What do you think it is about the road-trip narrative that appeals so well to teen readers?
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, stepping out your front door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” Tolkien got it. Because WHO doesn’t want to be Frodo in this scenario? We imagine Bilbo saying these words to us, speaking of mountains and elves and dragons and man: Is it time to go yet? I won’t speak for other readers, but I think part of why I’m so drawn to a journey story is because it’s an outward display of every character’s inward struggle: How do I get from here to there? You could set an entire book in one room, and that question still holds true.
How did your musical background and growing up in the South influence this book?
I did spend quite a few years of my childhood in Jackson, Mississippi, but we also lived in northern Ohio and central Kentucky and Nashville, and I also lived in England for a bit when I was in high school. So I’m not sure growing up in the South had any great influence on the book, but certainly moving around a lot did. In its infancy, Mosquitoland was going to be a story about a new kid at school. It was something I was quite familiar with and wanted to explore. But once I realized the key was back in Ohio, I knew I had to get Mim on the road. Even so, I tried to keep this sort of “new kid” mentality throughout the book.
If you could sit next to anyone (real or fictional) for a 1,000-mile bus ride, who would you choose?
I’m going to cheat and give you three: Elliott Smith, Aaron Sorkin and Samwise Gamgee.
A big thanks for the interview to Book Page!