Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Q&A with Margarita Montimore

Margarita Montimore, photo by David Swanson
Margarita Montimore is the author of the new novel Oona Out of Order. A freelance book coach and editor, she lives in New Jersey.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Oona Out of Order?

A: In my late 30s, I found myself experiencing a strange disconnect where it was hard for me to believe I was pushing 40 when there were days I woke up still feeling like I was 19 on the inside.

That got me thinking about what it might be like for a woman to experience her adult life aging chronologically on the inside but leaping into different points of her timeline every year.

As soon as I uttered the words, “What if a woman lived her life out of order?” I knew that was the next book I had to write.

Q: Did you write the sections in the order in which they appear in the book, or did you write them in chronological order and then move them around?

A: I wrote the sections in the order in which they appear in the book, though I also maintained a separate list that was chronological timeline for Oona. This helped me keep track of key events in her life year to year and ensure continuity.

Q: The novel has been compared to The Time Traveler's Wife and Life After Life. What do you think of those comparisons?

A: I haven’t read Life After Life, but it’s been on my TBR for ages and I’ve heard it’s excellent.

As for The Time Traveler’s Wife, that’s one of my favorite books, so I’m flattered by any comparisons to it.

That book is also a big reason I resisted writing Oona at first, because Audrey Niffenegger’s novel is perfection: the prose is gorgeous, and the love story it tells feels both epic and intimate. But then I realized Oona’s story would be different, beginning with her love life being far messier.

Also, I wanted use time travel to explore other relationships she’d have—romantic, familial, and platonic—as well as larger themes like identity and aging.

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

A: That as much as we may try to craft a meaningful life, sometimes it all comes down to the smaller special moments we collect along the way and the people we share them with.

To quote a line from the book, “All good things end, always. The trick is to enjoy them while they last.”

Q: What are you working on now?

A: It’s been challenging to focus on drafting something new while in the midst of book promo, but I have a handful of new story ideas swimming around my head and I’m hoping to zero in on one of them once things settle down a bit.

I’ve also mapped out part of a sequel to Oona Out of Order—I’m not sure when I’ll explore it in more detail, but her story is definitely not over for me.

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: While writing this book, I always had music playing and often had a specific soundtrack in mind for various scenes in the story... so I created an Oona Out of Order playlist on Spotify.

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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