Mary G. Thompson was raised in Cottage Grove and Eugene, Oregon. She was a practicing attorney for more than 7 years, including almost 5 years in the U.S. Navy, before moving to New York to write full time. She received her BA from Boston University, her JD from the University of Oregon, and her MFA in Writing for Children from The New School, and she’s now studying to become a librarian. For more info, visit her website. To experience more awesomeness, head to Teen Writers Bloc. You can also find Mary on Facebook and Goodreads.
Let the conversation begin!
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
The beginning of the process was surprisingly easy. Right after I finished the book, I attended the Southern California Writers’ Conference in San Diego, where I met my agent. However, after that quick start, it took about two years to actually sell the book to a publisher. I was lucky to ultimately find someone to take on something that’s so admittedly and proudly weird!
How did you choose the genre you write in?
I have always loved to read YA books. I read them when I was a kid, and I never stopped. The first book I ever tried to write was adult, but it wasn’t quite working for me. Then I thought of a YA story, and I immediately knew that YA is where I belong. As for why I picked sci-fi/fantasy/horror, I just love using my imagination. I often find contemporary realistic fiction boring as a reader, because I already know way too much about real life. I love speculating about “what if.”
How do you recharge your creative batteries?
I take a measured approach. I have a certain goal for each day. I don’t always meet it, but I usually manage to do enough so that I feel like I’ve accomplished something. I never write for ten hours straight or write through the night or otherwise binge. I also don’t take long breaks from writing. Slow and steady wins the race!
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
Well, obviously I don’t know anyone who’s turned into a disgusting monster, but there are definitely parts of Wuftoom that are based on real life. Evan’s town is never named in the book, but it’s supposed to be very similar to my hometown of Cottage Grove, Oregon. The house Evan lives in is my best friend’s house. I think Evan’s feelings about middle school and his social status will be relatable for a lot of people.
Planner or a procrastinator?
Ha. All my friends are rolling their eyes right now. I am a planner! That’s not to say that I never procrastinate, because I definitely do, but I like to know when and where things are going to happen, preferably a month in advance. People who just go with the flow drive me up the wall and down again.
How many words have you written in one sitting?
Literally, like one hundred. I have a terrible time sitting still, and I can’t concentrate. Nevertheless, I think I have written 4,000 words in one day, once. I am a slow and steady person all the way!
Are you a person who makes their bed in the morning?
No way! Unless my mom is coming over.
Of all your books, what was your favorite chapter to write?
There are some scenes in my third book, Evil Fairies Love Hair that made me laugh a lot while I was writing them. The book is by far the most funny and fun thing I’ve ever done. Of course, I love writing more dramatic scenes too, but it’s a different kind of love. Then there was a scene in a draft of something I just started that almost made me throw up. I don’t know if I’ll continue with that project, but for someone who likes grossness, that was fun too!
Do you come up with your book titles?
So far, yes. Wuftoom just popped into my head, and I prayed no one would ask me to change it! I think it fits the book perfectly because it’s not only about the Wuftoom, but Evan is one (or isn’t he?). It encompasses the central dilemma of the book.
How did you celebrate your first book being published?
I had a party, and all my friends in New York came, and who could ask for more than that?
Any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Don’t give up. And finish your book. Even if you can’t sell the book you’re working on now, you will learn a lot that will help you sell the next one. I have several books written that haven’t sold yet, and I’ll probably keep writing books that won’t sell. But it’s worth it to finish for what you learn.
Jacket Copy for Wuftoom:
Everyone thinks Evan is sick … Everyone thinks science will find a cure. But Evan knows he is not sick, he is transforming. Evan’s metamorphosis has him confined to his bed, constantly terrified, and completely alone. Alone, except for his visits from the Wuftoom, a wormlike creature that tells him he is becoming one of them.
Clinging to his humanity and desperate to help his overworked single mother, Evan makes a bargain with the Vitflys, the sworn enemies of the Wuftoom. But when the bargain becomes blackmail and the Vitflys prepare for war, whom can Evan trust? Is saving his humanity worth destroying an entire species, and the only family he has left?