Kimberly McCreight Answers: Reconstructing Amelia (Spoilers Possible!)

It’s here! Today is the day that Kimberly McCreight stops by and answers recon ameliaquestions for Book Lovers Unite Online Book Club about her book- Reconstructing Amelia.

NOTE: There is the potential of spoilers.

Thank you, Kim, for taking time today to answer questions!

Questions for Kimberly McCreight:

1. Did you know from the very beginning who would hurt Amelia?

 
2. What is your all-time favorite book?

 
3. What kinds of books do you like to read?

 
4. Did you attend a prep school like Amelia’s or participate in any sororities?

 

 

5, Where did you get the idea for this story?

 
6. Is any of this story based on personal experience?

 
7. Did you have a target audience in mind when writing the book?

 

 

8. What are you currently reading?

 

 

9. If RA was turned into a movie who would you cast?

 
10. The ups and downs of family relationships is at the heart of RA. Was it easy or difficult to write about this?

 
11. Where do you write? Do you have any rituals?

 

 

12. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

 

 

13. What is your advice for parents on how to deal with parenting in the digital age?

 
14. Any truth to what happens in RA? Was there an inspiration?

 
15. What is the best book you’ve recently read?

 

 

16. The cover of Reconstructing Amelia– is there significance to not really being able to see the girl’s face? Is she covering herself? Or possibly revealing herself bit by bit?

 

 

17. The school and police was quick to write off Amelia’s death as a suicide. Possibly did some of that quick conclusion come from a motive of wanting a quick answer so Kate would never get involved in the school and learn things?

 

 

18. Amelia’s downfall- what ultimately lead to that? Loving Dylan? Or being a good friend? Or does Kate not being truthful about Amelia’s father lead to her downfall?

 

 

19. Why did the principal target Amelia for the truth about the Magpies? Was it because of Amelia’s good girl reputation? Or because, unlike other parent’s, Kate was not involved in the school- therefore Kate would not be in his business like other parents?

 

 

20. The author of graceFULLY- how did you decide who that should be?

Thank you again, Kimberly McCreight! Answering our questions about Reconstructing Amelia is 100% appreciated! I think I can speak for everyone when I say how great Reconstructing Amelia was- and that we are anxiously awaiting another book!

40 thoughts on “Kimberly McCreight Answers: Reconstructing Amelia (Spoilers Possible!)

  1. 1. Did you know from the very beginning who would hurt Amelia?

    I knew that it wasn’t a suicide and that she wouldn’t have been physically pushed by one of the Maggie’s but I didn’t have any more details worked out than that.

  2. 2. What is your all-time favorite book?

    I don’t have a single favorite book, but a few of my many favorites are: The Hours, Michael Cunningham; Great Expectations, Charles Dickens; While I Was Gone, Sue Miller; Little Children, Tom Perrotta; She’s Come Undone, Wally Lamb; Secret HIstory, Donna Tartt; The Weight of Water, Anita Shreve; A Single Shot, Matthew Jones. I love the books of Jodi Picoult, Gillian Flynn and Laura Lippman, too.

    3. What kinds of books do you like to read?

    I read a real range. In general, contemporary literary mysteries are a favorite, but when I’m working on a new book, I prefer to stick with non-fiction so as not to confuse myself.

  3. 4. Did you attend a prep school like Amelia’s or participate in any sororities?

    I attended a private boarding school in New Jersey that wasn’t like the fictional Grace Hall, except that it was small and many of the students came from privileged backgrounds. Oh and my visual for the main building interior was based in part on my memory of our main building.

    5, Where did you get the idea for this story?

    First and foremost, it came from my own experiences as a mother–my fear for my daughters as they age. Most of the bits and pieces came from various news accounts often of cuber-bullying and its devastating effects.

    6. Is any of this story based on personal experience?

    No, except for the neighborhood details. Not all of them are accurate either. The school, for instance, does not exist, but many of the businesses do, though I had to move some to suit the story.

    7. Did you have a target audience in mind when writing the book?

    I think I write the book that I want to read. So the audience is me? That sounds awfully narcissistic. I do think of what would be satisfying to a general reader–meaning a stranger picking up my book– but I don’t apply demographic details to that–i.e. male/female/young/old

  4. 8. What are you currently reading?

    The Cover of Snow by Jenny Milchman. I’m really enjoying it.

    9. If RA was turned into a movie who would you cast?

    HBO has optioned the film rights with Nicole Kidman to play Kate. I could not be more thrilled.

    10. The ups and downs of family relationships is at the heart of RA. Was it easy or difficult to write about this?

    I think family relationships are rife with ups and downs–or maybe that’s just my family. Regardless, it was not hard to imagine any of that. The loss of a child was obviously difficult to write about, but to be honest it wasn’t until I had some distance and went to read a section in public at my book launch that it really hit me. I read the end of the first chapter when Kate hears Amelia is dead and I started to cry in front of 80 people.

    11. Where do you write? Do you have any rituals?

    I write at a coffee shop these days but for years it was at home. As for rituals, excessive coffee and the chewing of copious amounts of Trident gum.

    • Kim-

      I haven’t read Cover of Snow (YET) but I met Jenny Milchman and she’s fantastic- very interesting. Her book is near the top of my TBR list!

      Fabulous news about HBO and Nicole Kidman! I think she will make a great Kate. Have they cast anyone else? Will you get any input in cast?

      Family relationships- I love reading about family relationships! When Kate finds out about Amelia- I can see where that is very emotional- especially for a mother!

  5. 12. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

    Get a good critique group and heed the helpful feedback–toss the unhelpful, cutting kind. It’s impossible to get better as a writer without learning what you’re doing that doesn’t work. And it’s impossible to learn that in a vacuum. A class works great too. I took several myself and most at extension programs in universities (elsewhere too probably) have a group critique component.

    13. What is your advice for parents on how to deal with parenting in the digital age?

    I answered this in a more lengthy way for an upcoming Q & A for Tamara’s blog, but I will say that I think first and foremost making sure your kids know that they are loved–so that they will hopefully have the strength to come to you when things fall to crap. Research suggests that a child feeling loved is the single most important thing. Setting a great example in how you use electronic media is important too. Finally, I plan to monitor the heck out of my own children when they start using electronic media, though I know this is easy for me to say. My girls are still young.

    14. Any truth to what happens in RA? Was there an inspiration?

    RA was not based on any specific real events or any one situation, school or group of people. It is an imagined twist on an amalgam of real events. But I absolutely think versions of the story play out every day across the country. Many of those real-life bullying stories were certainly an inspiration.

    15. What is the best book you’ve recently read?

    Best? Hmmm. That’s like choosing between your children. Even if I could, it feels like it would be wrong to do so. But I just finished Sharp Objects which was fantastic and The Fault in our Stars which I loved.

    • 12. Thank you for the author advice- I think we have 1 or 2 in the #bookloversunite that have some author dreams!

      13. Yes! And your interview will be posted tomorrow!

      14. How liable are the schools (in your opinion?) This was something we debated all during the reading of Reconstructing Amelia!

      15. Sharp Objects- that twisty and wonderful Gillian Flynn kept me up for a night devouring that book! I have not read Fault in Our Stars- but so many people say it’s so good!

      • 14. I can’t speak to schools in any one, real-life situation as each situation is different obviously. But I will say that I personally think we would all be better off if schools took responsibility for these situations–harassment between students–whether or not it happens on school grounds. I think if both parties are students schools should have jurisdiction. Because the schools aren’t wrong when they say they don’t have jurisdiction over things that don’t happen on school grounds. Often, legally they don’t.

        I think schools are better equipped than police to respond to these issues, though, both the police and schools are already hopelessly overburdened trying to manage those things in their clear purview.

        I think what we need above all else is clarity: who is responsible? Who do we turn to when are kids are harassed via text in the middle of the night. I don’t even know in my family’s case who it would be–the school, the police? At a minimum, I think we should strive for some kind of uniformity and I would err on the side of more school involvement.

        In R.A., the school was very much responsible I think, though clearly there were individual parents to blame as well.

      • Exactly! My point had been “in loco parentis” and while yes, the parents should have responsibility, should know what their child is doing- the school should also be aware, as well.

        It’s a complicated issue- and with social media, smartphones and the like- I don’t see it getting easier.

        Grace Hall- at it’s core- for RA, did not stand up for it’s students due to being pressured by certain people on the school board. I often wonder how many schools are like this- how many principals are out there that know something wrong is going on- and yet feel/are powerless to stop it?

    • Loved your answer about making sure your children feel loved to protect them from the sting of pain when people bully them.
      I read TFIOS as well, and it’s definitely in my top 5 of all time!
      Enjoyed hearing your answers, Kimberly!

  6. 16. The cover of Reconstructing Amelia- is there significance to not really being able to see the girl’s face? Is she covering herself? Or possibly revealing herself bit by bit?

    I think it’s absolutely significant. With the frayed edges it looks to me like a photograph ripped in half or painted roughly over. But I see it more from Kate’s POV–what there is left of her daughter that she can see. Or that she ever saw.

    17. The school and police was quick to write off Amelia’s death as a suicide. Possibly did some of that quick conclusion come from a motive of wanting a quick answer so Kate would never get involved in the school and learn things?

    Definitely. Aided by Detective Molina as well. He made the suicide finding, working at the behest of Adele.

    18. Amelia’s downfall- what ultimately lead to that? Loving Dylan? Or being a good friend? Or does Kate not being truthful about Amelia’s father lead to her downfall?

    What happened to Amelia was the result of countless moving parts, none of which on its own would have been enough without the toxic bullying. In the end, Amelia really was bullied to death, even if she didn’t jump to her death as a result. There are a lot of “if only’s” in the story–if only this or that hadn’t happened Amelia would be alive. That’s intentional. Part of what I was trying to convey was what a complicated tangle life as a teenager can be. It’s further complicated by electronic media and the lightening speed with which it disseminates every bad decision a teenager makes. Also how permanent it can make what would have once been very temporary mistakes.

    19. Why did the principal target Amelia for the truth about the Magpies? Was it because of Amelia’s good girl reputation? Or because, unlike other parent’s, Kate was not involved in the school- therefore Kate would not be in his business like other parents?

    He focused on Amelia because she was on the edge of getting sucked in and because he believed that she was a fundamentally good kid getting swept up in something dangerous. He was trying to help her, though one could argue that his efforts–no matter how well intentioned–fell far short.

    • 16. I love this cover. I def felt it was about what Kate could see- or possibly was discovering.

      17. Detective Molina- I like to think that 1 day he gets his just desserts for working for Adele.

      18. Exactly! While there were things that people could “what if”- it really was a combination- and she was absolutely bullied to death. Which is so beyond sad!

      19. I just kept going to back to parents like Adele and others in this situation, always involved in school- and here, Kate, was a workaholic that had a daughter that might would have been easier to get info out of. . I think he had good intentions with Amelia (although he did fall short). I wished he had been able to get through to her.

  7. 20. The author of graceFULLY- how did you decide who that should be?

    Like all the details of the book, that came from the characters. Once I had them figured out, they told their own story. Though who’s behind the blog is very much about social media, too, and how I think it has distanced so many from reality and the real consequences of what they’re doing–adults as well as teens.

  8. Thanks so much for having me Tamara! And also for all of you reading Reconstructing Amelia. It has been such an honor to be the first book in your virtual club! Hope you all have a wonderful summer!! All the best, Kim

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