Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Interview with Peyton Marshall, author of Goodhouse - September 30, 2014

Please welcome Peyton Marshall to The Qwillery as part of the 2014 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Goodhouse is published today by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Please join The Qwillery in wishing Peyton a Happy Publication Day!

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Peyton:  For me, writing came out of reading. I loved to read as a child and often I felt a bigger connection with the stories than I did with reality.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Peyton:  I’d love to be a plotter. But I can’t stick to an outline. I get caught up in a scene and then write something that destroys all of my best-laid plans. I long for predictability and surety in writing but perhaps that’s only because I experience it so rarely.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Peyton:  Finding the time. Or allowing myself to have the time to make mistakes—to explore.

TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Peyton:  I’m an omnivore. My dad got me hooked on historical military fiction, on adventure stories, on history books. But I like to read classic novels—and pulpy ones, as well. Recently, I read The Goldfinch, and I’m not sure which category that fits into.

TQ:  Describe Goodhouse in 140 characters or less.

PeytonGoodhouse is a book about how society treats its most vulnerable constituents. It's a book about how hope can endure—and survive—trauma.

TQ:  Tell us something about Goodhouse that is not in the book description.

Peyton:  Despite the fact that Goodhouse is set in a speculative future and despite the fact that the novel’s protagonist, James Goodhouse, is subject to the pressures of a very different world—the book is really about James struggle to reach outside the confines of his childhood, to define his own truth. It’s about the difficulties of doing this—within the confines of a system.

TQ:  In Goodhouse, who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Peyton:  Bethany was the easiest to write. I wanted to her to stand in contrast to James’ world, to be somebody for whom he would have no context.

Often, I just got out of the way and let her talk—let her be her devious, determined, and unpredictable self.

In some ways, Bethany’s father was the hardest character to write. I couldn’t decide how to build him. I kept changing my mind about his motivations. It was almost as if the character was withholding information from me, the writer; it wasn’t until the end when the plot really came together that I fully understood him, understood where things had been going all along.

TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Goodhouse.

Peyton:  The boys are preparing to go out on their first day in the community:

        “Just keep your mouth shut,” Owen said. “And look really grateful, no matter what they say. And don’t touch anything,” he said. “They hate that and it’s hard to do when they have candy dishes and little glass elephants and once this kid had a plastic box full of ants that he said he was farming.”
        I stared at him. “Farming?” I asked. “For food?”
        “Who knows,” he shrugged. “It’s always a freak show and they write detailed reports about you afterwards and staff pays a lot of attention to them.”

TQ:  What's next?

Peyton:  A trip to Morocco.

I’m moving overseas for six months with the family. Should be interesting. I’ve already started another book and I look forward to sitting in a café in Marrakech—drinking that strong coffee.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Peyton:  Thank you!

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, September 30, 2014
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

A bighearted dystopian novel about the corrosive effects of fear and the redemptive power of love.

With soaring literary prose and the tense pacing of a thriller, the first-time novelist Peyton Marshall imagines a grim and startling future. At the end of the twenty-first century—in a transformed America—the sons of convicted felons are tested for a set of genetic markers. Boys who test positive become compulsory wards of the state—removed from their homes and raised on "Goodhouse" campuses, where they learn to reform their darkest thoughts and impulses. Goodhouse is a savage place—part prison, part boarding school—and now a radical religious group, the Holy Redeemer’s Church of Purity, is intent on destroying each campus and purifying every child with fire.

We see all this through the eyes of James, a transfer student who watched as the radicals set fire to his old Goodhouse and killed nearly everyone he’d ever known. In addition to adjusting to a new campus with new rules, James now has to contend with Bethany, a brilliant, medically fragile girl who wants to save him, and with her father, the school’s sinister director of medical studies. Soon, however, James realizes that the biggest threat might already be there, inside the fortified walls of Goodhouse itself.

Partly based on the true story of the nineteenth-century Preston School of Industry, Goodhouse explores questions of identity and free will—and what it means to test the limits of human endurance.

About Peyton

Photo by Mike Palmeri
Born in 1972 in Pennsylvania, Peyton grew up near Washington DC -- in a wooded, leafy town that is now part of the sprawling DC metroplex. She attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Before enrolling in the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Peyton spent many years remodeling Craftsman-style homes.

​Her work is rooted in ideas about love and the potential brutalities of human life -- in the ways people misunderstand each other. Goodhouse is her first novel.

Website ~ Twitter @PeytonMMarshall


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