Interview with Morgan Matson

Posted by Goodreads on June 11, 2018
Morgan Matson has charmed YA contemporary fans with hits like The Unexpected Everything and Amy & Roger's Epic Detour. Now, she follows up her success with her latest novel, Save the Date. Taking place during a single weekend, the story follows Charlie Grant, a young woman whose life is about to change. She'll be heading to college, her parents are planning to sell their home, and her sister is about to get married.

"So in the face of all this change, Charlie is doing everything she can to make sure her sister's wedding is perfect," says Matson. "Unfortunately, the wedding is shaping up to be an absolute disaster." But in the midst of all the hijinks and mishaps, Charlie will learn things about herself and her family that she never expected—and she'll need to let go of the past in order to embrace the future.

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Goodreads: What inspired you to write Save the Date?

Morgan Matson: There were a few different inspirations for this book. In my last novel, The Unexpected Everything, one of the protagonist's friends in the story came from a big, five-kid family. I kept putting in a ton of detail about her family, even though this was not the main character. My editor kept telling me to take out these details about characters that we would never meet, and he was totally right. But I just kept thinking of the dynamics of a big family like that, what it would be like to grow up in one, and the idea really stuck with me.

I also wanted to write a story that centered on a family, and I wanted it to take place in a short time frame. My last three books have all taken place in a whole summer, and I wanted to shake that up. And I grew up reading and loving newspaper comics and wanted a bit of an homage to them.

GR: What lessons have you learned since writing your previous books? How did they affect your approach to writing Save the Date?

MM: I feel like with every book, you learn something—sometimes the hard way! Save the Date was the most challenging book I've written so far. It's a very compressed timeline (three days), and there are a ton of characters. But I feel like I learned so much from The Unexpected Everything, which also has a large cast. There are a lot of scenes in that book with six or seven people, and writing it gave me the confidence to feel like I could expand that even further in Save the Date. But one thing I kept hearing from readers was that they felt like The Unexpected Everything—my longest book to date—was too slow. As a result, I worked so hard on the pacing of Save the Date. I wanted it to feel like you're on a fun ride, and hopefully the pace never drags.

GR: Your novels are such fan favorites in the YA contemporary romance space. What drew you to this genre?

MM: I love this genre! I honestly think it's the most fun, and I have such a good time playing in this particular sandbox. It wasn't a conscious decision to write it—it was just what I was drawn to from the beginning. I love this genre because I feel like it's a way to write about a lot of things: family and friendship and identity, in addition to romance. But I always have the most fun writing the romance! There's nothing like coming up with the swooniest love interest possible and (hopefully) letting sparks fly.

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GR: What can you tell us about your book's main character, Charlie Grant?

MM: Charlie is a senior in high school, and unlike her best friend, Siobhan, she's not really looking forward to going to college or getting out of her hometown. So many of her best memories revolve around her house and her family, and she's beyond excited to have everyone back home for the wedding and to get to be with her siblings again. She was not expecting the weekend to go so quickly off the rails—or for her longtime crush, Jesse Foster, to suddenly show up again. She thought she had things figured out (with her family, and her plans for the future), and this is the weekend that upends everything she thought.

GR: What can you tell us about Charlie's relationship with her family? Why is it so important for her to spend "one last perfect weekend" with them?

MM: It's so important to Charlie that everything go perfectly because I think she can feel that everything is about to change. And she's not handling this prospect of change well; she's in denial about it. So rather than face up to that, she's throwing herself into a project. I loved writing her, because I'm like Charlie in that I also do not handle change well and tend to deny or ignore it for as long as I can! But I feel like we've all had those moments of trying to pretend everything is totally fine while the world is crashing down all around us. Not fun to live through, but really fun to write!

GR: What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

MM: I hope they feel like they've been a part of the Grant family for the weekend and they've been on this crazy adventure with the family through all their ups and downs. I hope that readers have as much fun spending time with these characters as I had writing them.

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GR: What young adult books would you recommend to our readers?

MM: I can't speak highly enough about Siobhan Vivian's Stay Sweet, Jennifer E. Smith's Windfall, Maurene Goo's The Way You Make Me Feel, and Mary H.K. Choi's Emergency Contact. And I'm a huge Sarah Dessen fan. I've read everything she's published, but I always reread one of her books at least once a summer. They're perfect poolside and beach reads!

GR: What writing projects are you working on now?

MM: I'm not going to say too much yet about my new novel—it's still a ways away, since it won't be published until 2020. But it's the most ambitious project I've ever embarked on, and it's got a bigger scope than any of my novels so far. I actually got the idea for it back in 2015, and have been thinking about it ever since. I'm equally terrified and so excited to work on it, which I hope means I'm on the right track!

GR: What books do you plan to read next?

MM: On the top of my Want to Read shelf is the final book in the Penderwicks series, The Penderwicks at Last. Also Jason Reynolds' Long Way Down, Brendan Kiely's Tradition, Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler, and Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina. In terms of what I'm impatiently waiting for, I'm dying to read King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo and Lethal White, the new Cormoran Strike book by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling!).

Morgan Matson's Save the Date is now available. Don't forget to add it to your Want to Read shelf! Be sure to also read more of our exclusive author interviews, and get more great book recommendations.

Comments Showing 1-10 of 10 (10 new)

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Angela Mahlberg Thank you for the great recomendation ! I can't wait to read so h good r eads.

Angela Mahlberg Please excuse the spelling error.

Angela Mahlberg The sentence should be read, such good reads.

message 4: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Great interview! I went to a book signing with her last week and she was such a great person to talk to. I am reading Save the Date and trying to go slowly through it to make it last!

message 5: by Paulyn (new)

Paulyn What I love most about your books is the time and passion that you have in writing them, and so much thought has been put to it that makes it more appealing. I can't wait to read more of your work, and get inspired and love them as much as you do writing them.

message 6: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Ramirez Love Morgan Matson!!

Atiye’s_lttlebookn00k OMG I loved the unexpected everything! I really like the main character, Andie

message 8: by ✦ Maica ✦ (new)

✦ Maica ✦ *patiently waiting for MM's new book*

message 9: by Endang (new)

Endang i’m feeling excited about it, can’t wait to hand the copy

message 10: by Eka (new)

Eka this makes me feel to finish the unexpected everything soon! keep delaying it for too long time.

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