After reading Matched, I got the opportunity to interview the author, Ally Condie, about her book, her writing, her life, and even a little about her own high school years. Make sure to pick up her book on November 30th, and enjoy the interview! (Also check out the fan twittter @societyofmatched)
What was your biggest inspiration to write Matched?
*My biggest inspirations for writing Matched were: an experience chaperoning Junior Prom when I was a high school teacher, a conversation with my husband about society’s role in marriage, and my own experience with a high school “matching” dance. All these three things came together as I was preparing to write the first scene in the first chapter of the book.
Cassia is a strong and independent girl; is the character based on anyone you know?
*Cassia isn’t based concretely on anyone I know—no one person inspired her. However, I think she is based on many strong young women I’ve known throughout the years—friends, students, etc.
Would you have been friends with Cassia in high school?
*Yes, I think so. She’s the kind of person I would have loved to have been–I think she’s one of those people that draws others to them. She’s not afraid to learn and she’s strong, but she’s also gentle and kind. And has cute boyfriends. I would have liked to hang out with them too. 🙂
What was your favorite book as a teenager?
*I read Saint Maybe by Anne Tyler over and over and over. It was a book that broke my heart and opened my eyes and made me think. It was also my first real exposure to the world of grown-up literature (that wasn’t things like Shakespeare or Hemingway, etc.) and I was just blown away. The same could be said for Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner, which I read at about the same time. Both books changed my life.
What do you think the appeal of worlds like the Society is to their citizens?
*I think the Society’s world appeals to the citizens because it is safe and pleasant. I think we all need safety to some extent in our lives and seek it out. I also think the Society takes a lot of uncertainty out of life—you know who you’ll marry, when you die, etc.—which is nice in many ways. And, of course, they can pretty much guarantee that you’ll have a long, happy life without illness. That is something that I think a lot of us would like to have.
What novels (YA, or otherwise) do you love?
*I’m a huge YA junkie. I think this comes from going from being a young adult to teaching them to writing for them—I’ve never left! I think there are so many fantastic authors writing today. M.T. Anderson, Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia, Laurie Halse Anderson, Carrie Ryan, Carol Lynch Williams, Ann Dee Ellis, to name a few. That list could go on forever! I’m also a huge fan of Wallace Stegner, Anne Tyler, Marilynne Robinson, and Agatha Christie.
Had you already started writing as a teenager? If so, what kind of things did you write?
*Yes. I wrote a lot of short stories and beginnings of novels (never finished them) and incredibly, incredibly bad poetry. So bad. I am laughing right now just thinking about how bad it was
In your blog you refer to revision as “wrestling the whale”? Do you have any tricks that get you through the process?
*Yes. I only have six hours a week when I have someone helping with my kids so I am incredibly disciplined during those times because I have to be. The same goes for the evening when they’re asleep, or weekends when my husband takes them to the park. I also bribe myself with food or checking e-mail after I get a certain chunk of revision done.
Explain your writing process? Do you write in small bits, or long marathons? Do you listen to music, or eat Oreos, or go into isolation etc.
*I usually write in small bits, 1-2 hours, during naptime, after bedtime, etc. And then on the weekend I write a LOT on Saturdays. I don’t write on Sundays but I’m very good about making the time to write the rest of the week so that I can have that break. It’s good for me spiritually and mentally. I don’t listen to music when drafting (I do sometimes when revising), I drink LOTS of water, and when I am feeling tired I get up and go for a run or walk.
What do you hope readers take away from Matched?
*I hope my readers enjoy the story, first of all. I just want them to be interested, taken away, intrigued. And I want them to feel how wonderful choice and freedom are. But they probably already know that, anyway!
If you were to be matched with your perfect mate, who do you think would show up on your screen?
*My husband, of course. J But I was lucky because I got to choose him and he chose me, too. He’s amazing because he can do anything. When I met him, he was majoring in English teaching. And now he’s a professor of economics. He can do math and write sonnets, he composes songs on guitar and races triathlons. And he’s the kindest person I know. Yes, I am head over heels.