Interviewing Marieke Nijkamp

Marieke Nijkamp was kind enough to stop by and talk about This Is Where It Ends.

Did you always plan to have multiple narrators?
When I started working on THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS, one of the questions I wanted to explore was: “What does it mean to be in such a situation, where the world may end in the blink of an eye?” As such, I always knew I wanted to have multiple viewpoints and multiple narrators. It would be the only way to explore the various truths of the situation.
Related, did you always want to tell the story in real time?
That too. I wanted to keep the focus on the situation, on the constant changes, on never quite knowing what will happen next, from minute to minute even. Real time seemed like a good way to create that type of intensity.
Can you share the first sentence/paragraph?  
“The starter gun shatters the silence, releasing the runners from their blocks.”
I know This is Where it Ends has minority characters–can you talk about why that’s important?
Mirrors and windows. Mirrors, because this is the world. This is reality. And our stories ought to reflect that. Everyone deserves to have a hero. Everyone deserves to be a hero. And everyone deserves to see themselves reflected in stories.
Windows, because reading can teach us empathy. Because inclusive stories can help us move past othering and toward a better understanding of each other.

If you could make one book mandatory, what would it be, and why?

I don’t think that’s a matter of one size fits all, to be honest. There have been books, many of them, that shaped me as a human being, but what have been formative books for me will not necessarily be formative books for everyone else. We all bring different experiences and a different frame of reference to our reading, and as such, not every book works well for every reader. That’s perfectly fine. I’d much rather “Finding the RIGHT book for the right person” becomes a mandatory reading experience than forcing someone to read a book that bears no relevance to their life and as a result also teaches them that reading is Not For Them or Not Supposed To Be Enjoyable.
What are your five favorite books?  You can do authors, if that’s easier.
Oh my goodness, thanks for that loophole! I’m not sure I could’ve stuck to five books, and five authors is still quite a challenge! But if I had to choose, I’d say:
– Tamora Pierce, for lady knights and spies and queer girls and women who could do anything they set their mind too. I only discovered the Tortall series after my teens, but reading them felt like homecoming.
– Melina Marchetta, because both Jellicoe Road and her fantasy series The Lumatere Chronicles are amazing examples of what YA can be and what YA can do. Those books taught me so much about courageous storytelling.
– Nancy Garden, because Annie on my Mind and Good Moon Rising were two of the first books to show me it was okay to be queer. And that, especially when you’re struggling with your identity, means the absolute world.
And I would have to go for two Dutch authors as well:
– Tonke Dragt. Always, always, and forever. Her books were my biggest influence as a young writer and as a person. Her beautiful The Letter for the King has been expertly translated by Laura Watkinson and was recently published by Scholastic, so go read it.
– Thea Beckman, the Grand Lady of Dutch historical YA, whose stories brought European history to life, for me. Plus, she wrote a futuristic utopian YA trilogy where women ruled the world. So, you know, bonus points.
What books are you most excited for next year?
SO MANY. I’m looking forward to practically every debut in my class. So many wonderful and amazing stories across the genres! I can’t wait for Jeff Garvin’s SYMPTOMS OF BEING HUMAN and I’m so looking forward to rereading Audrey Coulthurst’s OF FIRE AND STARS too. Paula Garner’s PHANTOM LIMBS sounds *amazing* and what about Parker Peevyhouse’s WHERE FUTURES END?! I just recently had the change to read Traci Chee’s THE READER and it’s just stunning too.
In non-debuts, I can’t wait for Susan Dennard’s TRUTHWITCH and Victoria Schwab’s MONSTER. Natalie C. Parker’s BEHOLD THE BONES sounds just amazing and I covet Julie Murphy’s RAMONA DROWNING something fierce. I’m also greatly looking forward to Robin Talley’s AS I DESCENDED and Corinne Duyvis’s ON THE EDGE OF GONE hitting the shelves, because they’re both *amazing*. Oh, and I neeeeeed Adam Silvera’s HISTORY IS ALL YOU LEFT ME.
So honestly the worst part of this question is all the books I have to leave out. 2016 is going to be SUCH a good year for books. #allthebooks

Thanks, Marieke!

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