Interview with Lizzy Mason, Author of The Art of Losing

Lizzy Mason grew up in northern Virginia before moving to New York City for college and, later, a career in publishing. When not reading or writing, Lizzy loves to travel; she has visited forty states and eleven countries. She has a bad habit of reading while walking and of taking too many pictures of her cat, Moxie, sometimes in hats. She lives with her husband in an apartment full of books in Queens, NY. The Art of Losing is her first novel.

Hello, Lizzy. Welcome to YA SH3LF!

Hi! Thank you so much for having me!

What inspired you to write The Art of Losing?

Eight years ago, my boyfriend (at the time) called me, incredibly drunk, and said he was going to stay with a friend instead of coming home that night. He drank a lot—it had become a problem between us—so I was relieved I wouldn’t have to deal with him. But the next day, he told me he had cheated on me.

I wrote the scene where Harley walks in on Mike with Audrey that night.

What urged you to tell this particular story, and why tell it now?

Like Rafael, I was in high school when my parents put me in rehab. Even though it was hard—especially because I had to cut ties with all of my friends—I stayed sober for my last two years of high school and went to an AA meeting nearly every day. But it didn’t last. In my early twenties, my drug use caught up to me again.

Writing saved me that time. After I quit, I had to find something new to focus on, so I started reading and writing all of the time. I wrote my first novel in six weeks in a feverish blur.

The Art of Losing wasn’t my first attempt. It was my fourth. And it started as a completely different book. But one day, I was traveling for work when my mom called. A friend of mine had died after he drank and took pills. He went to sleep and never woke up. He was 24.

I felt like I owed it to him—and to myself—to tell this story. So I started over.

The Art of Losing has been consistently slated as one of the most anticipated young adult debuts of 2019 and has received a fantastic response. What has it meant to you to have this kind of reaction?

Oh, wow, thank you for saying that! I honestly don’t know how to feel. I cry a lot. And I’m still surprised that anyone wants to read it at all. It’s such an important book to me, and it’s incredibly personal, so it feels a little bit like people are reading my diary. But I am so grateful for the chance to tell this story. I think other people will see themselves and their friends and family in it and I hope that they’re able to find solace or comfort, or maybe inspiration.

How do your characters come to you—fully formed or do they reveal themselves in pieces? Do you have little stories about them that don’t make it into the books?

I usually have a pretty good sense of my main character when I start writing, but they will always do something to surprise me or react unexpectedly to something. They feel like real people to me, which to non-writers just sounds really weird, but it’s true.

I have a lot of material that got cut. There are flashbacks in between each present day chapter, and many didn’t make it into the book. But it was such a good way to really get to know Harley, by writing her past.

What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I hope they’ll have empathy for people with addiction, but also that they’ll stand up for themselves if they’re being taken advantage of. And I hope that they’ll be nicer to their siblings.

What authors inspired you to start writing?

My favorite book when I was a young teen was Life Without Friends by Ellen Emerson White. I decided I wanted to write a novel after reading The Solace of Leaving Early by Haven Kimmel. But I didn’t actually start writing my first novel, which was fantasy, until I read Holly Black’s Tithe series. I had never read anything like it and I was mesmerized.

If you could have anyone in the world read your book, who would it be?

That’s a tough question! Really, the person I wanted to read it most has read it almost as many times as I have: my sister. She’s my best friend and I love her so much that it hurt to write the scenes where Harley is mean to Audrey. But sisters can be as cruel as they are loving, so their relationship is realistic.

Read more about The Art of Losing :

The Art of Losing – Lizzy Mason

INTERVIEW : YA SH3LF

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