trigger warning: school shooting
*this post includes affiliate links I have with Amazon*
Hello everyone! So, today on the blog I am interviewing Joseph Moldover, the author of Every Moment After*! It came out today (happy book birthday!), and I’m definitely intrigued! Before we get into the (not spoilery) interview, here is a synopsis of the book, via Goodreads:
Best friends Matt and Cole grapple with their changing relationships during the summer after high school in this impactful, evocative story about growing up and moving on from a traumatic past.
Surviving was just the beginning.
Eleven years after a shooting rocked the small town of East Ridge, New Jersey and left eighteen first graders in their classroom dead, survivors and recent high school graduates Matt Simpson and Cole Hewitt are still navigating their guilt and trying to move beyond the shadow of their town’s grief. Will Cole and Matt ever be able to truly leave the ghosts of East Ridge behind? Do they even want to?
As they grapple with changing relationships, falling in love, and growing apart, these two friends must face the question of how to move on—and truly begin living.
1. To start off, how did you come up with the idea for Every Moment After and what was first running through your mind right after you thought of the idea for it?
I had the idea for Every Moment After while attending a concert at my son’s elementary school. It was early in the morning and I was looking around and thinking about all of the years I had been visiting that school and going to events there. I had been at the school several years earlier when I heard about the shooting in Newtown, and I was thinking about that, about how time moves on but the memory of that day remains so fresh. And what struck me, as I was sitting in that concert, was that life was also moving on for those people, for the people who had actually experienced that terrible tragedy – they were having school concerts, and middle school dances, and math finals. All of the prosaic things in life were happening, and I wondered what that was like when the most terrible thing you can imagine was there, in background, in everyone’s shared history.
2. Similarly, the book is based on really heavy subject matter that is very sensitive and can be very triggering for people, so – and I mean this in the most curious and kind way possible -, why did you want to write this book?
I felt frustrated and angry that we, as a society, keep on turning away from the problem of violence in general and school shootings in particular. They happen with terrible frequency, we focus on them intensively for a few days, and then the media and the national conversation move on. But the people in these communities don’t move on, they are left with years of pain. I wanted to re-focus on that story and to remind myself and everyone else that it doesn’t go away when the TV crews go on to the next thing.
3. What research did you do to write Every Moment After? I feel like it would be really hard to write something like this without having experienced it or something very similar…
Most of my research was on technical issues having to do with the story. Cole, for instance, is a bit of an amateur botanist and so I consulted with a biologist to make sure that what I was doing with plants was correct. There is a hot air balloon, and I spoke with a balloon company about how that works. None of the book is autobiographical, though there are aspects of my childhood and my experience as a parent that inform the emotional life of the story.
4. As well, were there any specific experiences in your life that you think lend themselves to you becoming a writer/writing Every Moment After?
My “day job” is as a child psychologist, and one of the things I get to do is to follow children and families over the course of years. I’ve never been involved with survivors of a shooting like the one in my book, but I do see the way in which trauma is carried, in individuals and in families, for many years, and how it manifests in different ways.
5. Is Cole or Matt based on you or anyone you know in real life?
Cole lost his father shortly before the start of the book and his mother is still in mourning. I had a friend in high school who lost his father to cancer and his house felt to me like a place of perpetual sorrow. Things just seemed frozen in time. That place formed the basis for Cole’s house and his backstory.
6. If you weren’t a writer, what do you think your job would be?
It seems like cheating to stick with my job as a psychologist…so I’ll say that I think I would have been a pretty good lawyer, maybe a public defender. Lawyers try to construct narratives that are not only accurate but also compelling, and I think that there’s probably some overlap with what we do as writers in that.
7. What is your favorite thing about writing and what is your least favorite thing?
My favorite thing is connecting with a reader who has responded to my work. That’s wonderful, when I’ve done my best to infuse a piece of writing with my emotions and someone is on the other end, receiving.
The worst thing is when I get stuck. I can thrash around with a piece for months, feeling lost, losing perspective. It’s like being trapped in a house of mirrors and not knowing how to get out.
8. Was there anything you found surprising either in writing the book or in the pre-debut process in general?
It’s sort of a cliché to say that the hard work begins after the book is written, but I had no idea how much time and energy goes into bringing a work from a completed manuscript to a book on a shelf – not just from me, but from a whole team of really talented people. It’s pretty incredible.
9. And, for the final question, is there any advice you have for writers hoping to become a published author?
Do everything you can to write every day, ideally at a consistent time and place. When I feel like I’ve had a break-through with a piece it is usually because I’ve been maintaining a steady routine.
And that’s all for the interview! Thank you to Joseph for answering my questions! Feel free to follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and make sure to check out his book Every Moment After*! Now, have you read Every Moment After? If so, what did you think? Let me know in the comments below!! (no spoilers please) Thanks, have a great day/night, and tata for now
*this post includes affiliate links I have with Amazon 😀