Today I have the opportunity to interview Grape Merriweather from Libby Heily’s novel, Welcome to Sortilege Falls, which is due out this June.
Hello, can you tell us your name and a bit about yourself.
Hi! My name’s Grape Merriweather. I’m a junior in high school. We used to live in Watts Landing in Virginia but we moved to Sortilege Falls, Missouri a few days ago. So far, so bad. About me…hmm…well, I want to be an actress for sure. I love acting. It isn’t just about being on stage and all the attention. I love becoming a character. It’s an amazing feeling. I love Lance Irving, he’s my favorite actor. I’ve seen every episode of his show, Stone Huntington, Teen PI. I guess private investigator would be my next choice of possible careers. OMG, and I talking too much? I know it, I’m sorry. Ugh. Embarrassing.
Where are you from and what is it like there?
I’m from Watts Landing, VA. It’s nothing special, I guess. It’s a town well south of DC. There’s an airforce base nearby and a cool mall and a lot of parks that my brother likes a lot. All my friends are there and my memories. It’s weird, leaving the place you grew up. I mean, yeah, I’d rather forget the time I tried to do a trick on the swing set at Oskabee Park and I fell and skinned my knees, but I’m going to miss walking past that park and laughing a little at the memory, you know? Watts Landing was home.
Now, I live in Sortilege Falls and nothing here feels quite right. There’s a guy who works with my mom who totally wants to be a vampire and the kid down the street has about a billion lawn ornaments and he tried to serenade me outside my house one night. Oh yeah, my math teacher looks like a witch and did I mention that there are a ton of professional models in this town? I swear, the models have mind control over all the students at my high school. It’s insanely creepy. So yeah, I miss Watts Landing.
Who do you admire most in your world? Why?
My mom. She’s a doctor, pediatrics. She treats a lot of kids, some of whom are terminally ill and I know it takes a toll on her but she just keeps going. I’ve asked before how she does it and she says she focuses on all the kids she can help, even if that only means making their remaining days on earth as good as possible. I couldn’t do it. Deal with that kind of heartbreak every day. Plus, she’s really come through for us as a single mom. My dad passed away a few years ago and Mom has been there for us in a major way. She’s really amazing. And goofy. Really goofy.
What are your goals? What do you have to do to achieve them?
I love acting. In Watts Landing, I was lucky enough to be cast in a lot of great roles including Lady MacBeth. I’ve read a lot of plays, like a lot of plays. I practice monologues in my spare time. But, since moving, my mind just hasn’t been on acting. I’ve been pretty distracted by bloody roses left in my locker and school secretaries sniping at me all the time.
What’s the most embarrassing moment in your life?
Every moment in Sortilege Falls has been incredibly embarrassing. My first day, a gaggle of models decided to pick on me. But I’ve also made a bunch of faux pas myself as well. Who knew you needed a map of a new school because no students will help you? Or how can saying you’re a fan of an actor make you feel like an idiot?
Do you have a best friend?
Absolutely I do. Kelly. She’s in Watts Landing and if it weren’t for her, I’d surely go nuts. I mean, our texts are what keeps me sane. Plus, and I’m not proud of this, but when I do something really dangerous, like chasing a possible killer, I call Kelly and make her listen so she can tell the police what happened if need be. I know. That’s pretty crappy, but we all need something to make us feel safe, and Kelly does that.
What is your favourite food?
All food all the time. I have an intense appetite. No one tries to make me feel bad about it. My metabolism is wicked high but pretty much if you see me I’m either eating or thinking about eating.
If you were to take us on a tour of your world, where would we go and what would we do? Is there places we should avoid?
In Sortilege Falls, there’s a lot to see. First, I’d take you on a gnome tour. This town has a garden gnome fetish that is out of control. They’re everywhere, and I mean everywhere. I’d also point out all of the houses owned by the models. You can tell them easily enough, because they’re way bigger than normal houses. And we’d end in the woods behind our house. My brother spends way too much time there. There’s something weird about those woods. I keep thinking I’m seeing things back there, like a…well, I don’t want to say or else you’ll think I’m crazy. But we’re hitting the woods up because I want someone else to see it and tell me I’m not crazy.
As for places to avoid, yeah, anything where the vampire guy hangs out. Nothing’s normal when he’s around.
What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you?
So far, everything in Sortilege Falls is strange. I’ve been ignored by every student and most of the teachers. Just getting directions from these guys is a chore. It’s insane.
What’s the greatest adventure you’ve ever been on?
This one, no doubt. I’m spying, lying, crying, and nearly dying. I cannot believe how crazy my life has gotten. In Watts Landing, I was worried about Junior Prom. In Sortilege Falls, I’m more worried about my friends dying.
What’s the best thing about you?
Wow, you’re not shying away from tough questions today, are you? Well, let’s see. I’m not a good speller, not that that’s a super useful skill. Hmm… I’m good at constantly going forward. I think I get that from acting and my mom. I was in a play in junior high where my scene partner forgot all his lines. That night was a struggle but I just kept going, saying his lines and mine and cuing him in when I could. I guess I’m like that most days in most ways. You just have to keep going. Even when you’re life is threatened by an angry model. Yikes.
Thank you, Grape, for being here today and for sharing your world with us — every day sounds like an adventure!
Synopsis of Welcome to Sortilege Falls:
Sixteen-year-old Grape Merriweather has just moved to Sortilege Falls and already she knows something isn’t right. A small pack of teenage models, too beautiful for words, holds the town in their sway. The models have no plans on making Grape’s life easy. But no matter how cruel they are to Grape and the other “Normals”, no one can stay angry with them for long.
Grape’s life changes for the better, or so she thinks, when Mandy, the only “nice” model, befriends her. But that’s when the trouble truly begins. Mandy’s friendship places Grape smack in the middle of a medical mystery that has the entire town on edge. One by one, the models fall ill from an incurable disease. Grape quickly realizes that the models’ parents are hiding a secret, even as they watch their children die. To save her only friend, Grape will have to find the truth–and that means putting her life in danger.
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I was born during a blizzard. I’m told it was cool but I have no memory of that time. I grew up in two tiny towns in Virginia and spent most of my twenties moving around the US. I’ve lived in Virginia, Florida, Missouri, and Washington. I’ve settled down, for now, in Raleigh, North Carolina.
I’m a writer and improviser. I studied acting in college but spent more time rewriting lines than memorizing them. My first play, Fourth Wall, was produced my junior year. Since then, I’ve written several full length plays, one acts, and screenplays. I started writing fiction in my late twenties. Now, I focus mainly on novels but still dabble in theater.
Fun facts about me: There are none. I’m sorry to disappoint you so soon. But, I do love to read, write, and run. My hubby is my favorite person on earth. Dogs are my second favorite. All dogs. Know that. I love orange juice, especially when it’s mixed with club soda. Carbonation is better than alcohol. Jaws is my favorite movie. Everything I’ve said so far is true.
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