I’d like to welcome my friend and writer, Margarita Montimore, to the blog today to celebrate the exciting release of Asleep from Day! She and I got to know each other three years ago when she mentored me for a writing contest called Pitch Wars, and we’ve been friends ever since.
Welcome to my blog, Margarita! Let’s get started, shall we?
Name: Margarita Montimore
Book Title: Asleep from Day
Genre: Upmarket Fiction/Psychological Suspense
How would you describe your latest book in a couple of sentences?
Asleep from Day is about Astrid, a young woman recovering from being hit by a car who is unable to remember the twenty-four hours leading up to the accident. As she begins to piece together her lost day, she realizes she spent it with a mysterious stranger named Theo and goes searching for him. This sends her on a series of unusual misadventures throughout Boston, which make her question her sense of reality and wonder if Theo actually exists.
Boston plays such an important role in this book. What made you choose this setting?
I lived in Boston when I attended Emerson College and those were some of the most memorable years of my life. It was a time filled with inspiration, creativity, and all kinds emotional rollercoasters—the city was a great backdrop for all that. During a couple of visits in subsequent, I noticed the city changing, with many of my favorite places closing down. So I wanted to create a time capsule of the Boston I remembered, to revisit the city as I knew it, and to share what I loved about it with others. Most of the locations featured in the book were real places I frequented, including the diner, the clubs, and the Eatery in Chinatown (even the apartments are based on real ones). These places play an important role in the story and Astrid’s quest to recover her lost memories.
Was the decision on how to structure the novel obvious?
Not at all. In fact, the structure was one of the trickiest aspects of the story had to sort out because they are three narrative threads: Astrid’s present day, Astrid lost day, and her dreams. Weaving the three together into one cohesive story was like putting together a puzzle. It involved a wall of Post-its and multiple spreadsheets and I spent a lot of time rearranging the scenes until they fit into the right places.
If you were speaking to someone who hasn’t read your writing before, why should they want to read Asleep from Day?
I think the book could appeal to a variety of people, especially if they’re looking for something different. I’ve seen readers respond to the mystery and suspense elements, whereas others were drawn to the romance. Some just liked the offbeat and surreal nature of the book. I think fans of Liane Moriarty would enjoy it, but also fans of David Lynch. And there’s a discussion guide included for book clubs—the ending alone is sure to spark plenty of conversation!
Do you feel under pressure to make your main characters likable?
I do, because I think unless you’re writing a thriller it’s tough to get away with an unlikable protagonist. But I try not to think of it in terms of being likable as much as relatable. Giving readers a character they connect to can immerse them more deeply in a story, and we tend to connect with personality traits that reflect real people and real emotions. But when it comes to what I enjoy reading, I don’t mind an unlikable protagonist as long as they’re fascinating on some level, saying and/or doing things we wouldn’t, but drawing us into their narrative nonetheless because we want to find out what they’ll say or do next.
Does your day job help or hinder your writing?
When I worked full-time in social media, I wasn’t able to get much personal writing done. I enjoyed the work, but between the long hours and high-pressure situations, I had little creativity leftover for myself when I was off the clock. Now that I work part-time as a freelance editor/book coach, I find my current job does help my writing. Seeing what elements strengthen or weaken other people’s stories helps me identify things to improve in my own work. There been many times I’ve found issues that I’d pointed out to a client while revising pages I’ve written. And since my current hours are shorter and I can be more selective with the projects I choose, I have far less stress then I did before, and plenty more time to dedicate to writing.
What’s one piece of advice you would offer a writer who feels discouraged?
Keep writing and remember the love. It’s easy to get sidelined by the world outside of writing, by negativity, indifference, and rejection. You can’t control what happens in that world, but you can control the worlds you create. Focus on what you put on the page. Tell your stories and hone your craft. To borrow a line from Steve Martin, “be so good they can’t ignore you.”
Where can readers find your book and connect with you (website, blog, social media, etc.)?
So many places! Here are bunch of links:
Thank you, Margarita! Asleep from Day is available now.
Margarita Montimore received a BFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. She worked for over a decade in publishing and social media before deciding to focus on the writing dream full-time. She has blogged for Marvel, Google, Quirk Books, and XOJane.com. When not writing, she freelances as a book coach and editor. She grew up in Brooklyn but currently lives in a different part of the Northeast with her husband and dog.
Margarita writes upmarket/literary fiction that tends to be left of center and flirt with multiple genres. While she loves all things dark, strange, and surreal, she’s also optimistic—verging on quixotic—and a pop culture geek, so her work tends to incorporate all those elements to varying degrees.