Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Q&A with author M.L. Malcolm

Here are a few questions I had for M.L. Malcolm author of Heart of Lies:

1. The novel was previously published under the title Silent Lies. After reading the book I think Heart of Lies fits the subject matter. The lies Leo Hoffman tell are lies of the heart. Why the change in title?

The very experienced marketing department at Harper Collins, my new literary home, decided that Heart of Lies was a more attractive title, and if Harper is happy, I’m happy!

2. As part of your research, you used your husband's family history within the novel. Did they mind being the subject of your novel? Did they offer a special insight?
My in-laws have always been incredibly helpful and supportive. Over the years I collected many riveting anecdotes about how various members of the family had managed to escape the Nazis; these provided the makings of a great book, but I didn’t really want to write a WWII story, so I looked for a way to explore those experiences in a meaningful way within a different historical context. At one point my mother-in-law became concerned that some of my readers would think that her father had been a diamond thief, but hopefully my comments at the end of the book make clear that I simply used their experiences as a launching point!

3. Why tell the story from different points of view? Why not just stick with Leo's perspective?
When I write I am literally watching a movie in my mind, and I like changing the camera angle from time to time. Sometime it’s because that’s the way the scene came into my head and it just felt right; at other times changing up the point of view allows the reader to experience the story more forcefully. For example, when the waiter hands Leo’s letter to Martha, he has just inadvertently turned her life upside down, but we experience her pain through his reaction to it rather than being in her head the whole time, and I think that’s more powerful, in part because it’s unexpected. Like in that famous scene from, “When Harry Met Sally,” where the grandmother says, “I’ll have what she’s having,” the impact of the main characters on the people around them can add depth (and humor) to a story. Also, there are several main characters in the book, and they each had an important part of their own story to tell while the other characters were “offstage.”

4. Leo's marriage to Martha starts off with a lie. He tries to redeem himself, but his relationship with his daughter Maddy is also full of lies. Why not break the cycle by the end?
Leo gets caught up in some pretty dire situations. He lives under false pretenses, but he lies to himself as often and as severely as he lies to others, and the consequences play out in pretty dramatic and often unanticipated ways. Leo is starting to face up to all this by the end of the book, and is trying to redeem himself; he gets farther along in this process in the sequel. But life is very complex. There are no simple answers and no easy fixes. I ended the book on a hopeful note, because for both Leo and Maddy, just having a reason to hope is a pretty big change.

Notes: I previously posted a review of Heart of Lies. Check it out at:
We also have a copy available for a giveaway at: For more information on M.L. Malcolm visit:

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