Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour was inspired by your love for road trips, and you even did that road trip as research collecting receipts and experiences for the book. How was the experience of traveling the country for and with your characters?
It was wonderful! I loved my research road trip across the country. It really changed the revision of the book, as well – once I visited the places that I’d been writing about, the whole story started to feel that much richer and more real. I love a good roadtrip, and have been meaning to do another cross country trip again soon!
After Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour, you began writing another novel that never got published. What happened to it and what was it about?
That book – it never had a title – was a real learning experience. I jumped into it a little too soon after finishing Amy & Roger. I hadn’t had enough time to think about the characters and really sit with them. It was a book that took place over a weekend, about a girl who worked at her family’s movie theatre in a small town in Pennsylvania. There were some things I liked about it, but it just wasn’t coming together. And by then, I’d had the idea for Second Chance Summer, and was feeling much more attached to that idea. But I did borrow the last line of that book for the last line of Since You’ve Been Gone. So not all was lost!
What was the most difficult part to write in Second Chance Summer?
One of the hardest parts of that book was actually the fact that everyone was in the same small town for the whole book. I’d gotten used to moving around nearly every chapter with Amy & Roger – bringing in new characters constantly. With Second Chance Summer, I had to relearn how to write a book without constantly changing scenery and characters.
All your books have a summer feeling to them, even through heartbreak and sadness the reader can feel the happiness and warmth lying underneath and fighting to come out. What are the ingredients for a Morgan Matson summer novel?
I love writing books set in the summer! It’s just such a special time – where it feels like anything is possible, where the usual boundaries and groups that define the school year fall by the wayside. I feel like the ingredients of a Morgan Matson summer novel are: A girl, a cute boy, some ice cream, iced coffee, maybe a fluffy dog. Some great friends and an adventure – like a scavenger hunt or a list – is definitely part of it. And always, the chance to change, to go out of your comfort zone and learn more about yourself – and become a different version of yourself by the time September rolls around.
Amy, Roger, Taylor, Henry, Emily, Frank, Sloane, Andie, Clark… All your characters could be our next-door neighbours or high school friends, they are real, human, flawed and lovable. How do you create these amazing characters?
I really spend a lot of time thinking about my characters before I ever start writing. I need them to feel like real people – with backstories and histories that might never show up on the page. And only when I feel like I know them – like they are real people – do I start writing. But it’s the reason I love featuring little cameos from past characters in my books – it’s fun to check in on these people I spent so much time with!
You meet regularly with other writing buddies to write together or go to writing retreats. How do your books profit from this kind of events?
It’s hugely helpful! Writing can be so solitary that there’s nothing better than sitting with a group of good friends who also write and getting to spend time with them, even while working. And it’s also wonderful, when you’re stuck on a scene or a line, to be able to ask your fellow writers for help or advice.
We know you love writing contemporary fiction, but given the right idea and the right moment, what genre would you like to try out?
I’d love to try out fantasy – or maybe time travel! There is a little bit of fantasy in The Unexpected Everything, and that was so fun to try out.
In between Since You’ve Been Gone and The Unexpected Everything, you wrote also a young-adult chick-lit trilogy under your pen name, Katie Finn. In Spain, we only know Morgan Matson, so we are curious about Katie Finn. Please introduce us to your not-so-secret identity and her books. How do you combine writing under both names at the same time?
My secret identity is revealed! The Katie Finn books are more plot-driven than the Morgan Matson books, which are more character-centered. The Morgan books are also more realistic, whereas the Katie books are a little more heightened, like a great evening soap opera – but also funny! The Broken Hearts and Revenge trilogy takes place by the beach in the Hamptons, where Gemma juggles mistaken identities, three cute boys, a nemesis, and her own broken heart.
You studied Theater, but also hold a Master’s Degree in Screenwriting. Should some film studio be interested in one of your books, which one would you like to see on the big screen first? And would you like to write the screenplay yourself
That’s a great question! I feel like Amy & Roger would be the most cinematic – all those different locations across the United States – but Since You’ve Been Gone might be the most fun. And I’d love to write the script myself – I think it could be a really fun chance to tell the story in a whole new way.
If you could go on vacation with one of your characters, which one would you choose and where would you go?
Oh, that’s hard! I think I’d like to go on a roadtrip with Amy & Roger. I feel like Roger would provide a great soundtrack!
Your newest book coming out next year, Save The Date, originated from a character from The Unexpected Everything. Can you tell us about what the book is about and how did you come up with the idea?
There actually aren’t any characters in common – just the town that both books take place in. And there might be a few fun cameos of people from previous books!
The book is about a girl named Charlie – she’s in the spring of her senior year, and trying to decide where she’s going to college. The whole book takes place over a weekend. She’s the youngest of five siblings, and the whole family is coming back to the house for her older sister’s wedding. It’s a weekend full of revelations, family secrets, cute boys, unexpected dogs, feuding relatives, and cake disasters. It’s a weekend that changes everything.