Saturday, September 19, 2020

Marieke Nijkamp

photo credit: Karin Nijkamp
Marieke Nijkamp is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of YA novels, graphic novels, and comics, including This Is Where It Ends, Even If We Break, and The Oracle Code. Her short stories can be found in several anthologies. Nijkamp is a storyteller, dreamer, globe-trotter, and geek.

My Q&A with the author:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

I’m fairly good at titling short stories, but my novel titles are rarely mine alone. In this case, the working title for the book was All The Darkest Parts Of Us. And it’s true enough—it’s a story about a group of teens who go to a cabin in the woods one last time to play the RPG that bound them, only for their game to turn deadly, with their secrets threatening to break them.

But it’s not just a thriller about secrets, self-discovery, and growing up. It’s also what happens when friendships start to fragment and all those hairline fractures none of the characters wanted to acknowledge, grow.

Hence, Even If We Break. With much gratitude to my editor, who is wonderful at taking snippets from the book and turning them into spectacular titles.

What's in a name?

I love naming characters, and I spend far too much time on name meaning websites. I’m not always looking for names with specific meanings (though there is that too), but I also try to make sure the names fit together. That they don’t all sound alike, for example.

In this case, there are the characters’ names, but also the names they use for the characters they play. To make sure that didn’t get confusing, name and character name all start with the same letter. So Finn plays Feather, Liva plays Lente, and so on.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your novel?

Only surprised that it’s a whole lot more contemporary than what I read at the time. I read so much fantasy. (I still do.) But I also was an avid roleplayer, so the RPG part wouldn’t surprise teen!me in the slightest.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

Quite a few of the characters here have bits and pieces of me. For example: Ever, the game master, is nonbinary, like I am. Maddy is autistic, and I am too. It was important to me to have that representation in the book, because it’s sadly still too rare. And I’m really grateful that I got to explore those elements of identity here.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

Music. Games. Playing RPGs with friends. Taking long walks outside. Things like that.
Visit Marieke Nijkamp's website.

The Page 69 Test: This Is Where It Ends.

The Page 69 Test: Before I Let Go.

--Marshal Zeringue