. Scooby Doo. Battlestar Galactica.
Now: Psych, Supernatural, Bones, Doctor Who, most of the SyFy Channel shows . . . and Battlestar Galactica.
SH: Favorite book? And now? Do you read while you’re writing?
RCM: Then: A Wrinkle in Time and The Blue Sword.
Now: The same, plus Pride and Prejudice, and anything by Agatha Christie. I try and read one book a week in my genre (YA), but when I’m in the heavy duty part of a book, I only read old favorites (Like L’Engle, Austen, and Christie) to sooth my brain before trying to sleep.
SH: Favorite family vacation? And now?
RCM: My family had a pop-up camper/trailer that we took on a vacation every summer, whether it was a loop through Utah, Colorado, and Arizona, or just down to San Antonio or Padre Island. I have very fond memories of those trips, of riding in the back of the station wagon with my brother, and sitting around a hibachi waiting on our charred hot dogs. Those commercials for RVing, with the family togetherness, and being able to be in nature without sleeping on the ground? Not a lie. It was awesome.
Now? Well, I’m headed up to Minnesota for a family reunion in August. Hopefully that will rank high, and not low, on the list.
SH: What made you want to be a writer? When did you think you’d be able to make a living doing it?
RCM: I loved to read, and I wanted to write my own story, to transcribe the day dream story in my head into words. But there was this huge disconnect between writing a book (which I understood) and being a published writer of books (which I had no concept where to start). Also, my high school counselor said my grades in English weren’t good enough for me to be a writer. So that put it firmly in the “someday” column. In fact, for the next decade, people kept asking “But what is going to be your ‘real’ job?” I didn’t believe this could be my real job until I finished Prom Dates From Hell, and realized it was good, and more to the point, marketable.
SH: If you could handpick the ideal reader for your book, how would you describe that reader?
RCM: She’d be pretty much just like me! She’d like a book that was a ripping good story, but with depth to the characters and meat to the prose. She has a sense of humor, but a dislike of flippancy, and she’s a romantic, but practical about it. A heroine should have to stand on her own feet before she’s swept off of them. She likes fantastic fiction because good triumphs over evil.
SH: Is there a book, besides your own of course, that you think everyone should be reading?
RCM: This minute? Endless Summer by Jennifer Echols. It’s YA romantic comedy that is smart and genuinely romantic and funny. Perfect for the heat of summer.
SH: Who was the first person who told you should be a writer?
RCM: My mom or my third grade teacher. Apparently my spelling sentences were EPIC.
SH: One of your books has been selected to be made into a movie, which book would you want it to be and who would want in your cast?
RCM: I think Highway to Hell would make a crazy cool movie, because the ending is kind of Hollywood Blockbuster all over. I have no idea who I’d cast, though.
SH: It’s your birthday, what is your ideal day like?
RCM: Hmmm. I’m not sure, except for it involves pajamas all day and a lot of cake.
SH: What three words do you think other people would use to describe you?
RCM: I hope they would include “smart” and “funny.” I’m sure they would include “vivacious.”
SH: You are sitting down to dinner with five people, living or dead, who you find fascinating. Who is at the table and what are you eating?
RCM: I’m sitting with Mark Twain, Anne Boleyn, Abigail Adams, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Thomas Jefferson, who is there because Benjamin Franklin couldn’t make it. I’m not sure what’s for dinner, but there are éclairs for desert.
SH: What one thing makes you feel happiest? What scares you?
RCM: Happiness is a cup of tea, a favorite book, and a warm puppy. Most of my fears have to do with being in situations I cannot control.
SH: If you were able to choose a superpower, what would it be and why?
RCM: Teleportation. Because I love to travel but I’m afraid of flying. (See above answer.)
SH: Do you have a phrase or motto that inspires you?
RCM: “Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.” –Mark Twain
SH: You get three wishes, what are they? (Yes, you can wish for more wishes but are you *that* person?)
RCM: 1. World peace, of course. 2. A summer house away from the Texas heat. 3. A bag of holding. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bag_of_holding)
SH: When asked what you wanted to be when you grew up, what did you say? Were you telling the truth?
RCM: The answer changed a lot, because I couldn’t make up my mind. Which is why being a writer is the best job ever.
SH: Any advice for teens, something you wish you had known? Or wish you had done? Or wish you had not done? And why. (Or maybe: Best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten, at any age?
RCM: It seems like all the advice you get as a teen either centers on “Be sensible” (uninspired) or “Follow your dreams” (utterly impractical). It’s like you only get a choice between being a tortoise or a hare. But there is a middle ground between a safe, sensible rut and throwing yourself off a ledge and hoping you’ll fly. Dream big, with a hare’s energy and enthusiasm, then work toward it with a tortoise’s dedication and purpose.
SH: Is there one moment in your life you’d love to live again? To either change it or to enjoy?
RCM: Of course there are decisions I’d like to change, in hindsight. But those decisions made me the person I am now, and I kind of like her–flaws and all–and how do I know a different path would lead me to the same place?
On Maggie Quinn, Girl vs. Evil Series
SH: How did you come up with the idea for this series?
RCM: There’s this show from the 70s called Kolchek: The Night Stalker. The X-Files was inspired by it–and so was Supernatural, in its first couple of seasons, though I wrote the first Maggie book before that series started. Kolchek was a newspaper reporter who investigated freaky events–vampires, werewolves, zombies, etc.–and I wanted to do that but with a spunky girl detective type. So it was “Nancy Drew” meets “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
SH: You mentioned the covers are going to be getting a little darker, or edgy? Did you like the original covers? Do you prefer your new covers? Which cover art did you have more input in creating?
RCM: I LOVE the illustrated covers of the Maggie Quinn books. Maggie looks just like I picture her, and I think they look like cool graphic novels. But I think some teen readers might have dismissed them as cartoony, and the books aren’t cartoony at all. If you look at the bookshelves now, it’s a much more atmospheric and “gothic” look (even on the non-gothic books). My latest releases have that kind of look, and I think it will suit Maggie, too, but with maybe more edge and less romanticism. (I don’t have much input; I leave that to the professionals.)
SH: For fans of Maggie Quinn, when will the next in the series be released? Or was Highway to Hell the last we’ll be seeing of Maggie?
RCM: I can’t answer this question without a crystal ball, and I forgot to ask for one with my three wishes.
SH: Maggie’s prom experience is pretty unpleasant. Is that for all the girls out there who don’t get invited to prom? Or is it more personal?
RCM: I’m sure there are people who have a blast at their prom, otherwise they wouldn’t keep having them. But this was definitely inspired by all the hype surrounding the event. There’s so much emphasis on it, and emotions are high, and expectations are high, and it’s just a breeding ground for drama. So . . . you know. Why not some demons, too?
SH: Granny Quinn has critical information to share. Is there any chance she’ll get a story of her own?
RCM: Hmmm . . . Well, there is now that you’ve given me the idea.
SH: Do you feel like there’s anything in the series that you wish you hadn’t put in? Or wish you had?
RCM: I can’t let myself think about that. I’m a tweaker. I’ll tweak a manuscript until they pry it out of my hands. I have to let the books stand, or this question will keep me up nights.
On The Splendor Falls
SH: Sylvie Davis is on her way to being a prima ballerina before her career ending injury. Are you a big fan of the ballet? Do you dance?
RCM: I love ballet. The music, the artistry, the movement . . . but I have no talent for it. I took dance from kindergarten until ninth grade, but the whole reason my mom enrolled me was to try and make me less of a klutz. Motor skills aren’t my strong suit.
SH: Sylvie’s dad has passed away and her mom is the least nurturing of all the parents in your books. Is there a reason she’s been left with so little family structure?
RCM: That’s an important part of the gothic novel archetype: The heroine comes to a strange and forbidding place as an orphan (or as good as one) which leaves her no option of escape or rescue when things get dark. She’s all alone in the world. Sylvie isn’t quite as alone as she feels, but as far as parents, she’s on her own, and that was important for the type of book I was writing.
SH: Gigi is such an important piece of the story’s puzzle. How did that come about? Is Gigi’s personality based on one of your own dogs?
RCM: Oh, Gigi. I had no idea Sylvie had a little dog, but suddenly there she was, in her little designer dog carrier. At first it was just a character quirk, but Gigi became very important because Sylvie was so closed off in her emotions, all walls and prickles and not wanting to admit she felt anything. But she loves this little dog, who loves her back. It also gave her someone to talk to, which was convenient for ME. The importance of her role in the end evolved naturally, because she’s Sylvie’s emotional touchstone. Gigi was based, loosely, on my beloved Lizzie, a Chihuahua-Papillion mix, who was a hundred pounds of personality in an eight pound dog. (Unfortunately, I lost Lizzie to illness in January. Anyone who’s read Splendor can probably tell how heartbreaking this was for me.)
SH: Including the Confederate Colonel, Hannah, and her beau as an historical, parallel story was such a clever idea. What made you think of it? Did it take a longtime to research?
RCM: Honestly, I can’t remember exactly how it evolved. Definitely in parallel lines to the main plot, as I knew I needed the echoing pattern. The War still overshadows so much in the South it was a natural evolution to make that part of the story. Visiting Old Cahawba was very inspirational as well.
SH: Will Sylvie and Rhys be back in a new story?
RCM: Possibly someday, but I doubt it will be the way anyone would expect. (How’s that for vague?)
On Texas Gothic
SH: Amy and her sister Phin are surrounded by women with unusual gifts. Was it difficult to create so many secondary characters with such complete background stories?
RCM: Strangely, no. I love creating characters, and one just seems to spawn another. Amy and Phin, however, were very distinct in my mind from the start. Amy, very practical, and Phin, very . . . not.
SH: You mention this story idea was one of your first. How did it become the fifth book to be written/published?
RCM: Well, I never finished it way back when. And when I set out to (finally) write (and finish) a book (or else), I wanted to start with a fresh idea, one that I hadn’t “failed” to finish. That was the first Maggie Quinn book. Then when I was writing The Splendor Falls, I’d originally titled it “Southern Gothic” because I had the idea that the next one would be “Texas Gothic” and I’d take that old idea but make it a YA so it was “new,” too.
SH: Archeology plays a key part for the second time in one of your books. Do you have a (not so) secret desire to go on a dig? Or have you already been on a dig? What would you like to be searching for?
RCM: I wanted to be an archaeologist when I was a kid, but the sad fact is, I have no heat tolerance and you have to spend too much time out in tents in places with large bugs and no flushing toilets. I’m fascinated by the past, and the physical remnants of lost cultures, but I don’t have the constitution to search for it myself. Not unless I can go home to a hot shower and food that won’t give me dysentery. As for what I’d be looking for? Probably something impractical, like the origins of the Atlantis myth, or the location of Troy.
SH: Amy has some tough luck, but her sassy attitude doesn’t always make things better. Is Amy most like you of all your characters? Or least like you?
RCM: All my characters reflect pieces of me, sometimes from different points in my life. Amy is probably the most like me at this particular moment in time, not least in her need to control the uncontrollable. But she’s a lot more clever with the comebacks and repartee than I am. I’m too nice to say some of the things she does.
SH: Will Amy and Ben be back in a new story?
RCM: I really, really hope so!
SH: What are you working on now?
RCM: I’m working on a spin off to Texas Gothic, which involves one of the Goodnight clan. She’s off on her own having a completely different adventure, but fans of Texas Gothic will find familiar touch points. It’s got ghosts and archeology in it (big surprise!) but it’s really different otherwise.
SH: The paranormal is such a big part of your books. Is it just a fascinating topic for you? Or is it a result of personal experience?
RCM: Oh, I haven’t any more experience with the paranormal than the average person. (I mean, who hasn’t felt a chill in a creepy place or imagined a figure in the dark or . . .) Mostly, I like to imagine “what if?” and take it to an extra-ordinary place. It’s more interesting to me than the limits of reality.
SH: Have you based any of the characters in your books on real people? Is there any character you like more than others?
RCM: There are pieces of real people in a number of my characters, but no one has ever been put in whole. Dr. Smyth has the name and physical description of my best friend (and mad science consultant). Maggie’s relationship with her father comes from my close relationship with my own dad . . . which of course makes him one of my favorite characters.
SH: Do fans ever suggest story lines for your characters? If they have, did you use it? Or if not, do you wish they would?
RCM: Yes, they do! Especially Sylvie and Rhys. I get all kinds of letters about their future, and some of them are really clever. I have my own ideas for what’s going to happen to them, and no one has guessed it (yet). It really thrills me, though, that these characters have inspired people to ask their own “What if . . . ?” questions, and they are welcome to imagine the answer! My very first writings were for myself, imagining the continuing adventures of favorite characters in favorite worlds.
SH: If you went on a long road trip, which of your characters would you want riding shotgun?
RCM: Maggie Quinn. If you could see the way she packs–she’s always ready for anything. Her true superpower is overpacking.
SH: Having won the Romance Writers of America’s 2009 RITA® for Best Young Adult Romance, what award(s) would you like to win next?
RCM: It’s an award I’ve made up called, “The Awesome and Successful and Happy and Healthy Writer Award.” That’s not asking too much, is it?
SH: Is there anything you’d like to add?
RCM: After answering all these questions? I should hope not! 😀
Books by Rosemary Clement-Moore
Prom Dates from Hell. Delacorte Press, 2007. 308 p. $15.99. 978-0-385-73412-7. PLB $18.99. 978-0-385-90428-5. VOYA April 2007. 4Q 4P J S
Hell Week. Delacorte Press, 2008. 329 p. $16.99. 978-0385-73414-1. PLB $19.99. 978-0-385-90429-2. VOYA August 2008. 5Q 5P S
Highway to Hell. Delacorte Press, 2009. 357 p. $16.99. 978-0385-73414-1. PLB $19.99. 978-0-385-90462-9. VOYA February 2009. 5Q 5P S
Splendor Falls. Delacorte Press, 2009. $17.99. 978-0385-73690-9. PLB $20.99. 978-0385-90635-7. VOYA December 2009. 4Q 4P J S
Texas Gothic. Delacorte Press, 2011. 406 p. $17.99. 978-0385-73693-0. PLB $20.99. 978-03859-0636-4. VOYA June 2011. 4P 5Q M J S
Author Website: http://www.rosemaryclementmoore.com/readrosemary/Home.html
Fresh Fiction: http://freshfiction.com/author.php?id=15166
YA Outside the Lines: http://yaoutsidethelines.blogspot.com/
Fresh Takes from the Teen Shelves: http://freshfiction.com/pages.php?id=rosemary