A 140-character limit Twitter Q & A with M. Molly Backes, author of Princesses of Iowa, conducted around midnight on Sept 2, 2013. Yay!
Laura: With @mollybackes author of #PrincessesOfIowa M, from the Iowa 80 to small-town life, you seem to know Willow Grove intimately. Connection?
Molly: Willow Grove is fictional, but I went to college in small-town Iowa & grew up in small-town Wisconsin. I heart small towns.
Laura: What came first for you, the small-town setting, the character of Paige, or something else entirely?
Molly: Paige came first, but I was living in NM at the time, and homesick for the Midwest, so Iowa was always important.
Laura: Paige is a complex character who grows much throughout #PrincessesOfIowa What do you see as her greatest weakness? Strength?
Molly: Thanks! I think her greatest weakness is her extremely narrow world-view. She is the center of her own universe to a fault. So conversely her greatest strength is her willingness to start expanding her understanding of herself & the world.
Laura: You give a wide array of personalities in #PrincessesOfIowa Who did you most enjoy getting to know throughout the process?
Molly: Of course I love them all, but I think that Nikki is my favorite. She always made me laugh. & Paige’s mom was wickedly fun.
Laura: Does your mother bear resemblance to the mothers of Willow Grove in #PrincessesOfIowa Or, did you know these women growing up?
Molly: I have known some critical mothers! Not my mom, but other women in my family, the mothers of my students…they’re out there.
Laura: You wove many themes in #PrincessesOfIowa bigotry/tolerance, popular/not so, interior/exterior. What was your initial spark?
Molly: The initial spark was the way we label ourselves & each other, & how those labels keep us from seeing deeper, truer selves. Which I think is the thematic umbrella for all other issues: popularity, homophobia, class, race, gender, expectations, etc.
Laura: Confession time: Are you, or have you ever been, a princess of Iowa?
Molly: Ha, that depends on your definition of princess. I once crowned myself the “Rabbit Princess,” but have no idea why.
Laura: Lacey is what one might term a “mean girl” in
#PrincessesOfIowa How do you feel about this label in general and/or for her?
Molly: I think it’s a popular trope for a reason, but I also believe that every human is far more complex than any trope would allow
Laura: What is your favorite scene in
Molly: The argument between Shanti & Ethan about whether it’s better to do nothing & look cool, or do something & look stupid. It’s a small moment, but it was something that I absolutely believed in, & was proud to put out in the world.
Laura: Shanti and Ethan were v. enlightened throughout
#PrincessesOfIowa Now a writerly Q, what are you working on now?
Molly: Oh lord, who knows. I’m battling my way through the jungle of doubt, self-loathing, & procrastination that is a first draft.
Laura: You sound like a writer! Last Q: What would you say to young women on both sides of the
Molly: Go easy on yourself. Take a deep breath. Be thoughtful. Imagine the kind of person you’d like to be, and work toward that.
Laura: Thank you for letting me Twitterview you! What a great experience to read
#PrincessesOfIowa and then be able to ask Qs live!
Molly: Awww, thank you! It was a good exercise in brevity. I could have answered every Q with a paragraph.