I live for scary and spooky. Even better if you can fit it into a well-written book with excellent characters, writing, and pacing.
That’s how I discovered Madeleine Roux.
I picked up a copy of Asylum and never looked back. Of course, Asylum isn’t her only book. The New York Times Bestselling author has written a myriad of wonderfully dark, macabre, and spooky things.
And to my delight, she agreed to come on the blog today to chat!
Hi Madeleine! Thank you so much for letting me interview you. I’m happier than a kid-eating monster on Halloween. The Asylum series is one of my favorite YA series out there. It’s such a creepy, fun concept. What inspired the series (Asylum, Sanctum, and Catacomb)?
This is always such a tough question to answer, because I don’t really draw total inspiration from one thing when I’m writing a book. Little ideas and thoughts and details add up to a larger picture. Things like: I would like to try writing from a male perspective. I’d like to have a narrator that is struggling with mental illness and some of his issues can be resolved with medication and therapy. It’s a fine line to walk when you’re dealing with things like asylums, because you want it to be scary but you also want to avoid exploiting real horrors that happened to real people. The idea to add images came from the team at Harper, they were really keen to try and do a mixed media piece so we collaborated on the visual aspect, but that also gave me deeper inspiration, too.
I love how images and the story are interwoven in the Asylum books. I know you’re a huge gamer and I watched an interview with you from Epic Reads where you mention how much you like the interactive story-telling aspect of video games. Did video games inspire the mash-up of images and pictures as a sort of mixed-media novel or did that come to fruition later?
Like I mentioned, the publisher was the driving force behind the pictures, and I loved the idea of mixing historical photographs with images that they created with photoshoots and so on. I think my love of video games is more noticeable in wanting to create a totally immersive atmosphere, one that relies on sounds, smell and touch as much as it relies on what the characters are seeing (or think they’re seeing).
Oof, that’s a tough one. Can I pick a franchise? If so, it’s the Dragon Age series.
So I have to ask because your books are so wonderfully unique, what is your writing process like? Tea? Cookies? Music? Silence? Sitting in an abandoned sanitarium in the dark?
It can be anything these days, to be honest. Once you get to a certain place in this career you can’t be too precious about your surroundings. I’ve finished books on planes or in a coffee shop or wherever. I definitely prefer to be in my apartment, preferably with some atmospheric music and a nice long chunk of time to kill. These days I have to make sure the dog is walked before I start or he will try and interrupt, so I use those walks to brainstorm and come up with some new ideas for what I’m working on that day.
I love it and that’s sound writing advice. Write wherever and whenever you can! Since this IS a Halloween interview, do you believe in ghosts? Werewolves? Vampires?
I’m firmly undecided, which is such a cop-out, I know! I think I’ve had a few brushes with ghosts, but the mind is so unreliable, and memories especially, that I don’t even trust the things I’ve seen and felt. Never say I never, I suppose, and I’m always open to having my mind changed!
I may or may not have seen a ghost in my bedroom when I was a little kid. He was a nice ghost, but still, you know? It’s disorienting. It was so long ago that I’ve probably filled in the details to be more exciting and dramatic, but I just remember a man in a military uniform standing over my dolls in the middle of the night, looking at them with a sad expression. He wasn’t even threatening, just melancholy, but it was enough to send me flying under the covers. Could’ve just been a lucid dream, too, but who knows?
Whoa! That’s amazing and such a cool experience! Speaking of spooky encounters, what is your favorite scary movie?
Cabin In the Woods – can’t beat scary and funny. I’ll give The Ring a solid runner up spot.
Ah! I love them both. Cabin In the Woods is one of my favorites! I read a lot of author blogs and interviews and I hear Halloween is your favorite holiday. What do you love the most about it? Do you have a favorite costume?
I just love the feeling in the air – I love that people are sort of indulging in this huge, collective fantasy about spooky things, allowing themselves to believe in ghosts and so on for a little while. I’m not actually much of a candy person, but I won’t turn down cider or pumpkin pie. Carving pumpkins and making costumes from scratch was a huge part of my childhood, so those fond memories will always be with me. These days I actually go for the cheap and cheerful costume, I cosplay quite a bit so by the time Halloween comes around I’m exhausted from working on things. As you might guess, I don’t bring out the expensive, time-intensive cosplay outfits for Halloween parties, as they tend to get ruined. Last year I spent about 10 minutes making a Pizza Rat costume.
I’m pretty sure I’ve recommended The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter eighty times this year but I’ll keep doing it. It’s the perfect haunting autumn read.
Oh, thanks! I’ll definitely check it out! I’ve been hearing great things about that book. Now, if you could choose what goes on your tombstone, what would you have it say?
Here lies Madeleine, she died doing what she loved: Snuggling her dog and eating pizza
I think we’re kindred spirits in that aspect. Pizza and dogs are absolute life! Do you have a favorite Halloween song or creepy album?
I’m a big sucker for that KVXO “Pumpkin Dance” video, every October 1st I send it to my brother as a warning that the season has started.
I almost passed out when I read the summary on Goodreads for your upcoming work House of Furies. It. Sounds. Amazing. I haven’t read any more about it other than what’s on Publisher’s Marketplace but it reminds me of H. H. Holmes with a twist. Can you tell us anything about it or the characters? Where did this inspiration come from? And how can we time travel into the future to get our hands on all three books now?
I seriously wish I could tell you everything about it, but I want readers to be surprised. In a lot of ways it’s a big departure from Asylum – it’s a period piece, for one, and the main character is a young woman this time. It’s also in first person. There are going to be some dazzling illustrations to go along with the book, all custom created by a talented artist, and possibly some photographic elements as well. I wouldn’t so much go to Holmes and his murder hotel for reference, I’d put it more in the park of Jane Austen meets Penny Dreadful. I’d love to spill everything about it, but May will be here before you know it!
Ahh! Jane Austen meets Penny Dreadful…be still my heart! I absolutely love it! Let’s move on to the lightning round!
Say the first word that comes to mind when you see the prompt!
Ha! I love it. Thank you so much Madeleine for stopping by! It’s been an absolute pleasure and I’m such a huge fan. You’re the best! And I’ll be counting down the minutes until your next book!
About Madeleine Roux
MADELEINE ROUX is the New York Times Bestselling author of the ASYLUM series. She received her BA in Creative Writing and Acting from Beloit College in 2008. In the spring of 2009, Madeleine completed an Honors Term at Beloit College, proposing, writing and presenting a full-length historical fiction novel. Shortly after, she began the experimental fiction blog Allison Hewitt Is Trapped. Allison Hewitt Is Trapped quickly spread throughout the blogosphere, bringing a unique serial fiction experience to readers. Her new YA series, House of Furies, debuts summer 2017.
Born in Minnesota, she lives and works in Seattle, Washington.
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