Monday, January 4, 2021

Monica Rodden

Monica Rodden lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband, Greg, and a dog who loves to chase everything. When not preventing Hamlet from terrorizing the local squirrel population, she writes murder mysteries for young adults...with a classic twist!

Rodden's new novel, her debut, is Monsters Among Us.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

It does a lot of work. I'm very grateful to my publishing team for the title. Before it was very English major-y: Whatever Our Souls Are Made Of (based off the quote from Wuthering Heights). While my book does take some inspiration from that classic novel, that title makes it sound almost like a romance--which the story most definitely is not! Monsters Among Us tells the reader immediately that this is a thriller novel with high stakes and danger lurking in the shadows.

What's in a name?

I want to answer this one so badly, but I can't without spoiling the ending! I put a great deal of thought into the first and last names of my characters, and each meaning is important to the storyline. There is one name I can discuss without giving anything away though: a dog called Molly, a name that can mean "rebellion." In Monsters Among Us, Molly is an elderly chocolate Lab who devolves into puppy-like chaos when she sees another dog (or a squirrel). Does she help solve the murder? Well, she does lend a paw or two... (I will stop with the dog jokes now).

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

Beginnings, 100%. Endings are fun and fast but beginnings can cause a sort of paralyzing self-doubt, leading to multiple rewrites. At least for me. I also judge books hard for their beginnings, so I'm extra tough on myself about them.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

Podcasts. I listen to This is Actually Happening and Terrible, Thanks for Asking, and of course a lot of true crime. But it's the two former examples--people just telling their stories--that have been an unexpected gift to my writing. Our own life is, by default, small and limited compared to the vast experiences of the whole of the world; there's no way to know it all, to empathize with so many different situations. But an hour of someone talking in your ear about how it feels to go through something you never have can stretch your mind and your writing to encompass, responsibly, more of the world.
Visit Monica Rodden's website.

--Marshal Zeringue