Rory Power grew up in New England, where she lives and works as a crime fiction editor and story consultant for TV adaptation. She received a Masters in Prose Fiction from the University of East Anglia, and thinks fondly of her time there, partially because she learned a lot but mostly because there were a ton of bunnies on campus.
Wilder Girls is her first novel, and will publish with Delacorte Press on July 9, 2019.
What inspired you to write Wilder Girls?
I love setting more than almost anything else in a book, and landscape is really the thing that always inspires me the most. For WILDER GIRLS, the primary inspiration came from a visit I made in 2015 to Harkers Island in North Carolina. I immediately knew I wanted to write about it somehow. The island in WILDER GIRLS ended up being set much further north, and it looks a bit different, but it’s rooted in that initial inspiration, and I gave one of my main characters the last name Harker as a tribute.
Can you describe Wilder Girls in 3 words?
Angry. Determined. Selfish.
What are some things you hope readers will see in this story?
I really hope that readers will see themselves in the three main characters. Byatt, Hetty, and Reese are complicated, and messy, and they each have an ugliness to them that we don’t always allow in girls. That’s something I wanted to represent on the page, and it’s something that I hope that readers find catharsis and understanding in.
Which characters do you relate to most in Wilder Girls, and why?
I think Reese is probably the girl I relate to the most. Of course, all three main characters have pieces of me in them – Hetty and I are both recklessly loyal to our friends, and Byatt and I are both terrible – but of the three of them, I think I’m most like Reese. Reese is as angry as I felt when I was her age, and we both have a complicated relationship with expressing emotion. That was something I wanted to really take from my own experience and put on the page.
What did you find most challenging about writing this book?
The hardest thing about WILDER GIRLS was conveying all of my research and all of the science through the point of view of a teenager. We learn about the girls’ disease through Hetty, and while there was so much I wanted to include, I also had to be conscious of what Hetty would really have reason to discover, and what she would care about. I wound up needing to cut a bunch of scenes because even though they were interesting to me, and even though they gave me a chance to use some of the information I’d learned in my research (there are shrimp that use the vibrations of the noises they make to stun their prey!!!!), they weren’t necessary to the story, or they weren’t something Hetty would actually be able to learn.
Were you inspired by any books or authors while you were writing?
I was hugely inspired by Jeff VanderMeer’s ANNIHILATION. When I read it, I had written a first draft of WILDER GIRLS and I didn’t really know what to do with it, or what it was. Reading ANNIHILATION really showed me a whole other kind of fiction I hadn’t yet discovered, and made me realize what I could turn WILDER GIRLS into. I have learned so, so much from Jeff’s work.
I was also really inspired by Nova Ren Suma’s THE WALLS AROUND US. The voice in that book is stunningly well done, and it gave me confidence to write WILDER GIRLS exactly the way I wanted to.
What are you currently reading?
I just finished THE CHEERLEADERS, by the incredible Kara Thomas, and am now diving into MUSE OF NIGHTMARES, by Laini Taylor. I loved STRANGE THE DREAMER so much, and I can’t wait to catch up with Minya, my nightmare terrible horrible goddess daughter.
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