Today I am coming at you with a VERY special post… and probably one of my favorite posts I’ll ever write! I’ve been working with Flatiron Books for the last year and was offered an ARC of Margarita Montimore’s new book, Acts of Violet. I quite literally jumped at the opportunity to get my hands on this release early. For those of you who don’t know, I adored her last book, Oona Out Of Order, and named it one of my favorite books of 2020. It’s a captivating tale of Oona Lockhart who begins to live her life, one year at a time, out of order. On each birthday, she randomly jumps to a new age, going from 36 to 25 to 68 and so on. The only memories she has are those that she lived through and it left to fill in the gaps as so goes. It’s charming, filled with heart and so much personality – it’s impossible to not fall in love with the characters! Montimore is back with a new release, Acts of Violet, about a famous magician who performs the greatest trick of all time, making herself disappear.
I had the chance to chat with the lovely Margarita Montimore about her life, her books and everything in between! Without further ado, onto the interview!
Mr Geek: Margarita, thank you SO much for sitting down to chat with me – I’m excited to feature you on my blog! I can’t wait to talk to you about Oona and Acts of Violet but first, let’s start off with these crazy last 2 years. The pandemic was a life-changing event for all of us. What did you do to help keep yourself occupied and sane during the lockdown?
Montimore: I took the dog on lots of hikes, hung out with my husband, watched a ton of TV and listened to many podcasts, crocheted, played video games, and kept in touch with friends via phone and occasional video chats. Reading was a challenge during that time, but I still made an effort to get lost in books as much as possible. But what helped keep me busy and sane most of all was researching and writing a new novel, one about a famous magician…
Mr Geek: I also had a bit of a hard time reading during the pandemic, it really was an ebb and flow. There were times I barely read and others that I couldn’t stop! I’m excited to talk more about your new novel, Acts of Violet, and this famous magician but let’s chit-chat a little longer, shall we? You mentioned watching a lot of TV during the pandemic, any TV show or movie recommendations?
Montimore: Movie-wise, I recently saw Everything Everywhere All At Once and was utterly blown away—it’s the best movie I’ve seen in at least a decade. I don’t think I’ve been affected this deeply by a film since I first saw Amelie. As for TV, Severance is hands down the best show I’ve seen all year. I’m also a big fan of Euphoria and Succession, and rewatching The OA, one of my all-time faves, always inspires me. And I have to have occasional Dateline binges from time to time – for me, that’s the true crime gold standard, and Keith Morrison’s fabulous narration is unlike anything else.
Mr Geek: A friend of mine wanted to see Everything Everywhere All At Once and we couldn’t find it in a local theater. I also actually just started Euphoria, I’m only a couple episodes in so far but Zendaya is quite the actress!
Montimore: Isn’t she incredible? My husband and I have a running bet of who we think will win an Oscar first, her or Julia Garner – they’re both phenomenal actresses, but I think Zendaya has the edge, only because she’s been doing more film work.
Mr Geek: Ironically enough, a friend of mine just recommended I started Severance this past weekend – that has officially been added to my to-watch list as well! Speaking of the big and small screen, I love when books are adapted into either TV shows or movies. Would you ever want to see that for Oona Out Of Order or Acts Of Violet?
Montimore: I would love to see it adapted for television, and fortunately Amazon Studios is in the midst of doing just that. It’s been fascinating getting a peek into the development process and to interact with talented people who have brought high quality projects to the screen.
Mr Geek: This is INCREDIBLE news! I will absolutely be keeping my eyes peeled for more release details and will most likely be bingeing the entire season the weekend it comes out! Staying on the theme of your books, I’ll never forget the day I walked into Barnes & Noble and saw it sitting on the shelf – the cover immediately caught my attention and as soon as I read the synopsis, I was sold. I absolutely adored that book and it was one of my favorite reads of 2020!
Montimore: Thank you, that means a lot to me.
Mr Geek: I wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t true! Oona is filled with so many anecdotes, life lessons and meaningful quotes. One of my personal favorites was “All good things end, always. The trick is to enjoy them while they last.” Talk to me a little bit about what this quote means to you.
Montimore: The biggest lesson I learned while writing Oona was the importance of living in the moment. I’m a very nostalgic person, so it’s easy for me to slip into memories of the past, or to become preoccupied in planning for the future, but I’ve been making a more concerted effort to be present and appreciate each day for what it is. It’s such a simple thing, but it makes a significant positive impact on my sense of well-being.
Mr Geek: Hearing your explanation of that quote makes me love it even more – probably because I also tend to be a bit on the nostalgic side! It’s so easy to get wrapped up in past, or even the future, that you lose sight of what’s happening right in front of you. The present is where the magic happens and magic is the perfect segue for us to start discussing Acts Of Violet! I just finished reading Acts Of Violet and I absolutely loved it! Acts of Violet is your upcoming release about the Volkov sisters, Sasha and Violet. Violet is a famous magician who disappears during one of her stage performances and is never seen from again while Sasha is left behind to pick up the pieces. The characters were fun, well developed and relatable. Would you say that you’re more like Sasha or Violet?
Montimore: I think there’s a part of myself in every character I write, but I also strive to make sure my characters don’t resemble me too closely, so that they can develop in interesting ways. The quality in Violet I relate to most is her desire to inspire and uplift people through her creative work. I also share Violet’s embrace of synchronicities and penchant for magical thinking. When I was growing up, I did dream about having a big glamorous life like Violet’s, but now such an existence strikes me as exhausting and lonely. Which makes me lean more toward Sasha in some ways. I can relate to her devotion to her husband and child—though in my case, it’s husband and dog—and her contentment at living a low-key suburban life.
Mr Geek: I love that you incorporate bits and pieces of yourself into your characters but also give them room to be their own unique individuals! Plus, this give your readers a chance to also see themselves reflected back in the characters too – what an awesome approach! I’ve always loved reading from multiple perspectives and Acts Of Violet is told using several different writing formats: Podcast Interviews, Newspaper / Magazine Articles, Emails and Hand-Written Letters in addition to your classic chapter format. This was such an interesting mechanic and each format had a unique voice. What made you want to tell Violet’s story this way?
Montimore: Violet was always going to be this intriguing, unknowable persona, where the only way you could get a sense of who she was would be by collecting all these different accounts from people who knew her, whether in a personal or professional capacity. Plus, after listening to tons of podcasts, I thought that specific format would lend itself well to unfolding parts of the mystery, of who she was and what may have happened to her. Personally, I love stories that use a variety of narrative techniques, which offer a way to show multiple perspectives while creating an immersive reading experience. I hoped writing Acts of Violet would offer readers the same sort of experience. At the same time, I wanted to include narrative chapters from Sasha’s point of view to give the story more cohesion and reflect her more grounded character.
Mr Geek: To be honest, I had a tough time picking out which style I liked the best! I loved Sasha’s chapters, hearing what was happening in present day and how everything was unfolding but I also really liked the Podcast chapters which helped build out Violet’s backstory! Your writing flowed so effortlessly and I want to talk a little more about the multiple writing formats for another minute. Each style was used to convey a very specific part of the story – how did you go about plotting out when to use each writing style? Did you have to go back and rearrange those different parts to help the story flow?
Montimore: My plotting happens more instinctually, so while Sasha’s chapters flowed, for the most part, chronologically, I wrote some of the other media elements as they came to me. There was definitely some rearranging of articles and podcast episodes. I even had a giant “crazy wall” in my office to inspire me and help me keep track of the different sections and timelines as I went along. Here’s a peek at part of it!
Mr Geek: This vision board is INCREDIBLE! Having read the book, I can see several elements that you had mapped out and included in Acts Of Violets. It’s really awesome to see things all come together the way they did! The picture towards the bottom, Vanish, actually inspired my next question. Oona Out Of Order and Acts Of Violet are very different and unique stories that both include a little sci-fi magic! How would you say these books are similar and how would you say they are different?
Montimore: Great question! I do like to play around with magical/surreal elements in my stories. I would say with Oona Out of Order, you know pretty much from the start that the story contains time travel, whereas with Acts of Violet, there’s more ambiguity about the strange forces at play. Both books are similar in that they feature protagonists dealing with loss and complicated family dynamics. They’re also similar in that they ask the reader to accept a world that is a bit off-kilter without reason—the cause for Oona’s time travel “sickness” is intentionally undisclosed and some of the magic in Acts of Violet remains shrouded in mystery, also intentionally. While I like to provide a satisfying overall story experience, I think it’s important to leave some question marks hanging for the readers to puzzle out. I like to think that helps keep the story and characters alive in their minds, wondering about certain aspects instead of knowing everything conclusively.
Mr Geek: I think that’s what I love the most about your stories – you are able to seamlessly incorporate these magical moments into mundane, everyday life! It really makes me look for the spark in my day to day! Margarita, thank you SO much for taking the time to hang out and chat with me! Any parting words for my readers?
Montimore: Thank you for having me! I wrote Acts of Violet during lockdown, and it helped bring a little more magic into my life. I hope it has the same effect on readers.
This was such an incredible experience for me and I hope you also enjoyed reading along! Margarita is such an awesome person and I’d like to thank her again for taking the time to do this interview. Her new book, Acts of Violet, is available for preorder and will be released on July 5, 2022 everywhere books are sold (like here). I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it definitely added a little magic to my life!
Until We Meet Again,