“Breakfast with Neruda” is a novel that follows the life of two troubled teenagers named, Michael and Shelly, as they try to solve Michael’s situation and discover who they are while serving out their community service duties (click here for the full review). I loved the book so much, I had to get an interview with the author.
Leigh-Ann Brodber: First of all, thank you for partaking in this interview!
Laura Moe: Thank you so much.
Leigh-Ann Brodber:I loved reading Breakfast with Neruda and I think it’s definitely a book I’ll be adding to my “To Re-read” pile. With that said, let’s start!
LB: Why did you decide to write this novel?
LM: I’m not sure I had much to do with the decision. My characters sort of used me as a channel to tell their story.
LB: I’m curious about the characters in your novel and was wondering whether or not they were based on real people or are purely fictional characters?
LM: The only character based on a real person is Earl, the custodian. He is modelled after a now deceased custodian I worked with a number of years ago. Michael, Shelly and the rest are fictional, yet some of the things that happened to them are culled from real events.
LB: What scene in the novel was your favourite to write about?
LM: I really enjoyed when Michael and Shelly decided to drive in the country and crash a family reunion. In that scene both Shelly and Michael are relaxed and letting down some of their barriers. That scene also reminds me of taking long drives in the country when I lived in Ohio.
LB: Which character did you like the most?
LM: I love all of them, flaws and all. Perhaps the question for me is which character I like the least, and that would be Rick, the ex-best friend. But of course if it weren’t for Rick, Michael wouldn’t have had community service and he wouldn’t have met Shelly.
LB: Which character was the most difficult for you to write about?
LM: Michael’s mother Susan is such a lovely yet complex character. I wanted to be sure her story reflects how she evolved into her hoarding addiction and to make sure she is a sympathetic character and not a joke or an ogre.
LB: If you were in Michael’s or Shelly’s position, what would you have done?
LM: I’d like to say I would have been rational and asked for helped, but as a teenager, I think I would have done just as they did.
LB: I’ve recently started reading some of Pablo Neruda’s poems. What other poets would you recommend for young adults?
LM: I’m so glad you asked. When Billy Collins was Poet Laureate, his project was called Poetry 180, a website which posts a poem for every day of the school year. The site is still up, and there are also two books connected with it. It includes many contemporary poets along with the old “dead guys” students roll their eyes at. Yet the context in which students read poems is crucial; poetry needs to be relatable so it can open a door. One of my favourite poets when I was in high school was, and still is, Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
LB: How do people attempt to get help for their hoarding addiction (even when they’re unwilling like Michael’s mother)? Is there like a “Hoarders’ Hotline”?
LM: There are several social services available to hoarders, many of which are subsidized by the government. The biggest difficulty is the hoarder’s willingness to see he or she needs help. The second hurdle is for the hoarder to let go of things. It’s a psychological disorder that goes beyond just calling a cleaning service.
LB: Are you currently working on any other books similar to Breakfast with Neruda?
LM: I’m working on a sequel to the book. I hadn’t planned to write a series, but Michael and Shelly appeared in my dreams and told me their story wasn’t done yet.
LB: Were there multiple endings to the book or did you know exactly how you wanted to end it?
LM: I pretty much knew from the first draft how this story would end. I changed the setting and the wording of the final paragraph, but essentially the ending is the same.
~end of interview~
Once again, thanks to Laura Moe for taking time out to do this interview and I can’t wait for her new book to come out!