The Memory Thief
A novel by
A Ballantine Books Trade Paperback Original
On-Sale August 21, 2012
In Emily Colin’s exquisite debut novel THE MEMORY THIEF (Ballantine Trade Paperback Original; On-Sale August 21, 2012) one man’s vow to his wife sparks a remarkable journey that tests the pull of memory and reaffirms the bonds of love.
Deftly weaving together two strands of plot, THE MEMORY THIEF spins an unforgettable tale of love lost and found. Though she has lived with her husband Aidan’s adventure-seeking tendencies for the entirety of their relationship, Maddie has particularly strong reservations when Aidan tells her of his plans to summit Alaska’s Mount McKinley. When she eventually gives in to him, Aidan promises her, “I will come back to you.” Yet, late one night, she receives shocking news: Aidan has died in an avalanche. Confronted with grief, newfound single parenthood, and the realization that J.C., Aidan’s climbing partner and best friend, has been in love with her for years, Maddie must swim through her swirling emotions in a quest for understanding.
Across the country, Nicholas Sullivan awakes from a motorcycle accident. Unable to remember any part of his life to this point, he finds that his dreams are haunted by images of a beautiful woman and a young boy. Feeling as though these mysterious people may hold the answers to his own problems, Nicholas is driven to find them. Nicholas’s journey leads him to great discoveries—which not only change his life, but Maddie’s, too.
Poignant, yet ultimately triumphant, THE MEMORY THIEF is a unique and compelling love story that marks Emily Colin as a young author to watch.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
EMILY COLIN is the Associate Director of the DREAMS Center For Arts Education, a nationally award-winning nonprofit dedicated to building creative, committed citizens through high-quality arts programming. Prior to DREAMS, she served as Editor-in-Chief of Coastal Carolina Press, and co-founder of Carolina Women’s Partnership. She also works closely with the North Carolina Arts Council. In Though Colin is not a mountain climber—she’s actually afraid of heights—she spent innumerable hours doing research for THE MEMORY THIEF: shadowing Outward Bound instructors as they scaled cliffs in Colorado’s Rifle Canyon, conducting reconnaissance missions in an indoor rock-climbing gym closer to home, and speaking with alpinists who took on Alaska’s Mt. McKinley—and lost. For more information, please visit the author’s website at www.emilycolin.com.
THE MEMORY THIEF
By Emily Colin
A Ballantine Books Trade Paperback Original
Publication date: August 21, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-345-53039-4 / Price: $15.00/ Pages: 432
Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself!
I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, finished high school in New Zealand, and moved to North Carolina to attend college at Duke University. After I graduated, I realized that I’d fallen in love with the beauty of the Tarheel State—that, and I was holding a whole bunch of jobs—working as a freelance manuscript reader for DoubleTake Magazine, interning at Brightleaf: A Southern Review, doing triple duty as a courier, research assistant and admin for Duke Cancer Control, and helping a professor start her own small publishing company. With all of that going on, it seemed rather foolish to pull up stakes and move!
So I stayed in North Carolina, and a couple of years later, I moved to Wilmington (on the coast) to help found another small press, where I served as editor for about five years. Today, in addition to my own creative writing, I’m the Associate Director of DREAMS of Wilmington, a nonprofit program dedicated to providing youth in need with free-of-charge arts programming. Oh, and I have a seven-year-old son, a 1910 Craftsman bungalow, and a master’s degree in Youth Development.
Tell us about your book? How did it get started?
It got started one day when I read a memoir written by a woman who’d lost her husband in a mountain climbing accident. That started me thinking—what must it be like, to climb mountains for a living? What sort of person is called to do such a thing—and what must it be like to love someone like that, who takes their life in their hands every single time they go to work … not in the service of a higher calling, as in the case of a soldier or firefighter, but simply because they feel driven to do so? That was the spark of the idea that grew into The Memory Thief. Of course, in the end it got all mixed up with a ghost story, a mystery, and the adventures of an amnesiac history teacher … but all of that came later.
How do you create your characters?
My characters just come to me—the broad strokes, at least. I fill in the details later, but the big picture—their personalities, their desires, their fears—all of that arrives in my mind as a fait accompli. The tricky piece is expressing this on paper, so that readers can understand my imaginary friends as well as I do!
What inspires and what got you started in writing?
I’ve been writing as long as I can remember—from my first short story, Bloddy Monster, penned in a marble composition notebook at the tender age of seven, to the dreadful novel I wrote in college about a gay male couple living in New York City. I still cringe, thinking about that particular piece of work.
As for what got me started—I suppose my mother is to blame. She and my father both love to read, and they surrounded me with books from the jump. My mother loves to tell the story of the time that, as a miserable, snuffly toddler, I made her read Maurice Sendak’s In the Night Kitchen to me no fewer than thirty-two times. I personally cannot believe that she obliged. A kind woman, my mother.
By the time I was in middle school—this was before the days of ubiquitous computers—I was penning 1,000-page, handwritten fictional monstrosities that took over my bedroom. It was impossible to walk across the carpet without trampling one page or another, much to my chagrin. My poor mother turned a ghastly shade of puce every time she opened my bedroom door. But hey, that’s what you get when you name your little girl after Emily Dickinson.
Where do you write? Is there something you need in order to write (music, drinks?)
Anywhere I can. Seriously, between having a full-time job and a seven-year-old, I don’t get to be a diva about my writing time. I do have a home office, but generally speaking, when in writing mode I can be found at a local coffee shop, at a two-top by the window, earphones in and trusty MacBook open, typing away. If caffeine’s not to be found, I’ve been known to jot down my ideas on a bar napkin, in my son’s tae kwon do class, and on my hand at the grocery store, should the need arise.
The one thing I absolutely must have in order to write is music. The Memory Thief had its own iTunes playlist, and so does Book 2. When I get sick of listening to the same songs over and over, I create a Pandora channel with the same ambiance. It helps transport me from the real world into the one where my characters live.
How do you get your ideas for writing?
Usually my ideas are sparked by a single image—in a book, in life, on screen. Sometimes they come from a conversation I’ve overheard or a line of poetry I’ve read. Occasionally they have their genesis in dreams.
What do you like to read?
So many things! I read a lot of contemporary fiction, but I also love books that thread the paranormal into their storyline. When it comes to nonfiction, I read a lot of books focusing on mental illness, poverty, and dysfunctional childhoods—partially because of what I do for a living and partially because that’s what interests me. I’ll read a good YA novel in a heartbeat. Favorite novelists include Diana Gabaldon, Joshilyn Jackson, Jacqueline Mitchard, Jodi Picoult, and Kim Harrison.
What would your advice to be for authors or aspiring in regard to writing?
Don’t give up! Writing is hard work, and you’ve got to show up every day—or as often as you can—just like you would for a nine-to-five. Don’t labor under the delusion that it’s all brilliant ideas and flowing prose. Do your research, build a community, slay your darlings. Surround yourself with a small group of individuals—or even just one!—who will be honest with you about your work. Revise, revise, revise, and then revise some more. Try not to be stubborn—listen to the feedback of the folks you trust. Make sure your work is ready before you send it out into the world. And write what you love, what makes you happy. The rest will come.