Girls Just Reading: We know that most authors do not have much say on the cover art for their book, but it seems like yours ties into the book immensely. Did you have some input and can you tell us (without giving much away) who the pictures are of on the cover? We have an idea but would like to see if we are correct.
Lauren Groff: I actually had no say at all—and am so glad that everything worked out so beautifully. Throughout writing the book, I did have an image in my mind for what the book would look like (a stark white cover, with the lake monster half-emerged in black and white along the bottom edge). I was so surprised to see my color scheme replicated, but in such an intricate and storytelling way by the paper-artist Beth White. As soon as I saw the cover, it was the first time it sank in that the novel was going to be published. And though I’d love to confirm your suspicions, I’d rather not explain the cover! First of all, because I could be wrong, myself (the artist and cover designer were the ones to make those decisions)—second, because I love the idea that individual readers could interpret things the way they want to.
GJR: How long did it take you to develop the outline for the book? Is this something you’ve worked on over a few years or was it something that you sat down and wrote over a few months?
LG: It took me three years to write this book, and never from an outline. It was, instead, the work of historical research and multiple complete drafts that I subsequently abandoned, keeping only the good ideas. A few months would have been fabulous, but unless you’re wildly prolific, that usually doesn’t end up being the timeline of the creation of a book—since I write first drafts freehand and then revise as I transfer to the computer, I have something like 1,500 pages of Monsters of Templeton in the world.
GJR: Glimmey, the lake “monster” in the story seems to be a version of another lake being, did you get your inspiration from the Loch Ness monster tales? How much research did you put into developing this character for the story? What types of experts did you reach out to?
LG: Glimmey comes form an enigmatic story I’d heard constantly when I was little, and from Moby Dick a little bit. His details are only from a delighted idea of possibility—I did some research on cryptozoology online, and I knew I wanted to make him parthenogenic and carry a great deal of the metaphoric weight for the story, but the rest of the details come from idly clicking through the internet. I sometimes think that too-intensive research tends to kill some of the imaginative possibilities in fiction—I’m pretty sure a creature like Glimmey is anatomically impossible, but I couldn’t really resist the ability to give him some of the attributes he has—like supersonic ears.
GJR: On the subject of Glimmey, we felt the intent was to parallel Willie and how she felt about returning home, her search for her father and so on. Are we correct in our assumptions?
LG: So sorry—again, I think I’m going to decline being the arbiter of this one. Primarily because I think Glimmey could be read in a dozen ways, and I did intend for it to have a multitude of readings, all of which are correct in each reader’s mind. So, you’re absolutely correct—as are fifty other readings of the monster!