Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Q&A with Cambria Brockman

Cambria Brockman is the author of the new novel Tell Me Everything. She owns a photography company, Cambria Grace, and she lives in Boston.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Tell Me Everything?

A: TME is about a group of friends navigating their way through college. I had graduated from Bates a few years before starting the novel, so everything was still fresh on my mind.

When you live on a small campus in rural Maine, you become very close with everyone – you live together, eat together, drink, play, study, everything is together. You’re also away from home for the first time, trying to figure out who you are, what you want to be. There are academic pressures, relationship anxieties, complex personalities…

So I used all that as the foundation for the novel, but of course, the heart of TME lies with our unreliable narrator, Malin, who came to me out of nowhere one day while I was on a walk with my dog!

Q: As you mentioned, the novel takes place mostly at a college. How important is setting to you in your writing?

Setting is like another character for me. Especially in Maine where the seasons change so significantly. I loved writing Hawthorne. It made me feel like I was back at Bates, getting coffee in Commons, trudging through snow to class, wet Bean boots squeaking against worn Schoolhouse floors. All those things are very nostalgic for me. I hope the reader really feels like they are at a small college in Maine.

Q: How was the novel's title chosen, and what does it signify for you?

A: I wrote the line in a conversation between Malin and Gemma towards the end of the novel. It is not a positive tell me everything! and more of a tell me everything so we can fix this.

It also relates in a larger way to Malin’s mission at Hawthorne. She is constantly on this line of wanting to get closer to her friends, but also keeping them at a distance. In this particular instance, she is diving in, she is fully invested in fixing the problem, which is a significant thing for her. It’s a big moment for her.

Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make changes along the way?

A: I knew the ending first. As I mentioned earlier, the idea came to me on a walk with my dog and when I thought of it I was like, this is it, this is the book I’m going to write. I like to think of the twist first and then figure out how to get there. It helps me develop the characters.

If I know that Malin ends in a certain place, it’s fun thinking of how she got there. It all comes together from there!

Q: What are you working on now?

A: A second novel! It’s about a group of strangers, aged 16-23, who meet on a wilderness hiking course in Wyoming. All of them are carrying secrets about why they’re truly there, which all comes out in the end.

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: Tell Me Everything has been optioned by Netflix and they’re currently working on the script! So that’s exciting!

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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