Wouldn’t You Like to Know . . . Myra McEntire
by Stacey Hayman
Growing up in Northeast Tennessee and living in Nashville, you might assume Myra McEntire must love NASCAR and country music, but her readers know the truth. This author isn’t so predictable; singing R&B in the family car is really more her speed. Myra’s true Southern style can be found in her childhood clogging outings to Carter’s Fold—complete with snazzy green tap shoes—and her ability to slip “y’all” into everyday conversation as easy as pie. After graduating from Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, TN, with a degree in English and Sociology, Myra met and married her match, and favorite minor league pitcher, Ethan. The next five years were spent forming a first-hand opinion on the designated hitter rule while moving a mere thirty-six times. Episodes of depression and a miscarriage have helped make the sweet times sweeter; times like the birth of her two sons Andrew and Charlie or being inspired to write after reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows—purchased midnight on July 21, 2007 and finished the same day. Not afraid of being labeled a sci-fi geek, Myra is happy to share her love of all that has been (or will be) created from Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series and, of course!, the legendary creations of Dr. Who and Star Wars. Better yet? When Hourglass is made into a movie, others will be able to have the same feelings for her series!
SH: When I was a teenager, people would describe me as a: (jock, band geek, popular, goth, other, none?)
MM: I was on the dance team, so I ran around with the popular kids by default. I was definitely a geek at heart.
SH: The best/worst thing that happened to you in high school was?
MM: Best, making the dance team. I had zero confidence except when I danced, so it was nice to experience it occasionally. The worst? That time I walked face first into a flagpole.
SH: Favorite childhood book? Favorite food? Favorite band or album? Favorite television show?
MM: Wizard of Oz, ice cream, Janet Jackson, Love Boat. Yes. I’m that old.
SH: Is there a story from your childhood that is told most often, either by you *or* about you?
MM: My third grade teacher told my mom once that she didn’t know where I went in my head when I was supposed to be learning, but wherever it was, I had a really good time.
SH: Was there any class in high school you regret paying too little, or too much, attention? If you could add one class to high schools across the country, what would be the topic?
MM: I wish I’d paid more attention in history. I love researching now, and I wish I had better skills. I’d love to add a class on handling money, and debt. That would be a nice thing for a kid to truly understand prior to college loans.
SH: If you could be a character from any book, including your own, who would you want to be? Why?
MM: Hermione. That doesn’t need an explanation.
SH: Do you have any favorite family traditions that might need some explanation to outsiders looking in? Do you remember how they started?
MM: Coke in glass bottles on Christmas Eve. My granny always did it, so we do, too.
SH: If you had an important secret or story to share, who would be the first person you’d turn to?
MM: My husband. I know where he sleeps, so he’s a closed book.
SH: Is there a book, besides your own, of course, that you think everyone should be reading?
MM: I’ve been reading Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Artist, and I wish I’d found it a long time ago.
SH: What’s your biggest pet peeve?
MM: People who stand behind me and push down on my office chair when I’m working. I had a boss that used to do that, and I always wanted to punch him.
SH: Is there one moment in your life you’d love to live again? To either change it or to enjoy?
MM: My wedding. We eloped, and it all happened so fast, and I wish we’d really taken time to enjoy it. We’ve been married for seventeen years, and I think it’s time for a vow renewal.
SH: What do you think would catch a person’s attention if they walked into your workspace, your kitchen, or your family room?
MM: Office: I have a collection of grotesques, gargoyles, and skulls. One skull is covered in hot pink glitter. Kitchen: TARDIS cookie jar. Family room: it’s usually clean. That always catches MY attention.
SH: When you’re done writing for the day, or taking a little “me” time, do you have a hobby or special treat you indulge in?
MM: I love Netflix, and being able to absorb a whole series that I haven’t had time for because of deadlines. When you can watch stuff back to back, it’s a great study in character and world building. (Also, that makes me feel less guilty.)
SH: What three words would you use to describe yourself? What three words do you think other people would use to describe you?
MM: Honest, sarcastic, hopefully kind. Honest, sarcastic, and probably inappropriate.
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?
MM: This is going to be completely random, so sorry about that. Jesus, J. K. Rowling, Eminem, Lord Byron, Steven Moffat. We’d eat cake. Lots and lots of cake.
SH: You’ve been asked to participate in the reality TV show of your choice! On which show will we find you, and do you think you’ll win?
MM: So You Think You Can Dance! End up in traction, yes. Win, no.
SH: Do you have a phrase or motto that inspires you?
MM: “What are you here for?” Grammatically incorrect, and innocuous, but very meaningful to me.
SH: What one thing makes you feel happiest? What makes you sad? What scares you?
MM: Happy: when everyone I love is at peace. Sad: when I can’t fix something that’s hurting someone. Scared: some sort of disease that will rob me of my brainpower before I can get all these words out.
SH: What is one (or more!) of your favorite features about yourself? It can be anything from an impeccable sense of style to your sense of humor to crazy long toes that can pick up a variety of objects.
MM: My attempts to always choose kindness, and my ability to admit it when I don’t.
SH: A series of choices: Milk chocolate or dark chocolate? Movies or music? Cats or dogs? Three meals or all-day snacking? Pen or pencil? Laugh or cry? County fair or theme park? Morning, noon, or night? Athlete or spectator?
MM: Dark. Movies with music. Cats. All day snacking. Pencil. Laugh. County fair. Night. Spectator!
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?)
MM: I didn’t start writing until later in life, and my perception was that I had to be qualified before I could do it. The only way you can qualify to do something is by doing it. So DO IT. Doesn’t matter if you’re bad or good or you change your mind. Just do it. (I am Nike, apparently.)
SH: Starting with the most obvious question: How hard was it to figure out all the different possible permutations of time travel for all those different characters? Are you secretly a top-notch physicist hiding in plain sight as a top-notch author?
MM: I researched and researched and hit up a theoretical physicist friend. And it was hard. And my brain matter leaks out my ears pretty regularly.
SH: In both stories, the vivid location descriptions make the setting as important as any other character. Which came first, spotting the fictional Ivy Springs within the actual town of Franklin, TN? Or was it deciding you wanted to write a book that would be primarily contained by the borders of a small town?
MM: I knew I wanted to write about the South, and I knew I wanted to write about the modern South. I was at Puckett’s Grocery for lunch one day and it just HIT ME, that Franklin was Ivy Springs, and that Puckett’s Grocery was actually Murphy’s Law. I drug my husband through downtown taking pictures, and those pictures became my reference points.
SH: For spending a limited amount of time in the spotlight, Thomas and Dru really jump off the page as interesting, three-dimensional characters. What’s your secret for making this pair so integral? Do you think they might get a book of their own?
MM: OOOOOOOH, what an intriguing idea! Emerson had been through too much on her own, things that broke her. In order to heal, it was integral for her to have someone to really count on. I tried to make sure they gave her what she needed, and some boundaries, while still letting her have some freedom. I’m an only child, and they’re the brother and sister I always wanted.
SH: It was such a great, unexpected change to have Kaleb tell this story from his point of view! What made you think of this? What was the biggest challenge in describing people and places as Kaleb when Emerson had already introduced so much of this world?
MM: I knew from the beginning that Kaleb would narrate the next story in the series. It has to be told from his pov, because while Emerson’s choice to break the rules and mess up the space-time continuum has an impact on everyone, it has the biggest impact on him. He had more to lose. Emerson was as okay as she could be in that point in the storyline. She had friends, family, love; all things she never expected. It was time to move on to the next troubled soul. After Timepiece, it’s time to move again.
SH: Kaleb’s inner struggle with guilty feelings comes out in so many self-destructive ways. Did you ever worry that he would become an unsympathetic, or even unlikable, character? How did you find the balance?
MM: This is crazy writer talk, but Kaleb always was who he was. He started “speaking” to me during the first draft of Hourglass, and I knew his personal arc, and I knew whom he’d be romantically involved with (and that was hinted at in several Hourglass drafts, but I eventually took it out). He came out of my brain fully formed, and while that sounds like it would make story telling easy, but it was incredibly hard.
SH: What happened to the skeleton’s leg bone?
MM: I think Dune turned it into a keychain.
SH: Having Hourglass selected as a 2012 RITA Finalist for Best First Book *and* 2012 RITA Finalist for Young Adult Romance is a pretty huge. Being selected as one of MTV’s 2011 Beach Reads has a nice sound to it as well. Are there any other awards, titles, or accolades, you’d like to win?
MM: I’d like to be awarded the interest and support of readers who love the series, and to earn the title of “She Who Gets to Write More Books.”
SH: Are you as much of a caffeine addict as Emerson or Lily? Do you have a favorite drink (0f any kind) request?
MM: I am a huge caffeine addict, and my doctor has forbidden it! This just happened, and I can’t even tell you . . . My second favorite is mint tea, and I can’t have that anymore EITHER. So I’m trying various herbal teas and staring forlornly at my Keurig.
SH: Is Ava going to be the narrator for Infinityglass? (Was that slipped in so unexpectedly you find yourself feeling compelled to spill secrets from book three?)
MM: Ha ha! I’ll never tell! Well, I’ll have to tell eventually. I’ll just say that I couldn’t be more thrilled with the way it’s coming together, and I hope the readers who doubted Kaleb and Timepiece but came around will trust me with (you thought I’d slip up, didn’t you?) whomever and Infinityglass.
SH: Of all the good guys and all the bad guys, do you have a soft spot for any one of them in particular? Are you ever surprised by reader responses when they share which character(s) they prefer?
MM: Michael. He knows so much he can’t tell, and there’s a lot under the surface for him. He carries a lot of weight. But also, I love Kaleb, because I know him down to his toes. I’m always surprised, and a tiny bit pleased, when they like Jack. His brain is a fun and freaky place to hang out.
SH: In a perfect world, one in which you have complete casting control of the Hourglass movie, who would you want to play the key characters?
MM: Em – Britt Robertson
Michael – Joe Manganiello, via reverse aging (Or, maybe we can use a wormhole bridge or the TARDIS and go back in time and borrow a younger version of Joe? Because otherwise, creepy.)
Lily – Selena Gomez
Kaleb – Chris Zylka
Cat – Zoe Saldana
Landers – Ryan Gosling (ENTIRELY SELFISH)
Liam – Jeffery Dean Morgan
Thomas – Jensen Ackles
Dru – Me, obvs.
SH: What’s the best question you’ve ever been asked?
MM: “Will you sign my arm?”
Books by Myra McEntire
Hourglass. Egmont USA, 2011. 400p. $17.99. 978-1-6068-4144-0. VOYA June 2011. 3Q 3P M J S
Timepiece: an Hourglass novel. Egmont USA, 2012. 336p. $17.99. 978-1-6068-4145-7.
Websites about Myra McEntire and Her Books
Official Fan Site for the Hourglass series: http://murphyslawcoffee.com/