Q&A: Mary Stewart Atwell

author_mary-stewart-atwell_photoHow did you get the idea for Wild Girls?

I started writing a novel about teaching in a boarding school, but then I was also inspired by my husband who works in the movie industry. All the genres he works with on a daily basis includes fantasy, and super heroes and I thought it would be fun to create those type of characters and how living on one path can create such a destructive life.

Which Wild Girls character was the hardest to write? The easiest to write?

I spent a lot of time on Willow. How would the reader be able to understand her, why would you be friends with her? What’s her charm, personality like? How did growing up changer her? How did she change from being a normal teenager to this magnetic person? It was a balancing act trying to get her to be motivated by realistic problems. I also had to rewrite her character a lot.

The easiest character to write would be Kate. She was the loudest and clearest character pictured in my head. Having both Caroline and Clancy as the voice of reason was also easy to include in Kate’s relationship.


Social classes and friendship are important issues in the book, what did you want readers to learn from reading Wild Girls?

I wanted to surprise my readers. Where Kate lived reflected the place where I grew up. I had to get out of my hometown, and I hope younger readers will know there’s more to the world than their small hometown. I also wanted readers to realize Kate’s destructive effects of growing up. Peer pressure, family issues, friendships, etc.


Describe your writing spot in detail.

My writing spot is in my son’s playroom in my small house. My desk and chair are situated in one corner. I needed a place to write my short stories, and it was a good place to watch my son and write at the same time. It’s always so hard to find the discipline and the drive to just write anywhere. Coffee shops are also a good place where I write.


If you could have any literary best friend, who would it be and why?

I would love to have Dorothea Brooke as a best friend from George Eliot’s Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life. She really spoke to me, and I find her to be such a strong woman who formed her own path and life. Another character I would love to have as a best friend would be Elizabeth Benett because she’s strong-willed and humourous. And lastly, Anne from Anne of Green Gables because she was such a great character who had such a wonderful imagination.


What was the last book you read?

Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon.


Do you have any other projects coming up?

I have a new novel coming up about a daughter who goes missing in the ’70s. She’s a feminist icon who is dealing with her expectations, and rough way of life.

About the Author

MARY STEWART ATWELL (who goes by Polly) was born in Roanoke, Virginia in 1978 and went to Interlochen, a boarding school in Michigan. She received her MA in Literature at University of Virginia and an MFA in fiction from Washington University in St. Louis.

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  1. Erika

    November 22, 2012 at 11:13 PM

    Thanks for the interview! It is fun to meet new authors and hear how their ideas were discovered!

  2. Tiff @ Mostly YA Lit

    November 21, 2012 at 9:43 AM

    Hey Giselle, great interview! May I make a tiny suggestion? Can you add a link to your review of Wild Girls? After reading this interview, I really wanted to read your review, and I bet others would appreciate a link, too! =)

    • Giselle

      December 5, 2012 at 10:13 PM

      Oh yess I definitely have to add the review in. Thanks for the suggestion Tiff!

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