By Elizabeth Gracen:
Adriana Mather is a multi-talented force to be reckoned with—mother, author, film producer, and actress. She's escaped the clutches of Hollywood to create a civilized life with her adorable family in the very area of the United States that serves as the setting and inspiration for her first #1 NY Times bestseller YA novel, How To Hang A Witch. She followed her debut with Haunting the Deep —both books inspired by Mather's real-life family history. Her latest novel, Hunting November, has just been released in hardback from Penguin Press, and she's currently working on a romantic comedy to add to her impressive oeuvre. Add to that the busy life of mother to an camera-friendly little boy named Wolf and creative and romantic partner to her writer/filmmaker husband James Bird—featured earlier on Flapper Press for his novel, The Brave—let's just say that Ms. Mather is an inspiring, busy, creative powerhouse with the wind at her back.
Please meet Adriana Mather!
EG: Adriana, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. First of all, congratulations on all your terrific books. I actually met you before you became an author, so I’m more familiar with your work as a screenwriter, producer, and actress. I saw HONEYGLUE at a film festival in Hollywood around 2016, and I never got to tell you in person what a terrific job you did in that film. It was an incredibly moving performance—a dream part for an actor—and you really brought her to life. I hope that more acting is in your future, but I wanted to talk to you today about your career as a best-selling YA author—which must have launched shortly after you finished that film? Please tell me how you made that leap into writing your first novel, How to Hang a Witch.
AM: Thanks so much for putting together such thoughtful questions! It’s funny, because you would think my movie and book worlds would be more connected, but very few people know me from both. So this intersection is particularly fun for me.
The truth is, I actually never planned to transition into novel writing. But then came an unfortunate snowboarding accident in Utah, where I landed myself on my mom’s couch for two months with two plates and twelve screws in my left arm. The pain sucked, but the icky feeling of not being active was so much worse. And that’s when my first book idea—How to Hang a Witch—started forming. Necessity breeding invention or some such? I always knew that I was related to Cotton Mather, who had instigated the Salem Witch Trials, but during my down time, I became curious and decided that I should visit Salem to do some research. And as soon as I set foot in that wondrous town with its black houses, cobblestone streets, and endless haunted tales, I knew there was a story there that had to be told.
EG: Just to get this out the way—I see in your bio that you played rugby at Vassar? That’s impressive! When I read that it caught me off guard. In person you are fine-boned, almost delicate. My husband was a rugby player, so I know how brutal that sport can be, so it’s hard for me to put it all together in my mind! How did you get interested in rugby, and do you miss it? What was it like being on a rugby team? Is it a sport you recommend to other young women?
AM: Haha. I actually started playing because I became instant best friends with a girl on my hall the first week of college, and she asked me if I wanted to go to rugby practice with her. And I thought, sure, why not? Well, let me tell you, I was the girliest rugby you ever saw: cute workout clothes to roll in the mud, blow-dried hair, the whole nine. They nicknamed me Rugby Barbie, and no one thought I would last a month, which of course meant I was not only going to join that team but I’d be damned if I wouldn’t be good at it. I played my entire college career (minus the year I spent studying abroad in India), broke my nose and my leg, but never quit. In fact, I went to nationals twice. I loved that team so very much, and I’m still best friends with the girl who invited me to go to practice with her. I would absolutely recommend it to other young women, but with the caveat that I saw (and experienced) a lot of injuries.
EG: Okay, back to books! The real-life history surrounding your first two books is fascinating. I’m sure you’ve told these stories hundreds of times by now, but I would love for you to tell our readers about the origins of your inspiration to write your first two books.
AM: My ancestors instigated the Salem Witch Trials, lived in Sleepy Hollow, and survived the Titanic. My grandmother used to walk me through her house when I was a child, telling me stories of forbidden love, failed inventions, and overseas adventures. I was completely charmed by reading the letters my relatives wrote hundreds of years ago, and my imagination went wild. I kept thinking how much I wanted to bring these dark intrigues into a present-day setting. And when I couldn’t get the idea out of my head, I decided to embrace it and write modern mysteries (How to Hang a Witch and Haunting the Deep) using my family history (the Salem Witch Trials and the Titanic) as clues.
EG: I love YA lit—especially stories about witches and magic—so I’ve just put my order in for your books! I think I may still be stuck in my teens somewhere in my psyche! Did you grow up in Massachusetts? What were your teen years like?
AM: YA is interesting because it actually isn’t a category based on the sophistication (or lack-there-of) of its content but on age; it’s categorized as literature containing a teenage protagonist. There are lots of crossover in YA and multitudes of worthy books for adults, so don’t worry for a second. Plus, YA often deals with firsts, which are a ton of fun and have heightened stakes.
I actually grew up on Long Island, and it took me until my 20s to visit Salem. But now I live there, and I love the crap out of New England.
Ah, my teen years. Haha. I’m weirdly uncertain how to answer this question except to say that they were a lot.
EG: I’ve been working on a documentary project for the past four years called The Gen Z Collective, and I’ve talked to a lot of young people all over the United States about how they feel about the current state of the world and the future. They are an incredibly passionate generation, and I find them inspiring. This is the target demographic for your novels. How do you draw their current concerns and issues into your writing? What do you think of Generation Z?
AM: The reason that I love writing YA is because more than anything I believe in our youth and want to invest in them. They are being handed an imperfect world at a challenging time, but they are also rising up and taking action. I know they will change things for the better, and I could not be more proud of Generation Z.
EG: Hunting November just came out in hardback. You’re busy with your young son, and I know you must be writing your next novel. What’s next for Adriana Mather?
AM: Hunting November is the second book in my Killing November series, and it was an absolute blast to write. (In fact Hunting November contains my favorite scene I’ve ever written.) But once I finished that thriller series, I started to work on a romantic comedy—two actually. Something silly and swoony and fun.
Elizabeth Gracen is the owner of Flapper Press & Flapper Films.
Order Adriana Mather's books: