Becoming Michelle







There will never be a time in your life that’s more exciting than your teenage years. It’s when you learn about how the world works, what you like and dislike and, if you’re quite lucky, what you aspire to be. You can wake up one morning, feel the urge to pick up a paintbrush and release your inner Picasso. Perhaps an hour of boxing can make you fall in love with martial arts. Even a simple midnight snack hunt can turn into a low-budget knock-off episode of The Fat Kid Inside.

At this age, the possibilities are endless. Just take the time to explore your interests and widen our horizons.

In the book The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, the first in the Mara Dyer trilogy, Mara discovers that she has a special skill too. It’s not as practical as painting or cooking, but it’s definitely useful if you want to be like Bryan Mills in Taken 3. Let’s just put it this way: You wouldn’t want to be the Regina George to Mara Dyer’s Cady Heron.

Upon moving to Florida after a traumatic “accident,” she slowly uncovers secrets from her past, one that includes paranormal powers, secret stalkers and dead best friends. She also meets Noah Shaw, another swoon-worthy character who we can expect an Ansel Elgort or a Miles Teller to play in the movie version (fingers crossed!)

For this week’s Young STAR, we caught up with author Michelle Hodkin during her book tour in Manila to talk about the inspiration behind the trilogy, her ideal Noah Shaw, and Mara Dyer’s superhero theme song.

YOUNG STAR: What inspired the Mara Dyer trilogy?
MICHELLE HODKIN: I’ve never written before in my life. Not even as a child, not in elementary school or high school or college. I’ve never done any creative writing. What drew me to write the book was a girl who I encountered once before. The story was loosely inspired by events that may or may not have happened to her. I started writing on the plane ride home from New York to South Carolina. I was practicing law at that time and writing the book just took over my life. I couldn’t not do it.

Your first book, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, is about a teenager who discovers a paranormal power that eventually takes over her life. In a way, she “becomes” someone she didn’t expect to be. Why use the term “unbecoming” in the title?
I knew that the book was going to be about the transformation of this girl. I’d always had the ending in mind, so I knew what she was going to become by the end of the trilogy. Even though she’s changing, it’s not necessary that she’s becoming someone else as much as she is unbecoming what she had been. She is, in some ways, evolving and also devolving.

Who is your dream Noah Shaw?
I didn’t know who would be the equivalent now. But I have always been enamored with Troy Dyer from the movie Reality Bites. He was an aimless philosopher who’s also kind of a jerk but has a softer center. Even though Noah is different from Troy in a lot of ways, I was definitely thinking that I want to infuse elements of Troy into Noah’s character. If you can’t put the things that you love into your own books, then what’s the point of writing? (Laughs)

If you could have a special ability, what would it be?
The power of persuasion. That’s always been a compelling idea for me. It could be used for good or evil, and I love stuff like that.

Who would create Mara and Noah’s superhero theme?
I think Mara would choose Fiona Apple.

Who would win in a fight: Mara or the Incredible Hulk?
Mara, because she could kill him before he even changed.

What are your tips for aspiring writers?
Read everything. If you don’t read everything, you can’t write anything. There’s something to be learned even from books you don’t think you’re going to like. You can always look at why they’re popular and why other people are drawn to them. It’s also important to devour every genre because there may be stories that you didn’t think you will get inspired by that will end up inspiring you. The second part of that is to never give up. Rejection is inevitable. People are not all going to like your stories. The only difference between authors and writers are authors are the writers who never gave up.

You can grab a copy of the Mara Dyer trilogy at all Fully Booked branches nationwide.

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