Interview by Susan Faith Ellington, age 10
How did you come up with the ideas to write this book?
It’s pretty weird—I had the same job that Fovea has in the book! I was a receptionist for a cadaver lab! Thankfully, it was never as exciting as it was for Fovea. Definitely no talking heads. No creepy cremator. But some of the things in the book really happened—for example, when Fovea accidentally orders 600 legs? I did that!
Did you ever go to camp during the summer? Were some of those camps like the ones that happened to the main character?
I did go to camp, once. It was an overnight camp with crafts and horses and a lake—and the whole time I was there, all I wanted to do was finish the book I was reading! The good news is that I grew up to write books and not ride horses.
When her friend Em was no longer her friend, did you ever have something happen like that to you?
It happened to me in a way, although it wasn’t as bad as what happened with Em. The summer between fifth grade and sixth grade, my best friend decided she didn’t really want to be friends anymore. It was tough for a little while, but I decided to really throw myself into the things I loved: reading, music, and theater. And that was how I found the people who became my best friends for the rest of middle school and high school! As an added bonus, the friend who dumped me and I eventually became pals again. The truth is, we just needed to grow in different directions, and it was really good for us to go our separate ways.
Were you ever embarrassed by something your parents did?
Ha! Definitely. But you know what’s funny? I don’t remember any of those things! The things I remember are the times when they stood up for me or helped me or made me laugh. In the same way, I think eventually Fovea won’t be embarrassed by her parents anymore—what’ll be important is how much they love her.
The grandmother in the story was different from my grandmother. Did you spend a lot of time with your grandparents growing up, and if so what was that like?
Grandma Van isn’t very much like my grandparents, either! We didn’t get to spend a lot of time together, but the time we had was great. And they were funny and loved books, so I definitely think they were part of the reason I wrote FOVEA.
Being called “Igor” was hard and really talked about bullying. How do you think kids can use what the main character did when she was bullied?
Because of the way things go down at school, Fovea feels like she’s permanently friendless, and she doesn’t have much confidence in herself. By the end of the story, she’s made a new friend who appreciates her for who she is—and she believes in herself. I think one of the best things we can do when we’re being bullied is know that it doesn’t actually define us. It may be something we have to live through—but there are great things on the other side of it.
There were lots of funny parts to the book. What part made you giggle when you wrote that scene? The part about Whitney and Florida? Or the part when they are all riding on her grandmother’s scooter? Or when you wrote the “rap”? I really liked the band names!
I giggled so much when I was writing this book! There’s something strange that happens sometimes when I know the plot and the characters so well that I’m actually surprised by what I write. That happened a lot with this story. I think the heads made me laugh the most!
Do you think you might write a sequel? I would like one with Howe and Fovea maybe.
I’d love to write a sequel! I’m not writing one right now—but it would be so much fun!
Mary Winn Heider lives in Chicago. She is a member of the theater company Barrel of Monkeys and, through the company, teaches creative writing to third through fifth graders. She studied writing at the Vermont College of Fine Arts and briefly worked in a cadaver lab. The Mortification of Fovea Munson is her first book.
Susan Faith Ellington is 10 years old and lives in Columbia, SC. She attends A. C. Moore Elementary School, where she is a Bobcat Singer and plays violin in the orchestra. Susan Faith’s poems have been published by Richland Library in Kids in Print. She enjoys tap dance and playing the piano. Most of all, Susan Faith loves books and writing.