Interview With Ally Condie

Now, on to the best part of Breathless Reads week—the interview!

For the contest, I’m running things just like last time. All you have to do comment here and you’ll be entered to win a signed, finished copy of Matched. On Sunday, after 8:00pm Eastern, I’ll draw two names—one from the comments on this post, and one from Wednesday’s post—and announce the winners next week. A quick reminder: if you don’t have a livejournal, be sure to include a name and your email address and also (don’t throw stuff at me!) the contest is US-only.

Today I’m interviewing Ally Condie, who is incredibly sweet, and gives thoughtful answers about poetry, writing routines, and . . . Ky.

1) The world in which Matched takes place is beautifully realized and quite chilling. Were there any philosophies or historical events that inspired the terrifyingly homogenous Society that Cassia lives in?

I don’t think the Society in Matched was influenced so much by philosophies or historical events as it was by personal experiences and questions, if that makes sense. The first part of the book that I wrote was the part with the Match Banquet. And then I thought, What kind of a world would have to exist in order for an event like this to take place? and built the world around the event. I did do a bit of research into things like game theory, the prisoner’s dilemma, fertility, etc.

2) Without being too spoilery, Cassia finds insight and inspiration in the poetry of Dylan Thomas. Do you have a favorite poet, and if you do, can you tell us a little bit about their work and why it speaks to you?

I have a lot of favorite poets (a list is in one of the answers below). But one poet who really speaks to me is Leslie Norris. He was writing and teaching at BYU while I was there and he had the most lovely way of speaking his poetry aloud. So musical. It was beautiful to read and beautiful to hear. I also loved teaching his short story Shaving back when I was teaching high school. Apparently I have a thing for Welsh poets. ;)

3) And because this interview would not be complete without my favorite nosy question, who would you say is your favorite character in the Matched universe?

I like Cassia the best, because I think she grows the most. (And that is a great nosy question!)

4) In a semi-related question, I love Ky. Wait, that’s not a question. May I please have Ky? Pretty please?

Yes! You may have Ky. But only if I get to find out what happens to Mackie! ;)

5) The reach of the Society is so great that it’s limited Cassia in many areas of her daily life, particularly when it comes to art and literature. We learn early on that only a hundred poems have been deemed important enough to be preserved. What are some of the hundred poems that don’t get a mention, but still made the cut in your head?

Well, my personal list would be very different from the Society’s list. Poems that would make the cut for me wouldn’t make the cut for the Society because they have really whitewashed and homogenized their culture and eliminated anything that might be seen as subversive. Some of my favorite poets are Rita Dove, Julia Alvarez, Leslie Norris, Maya Angelou, Emily Dickinson, and, of course…Dylan Thomas.

6) Writers can be a little picky about routine and writing environment. For instance, I don’t like to write without music and something hot to drink and some background noise and something to keep my hands warm and probably some other things I’m not thinking of. Do you have any preferred writing conditions or routines?

Yes, I do. I have a certain hoodie I like to wear (because my office is in the basement and it gets cold). I drink a LOT of water while I’m writing. I have post-its and a pen and a pinboard on hand for note-taking. And if I get stuck in my writing, I try to get outside for a run, even if the weather is bad. It almost always takes care of the problem.

Thanks for stopping by, Ally!

Thank you, Brenna! These were great questions. And I am anxiously awaiting your next book.

53 thoughts on “Interview With Ally Condie

  1. Great interview! I also have to be wearing a hoodie and have tons of notebooks surrounding me when I write. And popcorn. For some strange reason, popcorn motivates me.
    I can’t wait to read Matched! I hear amazing things! (BTW, I had a moment of idiocy and forgot my name in the first comment. Would it be possible for you to delete it?)

  2. Great interview! I can’t wait to see Matched on bookstore shelves, making them all shiny!

  3. I am so excited for this book to come out!
    nice interview, very interesting.
    thanks for hosting the contest.

  4. I can’t wait to read MATCHED! I met Ally at the Utah’s writer’s
    conference in June and loved listening to her read her first
    chapter that she queried with and what the first chapter ended up
    as in the published version.

  5. This book is awesome.
    I’m reading this book right now (in ARC form) and it’s pretty darn amazing. Thanks for the interview Brenna. And count me in when it comes to the contest, i would love a signed hardback copy (with an actual cover and not just review quotes on a black background). haha.
    Name: Grace

  6. Interview
    My favorite from this was learning about her favorite poet. Plus number 4 was hilarious. I can’t wait to read this!!
    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  7. Am so anxiously awaiting Matched it’s not even funny! While I’m enjoying this blog tour, it’s also a sort of tortue…only a little while longer to wait! Great interview!

  8. What a great interview. I am an illiteracy advocate so if i win this book i will read it and donate it to Middletown High School. So i hope we win :)
    Thanks for the intervew and giveaway. Im jealous I bet she was awesome!

  9. Nice Interview! How interesting that you studied the prisoner’s dilemma and game theory. I am even more eager to get my hands on the book…I didn’t think that was possible.

  10. I’ve never heard an author mention drinking water (coffee, tea, soda, red bull, liquor…sure. Water, never) which now seems odd since that sounds like a very good, healthy habit to have. I’m going to have to try drinking more water and running without a care in a variety of weather-settings. :)
    Looking forward to MATCHED more and more!

  11. Great interview! I’ve heard such good things about this book! I drink loads of water too, when I’m writing!
    twilightforever.edward at gmail dot com

  12. Those were some great questions! I love that it’s kind of based off things to do with game theory, etc. I like a lot of water when I’m writing, too.
    (amadeax @ yahoo . com)

  13. From the moment I read the description of the book, I was hooked. And I love that there is inspiration from poetry in it as well! Awesome! Would love to win this.
    jilin at

  14. Awesome interview! I cant wait until this book comes out on the 30 th!
    I actually heard about his book a couple weeks after I read Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay. I cant wait!

  15. Have fun a the retreat, Brenna! I’ll be heading to the Breathless Reads tour stop in NYC (weather permitting) so I can’t wait to see you there.

  16. You have no idea how much I wish I had some magic bullet for you right now, Claire. It’s awful to be alert and intelligent and not even given the credit of being a sentient being. It’s just really . . . tiring.
    I can’t make promises or tell you how it’s going to be, but in my own experience, it does get better. My life took a sharp upturn after 10th grade because by then, I’d gotten through the general requirements and moved on to the things I wanted to learn. By junior year, I took classes with teachers who challenged us and gave us the freedom to have real discussions and choose our own projects, and they never talked to us like we were stupid or our ideas didn’t matter.
    It’s not a perfect science, but the law of averages says that there is at least one, and possibly two (or more—please, more) really amazing teachers at your school. They might not teach your favorite subject. In fact, they probably don’t. But you’ll hear about them from friends or guidance counselors or other teachers, and once you figure out who the best ones are, take a class with them if you can. Take another, because a good teacher can make you love even the things you kind of hate.
    For me, it was government. I’d never liked political history or talking about how congress worked, but I had the most amazing government teacher and after one quarter with him, I was hooked. I took every class he offered.
    I honestly think that the hardest thing for me was letting go of the conviction—so deep I didn’t even know that I’d internalized it—that all adults knew more than me, just by virtue of being adults. That they were all insightful and capable of giving me an education and when they didn’t, they were just withholding it, like information was a reward and I hadn’t jumped through enough hoops yet. As much as it pains me to say it, all teachers are not created equal and sometimes you wind up having to teach yourself, and sometimes they still get in the way.
    I thought about you a lot after I read this. I know the predicament so well, and it just reminds me so much of me. I tried to think if there was anything someone could have said to me that would have made me feel hopeful or reassured, and the truth is, there isn’t. The only solution was actually seeing things change, and that took time. Honestly, more than is decent or right. But things did change.
    Okay, here is what I would say: The world is full of people who will waste your time, and the victory is in figuring out ways to use the situation so that you make the most of it. Sometimes, a high school victory involves some pretty creative mental gyrations. I know it might be hard to believe, but you have more power than you think you do. You’re smart—you know it and I know it—and that by itself will go a long way toward turning your time there into something brilliant.
    (I am not encouraging you to become a supervillain.)
    (Just kind of a mastermind.)

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  19. Oh, those moments of profundity! I love and hate them. I’m always so disappointed by how they can never last. But then, I guess if they were a permanent condition, I don’t know if I could stand it!

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