When I asked her about the new installment in the series, here's what she had to say ...
KC: You have described In A Handful of Dust as more of a companion novel to Not a Drop to Drink than a true sequel, even though we do find out more about what happened to Lynn in this book. What made you decide to take this approach for your second book rather than picking up right where you left off in the first book?
MM: I knew I needed to expand the world for DUST. DRINK takes place in a very small area, and I wanted to explore elsewhere. There's already a fantastic post-apoc story about a parent and child crossing the US (THE ROAD by McCarthy) so I knew I didn't want the same setup. The alternative was to either write Lucy out (which I felt would undermine a lot of Lynn's character development from book one) or age her up and make her the protagonist. So I went with the second option.
KC: While In A Handful of Dust is Lucy’s story, in a sense it’s also Lynn’s story. We learn almost as much about Lynn’s goals and dreams for her future as well as Lucy’s, yet the story is told from Lucy’s point of view. Did you ever consider writing from dual perspectives or was this always going to be Lucy’s book?
MM: Technically I'm a YA writer with a YA imprint, and Lynn is in her late twenties in DUST. So Lucy definitely needed to be the main character.
KC: When reading this book I kept being reminded of Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road”. In some ways this is a girl-power version of that story. You even title Part 2 of the book “The Road”. Is this an intentional homage to McCarthy? Where did you get your inspiration for this book?
MM: I definitely had The Road in mind when I was writing, mostly because I wanted to make sure I wasn't imitating it too much. The inspiration for DUST mostly came from the concept of exploring the country outside of Lynn's little area, so the plot just grows from that seed. I needed a compelling reason for Lynn to leave her pond, so I had to infect the water and... the plot just spins and grows as I go.
KC: This second book in the series is much more expansive than the first in terms of geographical scope. The landscapes the two women traverse are many and varied. How did you approach the scene setting with respect to the many places you included? Did you do a lot of research on geography and then imagine how these places would look in the post-apocalyptic future?
MM: I owe a lot to Google maps, honestly. I actually plotted a path for them to take, because I needed very specific settings for certain things. A bridge in a small town, higher elevation points to cross the mountains, etc. So I would take my little yellow man on Google maps and drop him down in the path I'd plotted, use the 360 option and take a look at my setting. Extremely useful.
KC: You write both short stories and novels. Do you have a preferred format? What are some of the challenges of writing a short story versus a novel?
MM: Whatever fits the story best. A lot of my little ideas simply aren't made for a novel, so I always know on conception whether it's a novel or a short. Writing a short story is harder in a lot of ways. You have a minimum amount of space to make a real character, create tension, and execute a plot.
KC: What are you working on now? Any plans to write anything else in Lynn and Lucy’s world?
MM: I have a lot going on right now! My next release is A MADNESS SO DISCREET, a Gothic historical thriller set in an insane asylum. It releases Oct. 6, 2015 from Katherine Tegen Books. In 2016 I have a dark contemporary, also coming from KT Books, and I recently announced that I will be launching a fantasy series, GIVEN TO THE SEA, in Spring of 2017 with Putnam.
With all this in store I don't have any immediate plans to return to the world of DRINK & DUST. I think Lynn and Lucy's stories have been told. If I did anything it would be a prequel that featured a younger Stebbs and Mother.
Thanks for having me!
And thanks for visiting again. We look forward to your next books with GREAT anticipation!!!