Interview with Maddie Dawson
Tell us about your book.
The Opposite of Maybe is a funny, sad story about Rosie Kelley, a woman who finds herself pregnant (unexpectedly so) at the ripe age of 44, just as she happens to be noticing a few cracks in her relationship with her long-time live-in man. They have separated for a few months while he goes off to start a teacup museum (yup, Rosie couldn’t believe it either) and she moves back home with her difficult, starting-to-get-dementia grandmother, Soapie. Now on her own, and finding out she’s pregnant—years after her good friends have all had babies who turned into teenagers—she has a whole bunch of decisions to make: should she stay with Mr. Teacups, should her grandmother go to a nursing home, and is it fair to have a baby at this stage in life, when she is, as she puts it, “unequipped in every way measurable: financially, emotionally, physically, psychologically, spiritually, probably even pharmaceutically”? What Rosie does next surprised even me—and I was writing the book!
How do you come up with characters?
When you’re a writer, characters are known to just show up in your head and start telling their story. My theory is that there are a whole bunch of characters just circling around, looking for someone who isn’t busy and who will do their typing for them, and once they decide you’re it, they don’t leave you alone. Honestly, they wake me up in the middle of the night, interrupt me while I’m talking or driving or watching movies, and if they weren’t so entertaining, I would insist they leave me alone and then I’d go off and do tax preparation work or something. But I sort of fall in love with them. And then, of course, the day comes when they finish telling me everything they know, and they leave. They were just using me after all.
What are the best and worst parts about being a writer?
Well, I’m kind of a social person, so sometimes the worst part is all the time I need to spend alone, listening to imaginary people chatting me up. I get starved for flesh and blood people, human beings, and so I find myself making lunch dates, talking on the phone, giving writing classes, and generally thinking up excuses to go out in public to see the other humans. But this in no way takes away from the BEST PART, which is that you get to create a whole world right there from your own head, and sometimes just spending a summer afternoon fiddling with the order of words in a sentence—and then getting it RIGHT—well, there’s nothing that compares. I think any kind of creative work takes you right out of your own head, and suddenly you realize that five hours has passed, and you’ve been happy the whole time.
What’s the next best thing about being a writer?
I love it when I write something that other people can relate to and when they believe in the characters. It doesn’t even matter to me if they like the characters all that much—sometimes characters, just like people in real life, misbehave and don’t do things the right way—but when somebody really believes that person is real—well, I adore it!
My last book, The Stuff That Never Happened, is about a happily married woman who is looking back at an affair she had early in her marriage, an affair that nearly destroyed everything– and I’ve been astonished by how many older women have taken me aside and whispered that this happened to them, too. And that they were able to patch up their marriage finally—but oh, the longing to be back there again! They would get such a wistful look in their eyes.
What are you working on now?
Now I’ve fallen in love with a whole new character—Annie Popkin—who was adopted as an infant and now that she’s 35 and her adopted parents have died, is trying to find her biological family. In fact, she’s kind of OBSESSED with finding her people just so she can know who she really belongs to, for no particular reason except that she wants to know things like where they like to go on vacation, what they name their dogs, who they vote for, and what they like to talk about around the dinner table after all the food is gone. She’s also in love with a man who’s helping her find her family, but then she realizes…oh, never mind! I can’t tell the whole story NOW. That would be crazy!
Want more information? Go to my website at http://www.maddiedawson.com
Or to my page on facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/pages/maddiedawson
Or follow me on twitter at @maddiedawson1.
You can also email me at email@example.com.