We're excited to welcome the author of A Trick of the Light, Lois Metzger, to Reading Lark today. She's here to answer a few questions, promote the release of the paperback edition of her novel, and give our readers a chance to win a copy.
Andrea @ Reading Lark: We often see eating disorders portrayed as a female issue. Why did you decide to have your male character struggle with an eating disorder?
Lois: The idea of a boy struggling with an eating disorder came before writing the book. Ten years ago I saw an article in the New York Daily News, called “Not for Girls Only.” It was about a boy who, when he was 13, nearly died of anorexia. At that time, I’d had no idea boys could develop eating disorders. As it turned out, there were many, many things I didn’t know about eating disorders!
Andrea @ Reading Lark: What sort of research did you do to prepare to write “A Trick of the Light”?
Lois: I wrote to the reporter of the Daily News article, and she gave me contact information for the boy (Justin) and his family. They were extremely helpful and spoke to me at length. His mom gave me Justin’s doctor’s number, and I spoke with him as well. I live in New York City, and the doctor found some people I could interview in my area. At the same time I read as much as I could about eating disorders and how they affect both men and women. I also visited a hospital to see the eating-disorder wing. For privacy reasons I didn’t interview patients there, but I saw the physical layout and got a sense of the day-to-day routines.
Andrea @ Reading Lark: Realistic, gritty fiction can sometimes be hard for me to read. My soul hurts to watch the characters grapple with complex issues. Did you feel this way when you were writing the novel?
Lois: It’s strange, because when I was writing “A Trick of the Light,” I was only trying to get it “right.” There were times, while researching, that I came across something very troubling, but any emotional upheaval took a back seat to storytelling. When I finished the novel—that was a different story, so to speak. Now, when I think about what my main character, Mike, goes through, I can get very upset. Things I came across years ago can haunt me.
Andrea @ Reading Lark: How did you decide on the narrator for this story?
Lois: When I began writing, Mike told his story in first-person. He always had a voice in his head, a sinister voice that promised “health” and “fitness” and a world in which Mike could be happy. Going through rewrite after rewrite, the voice in Mike’s head became more and more of a presence. Eventually it took over the entire book and started telling the events from its own warped point of view. It’s an unreliable narrator; it’s clear to the reader that the narrator is lying, twisting information, skewing reality, and steering Mike to places he should not be going.
Andrea @ Reading Lark: It's a tradition to ask - What's your favorite bird?
Lois: Grey parrots are pretty wonderful. So cute, so smart, so talkative, and they can live 80 years!
We have one SIGNED paperback of A Trick of the Light to offer our readers. This giveaway is open to US residents who are 13+ years of age. Those under 18 years of age must have parents permission to enter. The book will be shipped by the author.
The giveaway runs from September 23-30. Winner will be notified via email on October 1.