“One thing I really wanted to do with Since You’ve Been Gone was have a lot of different types of friendships. And that’s why Frank Porter has a girlfriend—I really wanted him [and Emily] to be straight up friends for most of the book. And Frank and Collin’s boy friendship. And friendship her brother. And her new friendship with Dawn—I sort of wanted to look at friendship from various angles.”
In Since You’ve Been Gone, one of the main character developments for Emily, the main character, is her coming out of her shell, which Matson said although it wasn’t something she didn’t directly deal with in high school, it’s something she dealt with in college, and also something we all deal with throughout our lives.
“I don’t know anyone who is confident in every situation…I feel like life is a series of falling back a few steps and having to find you confidence and move forward. But that you have to do it. That’s hopefully the takeaway from that book [Since You’ve Been Gone]—you can’t keep hiding behind trees at a party. It’s not going to work.”
Matson mentioned that it surprised her how much people expected Sloane to be a mean girl and want Emily to be in her shadow, but it was never her intention. Sloane and Emily’s friendship is the focus of the novel, and in the book Sloane is trying to get Emily to get out of her comfort zone and experience new things. “She doesn’t want a sidekick,” Matson said.
Morgan Matson is notorious for her incredible romantic interests, and Since You’ve Been Gone’s Frank Porter is no different. In the book, Frank Porter and Emily’s friendship is integral to the story, and to both of their developments as characters.
“It was important for her to become really good friends with Frank, because I think in her mind if there had been a girl she had suddenly been really good friends with then she would’ve been disloyal to Sloane. And so I think the Frank friendship takes both of them by surprise, and because neither of them were expecting they both get a lot out of it.”
Matson writes all her books in order, because it makes the most sense. “One of my teachers in college called it ‘the clothesline’ that you can hang the garments on, but you have a structure threaded through the book…That’s where the list idea came from. I wanted some structure. I made up the items on the list—and they were different in the first draft, I changed them as I wrote different drafts—but I wrote them all without any idea of how she was going to do them.”
In all of Matson’s books there’s a specific moment where it all comes together. In Since You’ve Been Gone, that moment is where you understand Sloane and her motivations as a character. Matson said that in her books, “no ever says what they feel for the entire book and then suddenly everything changes.”
Her next book is The Unexpected Everything which will come out May 16th of 2016, and the cover was just revealed this week on Lauren Conrad’s blog. Morgan pitched it as this:
“The book is about a girl named Andie who is a planner. She’s got her whole life figured out—she knows how it is with guys and school and friends. She’s got this prestigious internship at Johns Hopkins, and everything is going the way she wants it to. And her dad is a prominent Congressman, and right as the summer starts he becomes involves in this scandal and all her plans come crashing down. She loses her spot in the internship, she has to stay home all summer with her dad, who she hasn’t really lived in the same house with for a long time, and the only job she can find is walking way too many dogs. But she’s at home with her three best friends, and she meets a cute boy named Clark whose own plans have also gone a little awry and are in disarray. So over the course of the summer, she learns to embrace the summer that was the last thing she expected with the last person she expected, and get swept up in this letting go of her plans and this new way of thinking, but the question remains—what’s going to happen when the summer comes to an end?”
In The Unexpected Everything, readers will get to enjoy Matson’s first book about a full-fledged relationship occurring in the book. Matson discussed how it was a little out of her comfort zone, but it’s because in her books people have to get to know one another. “I really liked seeing them in a relationship together. It was an interesting challenge but it was one that I really liked.”
Look for Morgan Matson’s next book out in May—it sounds like it’ll be just as good as her past ones have been.
This interview was a part of the Texas Teen Book Festival’s press, but was conducted by me. You can read more of the coverage of the festival here.