January 13, 2013

Author Q&A: Newly in love

Joseph Monninger, best known for his young-adult novels, ventures into the romance genre with his new book, 'Margaret from Maine.'

By Bob Keyes bkeyes@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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Joseph Monninger

Q: This question may reveal my ignorance, but "Margaret from Maine" may be the first romance novel I've ever heard of or read that begins in Afghanistan. Take me through your thought process in terms of how you created these characters and why you made a war injury a central turning point.

A: I'm fond of quoting Hitchcock, who says two people having tea at a table is a story, but put a bomb under it and it's an interesting story. Margaret, who is a good, upstanding human being, has the unthinkable happen to her. Her husband comes back in a vegetative state, and she develops feelings for someone else. There is an ethical element at play, and it raises a bunch of questions for me that were provocative and interesting, and it applied pressure to a character, essentially. 

Q: What do you like about Margaret?

A: One of the things that seems to come through in all my work, thematically, I am very interested in rural poor. She is not poor, but she is not wealthy. A lot of my young-adult work focuses on kids who do not have it easy at home. I live in a small town in New Hampshire, and I see a lot of good, honest, trustworthy people who are struggling to get by. She has a wonderful sense of dignity. She is a good person in all ways, yet she is in an impossible situation. I am also interested in characters who have to confront a change in their lives, one that just came on them. I find her interesting. She is not doing anything wrong, but she is doing something in the eyes of society that may be wrong.

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or:


Twitter: pphbkeyes


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