I'm so excited for you all to read this author visit! After reading Hanging on to Max I knew I had to have Margaret Bechard come! What's even more amazing... She lives an hour away from me. Just thinking that when I'm in the town where she lives and go to starbucks that I could bump into her... Well you get the picture :)
Where did your ideas for Hanging on to Max come from?
I first got the glimmer of this story when my oldest son, Alex, was a freshman in high school. (He is now 29 years old, so it was a while ago.) One of the girls he knew became pregnant and she and her family were grappling with many questions: should she have the baby? should she have an abortion? should she give the baby up for adoption? Because I knew this girl and in fact, the father of the baby as well, Alex would come home and he and I would talk about all of this. And it struck me that, in all of these discussions and questionings, no one ever mentioned the father. So, finally, I asked if he was involved in this at all; was anyone asking him what he thought should happen? And Alex said, “Oh Mom. You know him. He doesn’t care.” And, well, yes. I did know this guy, and I did know he didn’t care. I knew, in fact, that he was probably perfectly happy that no one was talking to him about this baby. But I started thinking. This is pretty much what writers do, all the time. I started thinking, “I can imagine a boy who would care. I can imagine a boy who would care a whole lot.”
And that was when the seed of the story was planted. I wasn’t really ready to sit down and write the story yet. I had the situation, but I didn’t know anything about who this boy might be or where he might live or who his friends might be. I had an idea, but not a story yet. I wasn’t ready to tell this story yet. I actually just pushed the idea to the back of my mind and went on writing other things. Until one day, one day I was driving, and I heard the voice of this kid. I got this whole little paragraph in his voice. (I know. That just sounds weird. And it doesn’t always happen that way. That was a gift, and I’m not sure how it came about.) I just started to get little bits and pieces of dialogue and thoughts and eventually I realized this could be the boy with the baby. This could be Sam.
It still took me another two years to actually write the book.
Do you think Sam makes the right choice?
I do think that Sam makes the right choice. When I started the story, I thought he would end up keeping the baby, but as I got to know Sam better--who he was and what he needed--I realized that he couldn't keep Max. That would not be the best ending for Sam.
Do you have any personal experience with teen pregnancy?
No I don't. Except for that friend of my son's.
Why did Sam end up with a whole different girl?
You know, I get this question a lot, and it always kind of surprises me. When I thought about possible endings for the story, I never even thought about having Sam stay with Claire. I'm not sure that Sam and Claire are really in love. I think they are kind of thrown together by their common experiences. And I really don't think that Sam could have been a good father to Emily AND Max. He was barely able to parent one baby. I don't think he was ready for two kids. And I think Claire went on to have a very good, happy life. Claire had a lot of support from her family. I think she turned out fine.
Would you tell a teen girl to keep her baby or put it up for adoption?
I would, I hope, talk to her about all her possible options, given her background and her life. And then I would want to let her make the decision. It's too big a decision to let someone else make for you. Once she had made her decision, I would hope I would do my best to help and support her.
Who is your favorite Author?
Well, that's a hard one to answer because I have a lot of authors I like a lot, who I read for different reasons. Barbara Kingsolver and P.D. James and Terry Pratchett and Annie Proulx are some that come to mind. Probably my all-time favorite author is Jane Austen.
What are you currently reading?
Actually I am reading P.D. James's new mystery, The Private Patient. In kids books, I just finished reading Unwind, by Neal Shusterman and The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson. And I am listening to Rick Riordan's The Lightning Thief.
Any future book plans?
I am working on another contemporary YA novel. And I have an idea for another science fiction story.
Do you have any signings planed?
Nope. No signings any time in the future.
Thanks again Margaret!!!
Readers, If you have not read Hanging on to Max please do so. It was one of the best books I have ever read. It takes a lot to make my list.