Friday, April 1, 2011

Interview with Angie Smibert

I'm very excited to introduce Angie Smibert author of Memento Nora. Memento Nora is the first book I gave a five star in 2011. Angie is part of the Class of 2K11 and her novel is dystopian with a science fiction twist. Please welcome Angie!

How did you come up with the concept for Memento Nora?
The idea came from current research in the area of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I read a few articles about researchers using drugs to lessen the impact of traumatic memories on PTSD sufferers. (The idea looks promising, btw.) I took it a step further. My drug would erase the memory—and be available at little Starbuck’s / frozen yogurt-style places on every corner.

How did this evolve from a short story?
I wrote the short story, “Memento Nora,” for Odyssey magazine (June 2008 issue). The short story is about Nora’s first trip to TFC. After the story appeared, I started thinking about what Nora would have done after spitting out the pill. I did have to frame the novel a little differently than the short story (as well as introduce other points of view), but the first two chapters are essentially the same as the short story.

Did you find it difficult to tell such a powerful story in less than 200 pages?
I think I’m a naturally lean writer. I don’t like huge chunks of exposition unless it’s really, really interesting or told in a great voice. So, most of my world-building is woven in among the dialogue and action. Also, since I framed the book as a series of confessions (or therapeutic statements), I gave myself a built-in limitation. If you’re confessing something, you don’t necessarily do much exposition.

Micah isn’t your typical moody guy but his actions can be dangerous. How did you decide what he would be like?
Micah is (very) loosely inspired by someone I know. Micah is how I imagined this friend might have been as teenager—if he’d been homeless and living in the future. At least that’s where I started with Micah. He grew as the story did.

Nora makes the first move which is interesting. How does this go against her character from before she met Micah and how does she differ from other girls in YA?
You’re right. Before she saw what she saw and heard what she heard, Nora wouldn’t have dreamed of making the first move, especially toward Micah. The old Nora was concerned about appearances and belonging to the right crowd. The new Nora, which is only in part due to her association with Micah and Winter, takes things more into own hands.

In Memento Nora you pay tribute to MLK why did you choose him?
Some of the landmarks in the book are based on real places (like the MLK pedestrian bridge, Black Dog Salvage, and the street names) in Roanoke. I imagined Hamilton, the city Nora lives in, to be a much bigger version of Roanoke and much closer to Washington, DC.

Who is your favorite side character that you hope readers relate to or really love?
I’m pretty fond of Koji Yamada—Winter’s grandfather-- too. Who wouldn’t want a ninja grandpa?

What made you choose the word Glossy?
I wanted a slang word that captured Nora’s and her world’s fascination with shiny newness and feeling good. Glossy seemed to work. Everything needs to glossy like a magazine or a news anchor’s hair. Also, when we gloss over something, we’re putting a pretty shine on something to make it deceptively attractive.

Is there an inspiration behind Winter’s art?
Several. I have some of Winter’s inspirations on my book site ( They include actual kinetic sculptures and a Honda Accord ad. Also, my great uncle was an artist. I only met him a few times, but I have this distinct memory of a Rube Goldberg device he’d built in his basement (or maybe it was his garden). A Rube Goldberg device is one of those machines that takes 55 steps to do something really simple like make toast. (The Honda ad, btw, is a Rube Goldberg device.) That’s what gave me the idea to make all of her kinetic sculptures work together to achieve something.

Why do people keep going back to TFC to forget? Is it easier to forget?
Yes. Sometimes, it’s easier to forget the bad than deal with it. And sometimes you do need to forget to be able to move on with your life. Plus, in this world, you can earn frequent forgetting points every time you do forget.

Can you tell us a little about what you have planned for the next book?
Right now, the title of book 2 is the Forgetting Curve. It’s scheduled to come out in Spring 2012. This one will be more Winter-centric, and I’m introducing a new character. And a minor character from book 1 will take a more prominent role.

How many books do you see in this series?
I’m not sure yet.

As a teen

With the Class of 2k11 we are going back to high school. So I have a few questions for you.

What was high school like for you?
Oh, I was a bit of nerd—with some streaks of the inner rebel. I was in dorky things like the Latin Club and the National Honor society. I was also an editor of the school newspaper. I listened to punk and new wave music. I didn’t really fit neatly into one clique, but I had friends in most of them.

Would you have taken the pill to forget?
Probably not. I might have put anything juicy I remembered or found out in the school newspaper, though.

Were you a reader in High School? If so what book was your favorite?
I’ve always been a big reader. I discovered science fiction and fantasy in early high school. One of my favorites at the time was Dune by Frank Herbert. I probably read it a few times. Also, I loved the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

In Memento Nora commercials customize to you. What commercials would be shown for you?
Food. Coffee. (I’m actually writing this in a coffee shop.) Gadgets. And, of course, books.

I want to thank Angie for visiting and Memento Nora is in stores today so make sure to get a copy!

For more on Angie visit:


  1. What a neat post! Thank you for sharing!

  2. I love how she found the idea behing the story, the concept was great and Winter's grandfather was my favorite character too! Great interview! =)

  3. Great interview! This sounds like a very interesting story.

  4. this sounds awesome..
    i will so be checking into this..
    so glad i found your blog!

  5. I loved Winter's grandfather too! Great interview!


  6. Great interview! I loved MEMENTO NORA and especially the ending.

  7. Great interview. I loved her answers. I'm interested in this town she lives in.

  8. Great question about Nora making the first move -- that's something I noticed and loved about the story too! And Micah was such a sweetheart =D <3