Amazon Asks: Kimberly McCreight on family, yogurt, and Breaking Bad

Reconstructing Amelia

Reconstructing Amelia is a media-fest of narrative, emails, texts and other bits a tormented mother uses to deconstruct her teenage daughter's life and figure out whether she did or didn't commit suicide. Climbing the charts, it's the first novel by lawyer-turned-author Kimberly McCreight, who knows a bit about motherhood angst and, well... villainy.

What's the elevator pitch for your book?

A page-turning mystery about parenting in the age of cyber-bullying, Reconstructing Amelia follows a mother as she tries to piece together the last troubled days of her daughter's life.

What's on your nightstand/bedside table/Kindle?

My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor, Going Clear by Lawrence Wright, and Flannery O'Connor's The Complete Stories.

Top 3-5 favorite books of all time?

The Hours by Michael Cunningham; While I Was Gone by Sue Miller; To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, Plainsong by Kent Haruf; The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

Important book you never read?

The Odyssey. I want to say that I'll read it soon, but now that I have children, I think that might be a lie. Perhaps, once they go to college.

Favorite book(s) as a child?

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. The story felt so huge and important even though I don't think I fully understood why. Unfortunately, my children don't let me read it to them because I always start bawling on page two.

What's your most memorable author moment?

I quit being a lawyer more than a decade ago to chase a dream. The road was much longer and darker than I ever expected, but I'm lucky to have so many amazing friends who helped see me through. I had dinner with one right after my book sold. When I shared the news, she shouted, jumped out of her chair, and burst into tears, pretty much all at the same time. She wasn't the only friend to cry when I told her either. The outpouring of love and support from so many people in my life has been nothing short of astounding. I feel so insanely fortunate

Getting the call from my editor telling me that I'd made the New York Times Bestseller List was another moment I'll never forget. Assuming it actually happened. I'm still half-convinced I hallucinated it.

What talent or superpower would you like to have (not including flight or invisibility)?

I think it may be more of a super-villain power, but mind-control. That's what I'd want. I promise I'd only use it for good, of course. To be honest, I can't imagine why everyone wouldn't want that. The power to make everyone think and, therefore, do whatever you want? Who wouldn't pick that? As it turns out, my family, that's who. Not only did they all give much more hero-ish answers, but now I think they're all sleeping with one eye open. Except for my older daughter. As she sees it, I already have that power. After all, I'm always making her do whatever I want anyway.

What are you obsessed with now?

Greek frozen yogurt. After claiming for years that it was disgusting, I'm now utterly addicted.

What are you stressed about now?

The end of Breaking Bad. I know they'll pull it off in the same flawless, breathtaking form with which they've executed the rest of the series, so I'm not worried about them. I'm worried about me. What am I going to do without that show? I guess I'll still have the yogurt.

What are you psyched about now?

Summer. I can't wait for late afternoons on the beach when the setting sun turns the whole world gold and there's salt on your skin and you've had way too many ice cream cones for no good reason. I'm looking forward to our family vacation too. My daughters are finally old enough to really travel, and we're taking them to France and England. I can't wait to see all of it again for the first time through their eyes.

What's your most prized/treasured possession?

My husband and my children. And, don't worry, I know they're not possessions. I mean not really. But they're what matters most to me.

Author crush -- who's your current author crush?

Can I have two? John Green and Flannery O'Connor. I so wish the three of us could go out to dinner.

What's next for you?

I'm a few hundred pages into my next novel. It's another dark mystery with a deep emotional core. I'm kind of obsessed with it too. That and, you know, the yogurt.

What's the last dream you remember?

I had a dream that my kids' hamster, Chocolate Chip, escaped from her cage. In the dream, she was about six times as large as she is in real life, which is exceptionally bad news because she's essentially an attack hamster. In the dream—I mean nightmare—we all had to escape from her by crawling out a window and down the fire escape. Which reminds me, I really do need to find a hamster tamer.  

Favorite line?

"We changed again, and yet again, and it was now too late and too far to go back, and I went on. And the mists had all solemnly risen now, and the world lay spread before me." Charles Dickens, Great Expectations.

What's your favorite vice?

Candy. I consume all kinds, often in huge quantities. In fact, I consider myself something of a connoisseur. However, if someone happens to stumble on my enormous secret stash, I always lie and tell them it belongs to my children. Of course, that has the unintended side effect of making me look like a terrible parent. But you can't have everything, can you?

What do you collect?

I love the idea of collecting and I'm completely fascinated by people who do. But I'm more of a purger myself. In fact, if there's a disorder that's the opposite of hoarding, I think I might have that.

Best piece of fan mail you ever got?

I heard from someone who'd read Reconstructing Amelia after a loss in his own family. He wanted me to know how the story had helped him process his own grief. It was the warmest, most lovely note, and, reading it, I so felt the love for this person who was no longer here. I was in tears before I'd even stepped away from my mailbox.

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