Author Interview: Margarita Montimore

It’s New Year’s Eve 1982, and Oona Lockhart has her whole life before her. At the stroke of midnight she will turn nineteen, and the year ahead promises to be one of consequence. Should she go to London to study economics, or remain at home in Brooklyn to pursue her passion for music and be with her boyfriend? As the countdown to the New Year begins, Oona faints and awakens thirty-two years in the future in her fifty-one-year-old body. Greeted by a friendly stranger in a beautiful house she’s told is her own, Oona learns that with each passing year she will leap to another age at random. And so begins Oona Out of Order

Hopping through decades, pop culture fads, and much-needed stock tips, Oona is still a young woman on the inside but ever changing on the outside. Who will she be next year? Philanthropist? Club Kid? World traveler? Wife to a man she’s never met?

Surprising, magical, and heart-wrenching, Margarita Montimore has crafted an unforgettable story about the burdens of time, the endurance of love, and the power of family.

Oona Out of Order is a work of fiction that genuinely encouraged me to reflect upon my own mortality and the trajectory of my life. Oona wakes up on her birthday every year in a different part of her life. The difficulty this imposes is fascinating. Pop culture and music is ever-present, as Oona is a musician and chapter titles are taken from song titles or lyrics. What would it be to live your life out of order? To instinctively want to second guess and redo what you saw as failures? At the heart, Oona Out of Order is about mastering the art of living in the moment and it is a terribly fun romp.”

Rachel, bookseller at Avid Bookshop

Author Margarita Montimore’s debut novel Oona Out of Order has taken the book community by a storm.

She spoke with us about her inspiration for her book, her own favorite listens, and the importance of independent bookstores to our communities.

Photo by @krystiyaandwine

Please tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this book and how this story took shape for you.

Near the end of my thirties, I was having moments where I felt at odds with my external age. I’d find myself baffled that an album released when I was a teenager was celebrating its twentieth anniversary and wondered how I could be pushing forty when there were some days I woke up feeling like I was still nineteen.

Add to this a lifelong diet of pop culture with big doses of time travel movies, shows, and books, and that sparked an idea for a story. What if a woman felt at odds with her internal and external age because she actually was different ages internally and externally? What if this was because every year she time-travelled and inhabited her body at a different age, living her adult life non-chronologically? As soon as I had the seed for the story, the title Oona Out of Order came to me almost right away.

In two sentences or less, what’s something that might surprise listeners about your audiobook?

Some listeners have mentioned they don’t usually gravitate toward time travel stories but found this one compelling because it’s narrated beautifully and tells a more personal story.

Have you listened to your own audiobook? If so, what struck you about the narration?

Yes, and I was immediately captivated by Brittany Pressley’s narration. It amazed me how I’d get so caught up in how she told the story, I sometimes forgot I was the one who wrote it! I was also impressed with how Pressley gave each character their own unique voice and even adjusted how Oona sounded depending on her external age.

Are you an audiobook listener? If so, what are some of your favorite audiobooks?

I expect audiobooks are something I’ll be getting into more in the coming months and years, since I’m a fan of podcasts and have been looking for more interesting audio content. I haven’t listened to many audiobooks to date, but did enjoy Lauren Bacall’s autobiography By Myself and Then Some, narrated by the late Hollywood legend herself.

By Myself and Then Some

By Lauren Bacall • Narrated by Lauren Bacall

What have independent bookstores and/or booksellers meant to you personally and professionally?

A tremendous amount. Personally, indie bookstores have been a haven for me, and over the years I’ve spent countless hours browsing and discovering literary gems at favorites like The Strand in New York and The Harvard Bookstore in Cambridge, MA (the only time I visited San Francisco, one of the biggest highlights of my trip was visiting Green Apple Books).

Professionally, as an author, the support I’ve received from indie booksellers has been immeasurable. They were some of my earliest and still remain some of my most vocal advocates. From providing blurbs to posting photos on Instagram to featuring Oona Out of Order as a staff pick, I’ve been blown away to see firsthand how much the indies do for authors and their books. Beyond that, independent bookstores enrich their communities, so I take any opportunity I can to encourage people to support their local indies.

You can keep up with Margarita on her website, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and through her newsletter.

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