Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Q&A with Elle Marr




Elle Marr is the author of the new novel The Alone Time. Her other novels include The Family Bones. She lives in Oregon.


Q: What inspired you to write The Alone Time, and how did you create the Seng family?


A: The Alone Time was inspired, in part, by my own experience with a plane crash when I was a child. I was 11 years old and my dad was flying the plane over a mountain range in Southern California when the gas cap came unscrewed and leaked all of our remaining fuel. Everyone was okay, but it made for a harrowing experience!


The terror of it, which has stuck with me, made me wonder what might have happened, had we not landed in a more hospitable environment.


The Seng family came to me while thinking about how two adult sisters, survivors of a terrible tragedy, might have been shaped during their childhood by their parents. From there, I had to consider what kind of parents might do well in a wilderness setting – and what kind would not.

Q: The novel is set in a remote part of Washington state--why did you choose that setting, and how did you research the book?


A: I searched for locations in the Pacific Northwest where one could get potentially lost or stranded for a period of time. Given the “right” weather circumstances—right, for this writer’s purposes—the Olympic National Park was the perfect fit, with its rolling mountains, snow-packed peaks and adjacent rainforests.


I researched the area extensively, including learning that an expedition team got lost in that exact area for six months back in the 1800s.


Q: The writer Lyn Liao Butler said of the book, “Each layer of the story is expertly revealed, leaving you in shock as you wonder what is the truth and what is only imagined.” What do you think of that description?


A: I loved it! As a writer, I’m always hoping that my colleagues (other authors) enjoy my work. Butler’s stories are so suspenseful and steeped in complex family dynamics, and I was grateful for her kind words. I hope all readers who dive into The Alone Time feel the same delicious shock that Butler did.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the story?


A: The Alone Time is about confronting ourselves and our actions, no matter how many years have passed—and then accepting the consequences.


I hope readers walk away from this book questioning the choices they would have made in the same impossible situations that Fiona and Violet endure. And if they do, I hope readers are honest with themselves. After all, the truth always comes out in the end.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m getting ready to launch my next book, an adult romantic thriller titled Your Dark Secrets from Disney Hyperion Avenue, which publishes on July 30. Plus, I’m writing a new thriller that’s been really fun to explore thus far.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: The Alone Time is my fifth book, and I am so proud of the finished product. It sat in my head for years until I had the bandwidth to process my own memories and then to invent new elements to drive this separate, fictional story. It’s the exploration of “What if?” in the most extreme sense. I hope that readers enjoy the ride.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Elle Marr.

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