Q: You note that your publisher suggested, "Why don't you write a contemporary Our Town and focus on the opioid epidemic?" How did that suggestion lead to this book, and how did you create your character Emory?
A: I've always loved the play Our Town and the thought of using it a loose inspiration was very intriguing to me. I do think if Thornton Wilder was writing the play today, he definitely would have included the opioid crisis, which is devastating communities and families.
My job as the writer was to imagine a town, a family, a community, and think about how the tentacles of addiction touch us all. I wanted to examine addiction from the point of view of someone watching it, someone on the outside, feeling helpless, feeling overwhelmed, feeling overshadowed. That's Emory.
Q: What did you see as the right balance between Thornton Wilder's classic play and your modern take on the story?
A: I'm not sure I was trying to strike a balance so much as trying to stay out of Thornton Wilder's way, because no one can top Our Town!
Q: The Publishers Weekly review of the novel says, in part, “Glasgow tackles such difficult topics as classism and bigotry in the educational system, and draws struggles with addiction, especially Joey’s, with remarkable compassion.” What do you think of that description?
A: I think that description is pretty apt! There are a lot of threads and subplots in the novel, and I wanted to treat each one respectfully.
Q: How would you describe the relationship between Emory and her brother Joey?
A: Emory and Joey have always had each other's backs. Perhaps too much so; Emory often feels like she needs to keep Joey's secrets in order to keep the family peace. Joey doesn't really see Emmy as she wants to be seen.
It's a complicated relationship because she loves him more than anything, and yet she can't live life, or be the person she wants to be, as long as she's responsible for his well-being. It isn't fair to her and it isn't fair to Joey. They each need to learn to set boundaries.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I have a dual POV mystery co-written with Liz Lawson, author of The Lucky Ones, coming out in May 2022. It's called The Agathas and is a fast-paced, fun mystery about two girls teaming up to solve the murder of a classmate. It was a joy to write with Liz and we can't wait until readers meet Alice and Iris.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: One thing I get asked a lot is how do you know when you're a real writer. I think if you write, you are a writer. Call yourself a writer! You do not need to have a book on a shelf to earn the title of "writer." Believe in yourself and the story you want to tell.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb