'Mara Dyer' author Michelle Hodkin talks her love of YA darkness and R.L. Stine -- EXCLUSIVE

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I love it when authors have a playlist for their novels like you do. How does music help you write?
It helps me nail the mood and the tone of the things that I’m writing. For Unbecoming in particular, I remember vividly getting stuck at points and then a song that I had listened to in high school would come up in my iTunes rotation and I would get unstuck. It would bring me back to that moment in time and I would be able to draw on those feelings and memories and infuse them into the book. So the first book, I call it my Fiona Apple book. I listened to a ton of Fiona Apple while I was writing it. Her lyrics are absolutely incredible.

Speaking of music, I loved that Kelli Schaefer was featured in the trailer for The Evolution of Mara Dyer. I suppose you didn’t have much to do with that…
Actually, I had everything to do with the trailer! It’s a really interesting story, one that I love telling because it came together in such an incredible way. When Simon & Schuster approached me about doing a trailer, I immediately thought first of my younger brother. In high school, he had a video production company and had done a lot of videos. I immediately thought of him and another friend from high school who’s now producing Broadway and off-Broadway shows. So I talked to them and got their sense of what it would take to do something like this. My brother came back with a director and my friend came back with a casting director who had worked on the casting for Gossip Girl.

That would explain it. It’s a sexy trailer.
Right? And someone who was actually in Gossip Girl was in the first trailer: Tyler Johnson. But I came back with these resources and [my friend] had produced a show most recently that I was actually in New York to see called White’s Lies. And Christy Romano was starring in that show and I heard her voice and I just immediately thought, that is what Mara sounds like in my head. I talked to him and I was like, do you think she would do the voiceover? He asked her and she said yes. I went back to Simon & Schuster and said look, I’ve got all these elements lined up. Will you give the thumbs up for us to run with it? And they said absolutely. So my younger brother, who was 20 at the time, was the showrunner for all of this. I couldn’t be happier.

Any movie plans?
There has been lots of interest, and interest from names that you would know. But I can’t say anything. [Laughs] It’s a long way from interest to coming soon to a theater near you.

Do you have anybody in mind for the lead roles?
I didn’t really think about that when I was writing it because the characters existed so clearly in my mind. But so many wonderful fans have submitted form art, which I always re-blog on Tumblr. The people that they like a lot… For Noah, I’ve seen a ton of Max Irons, that seems to be their No. 1. I think he’s really beautiful and it doesn’t hurt that he’s British and tall, so he definitely has a lot in common with Noah. And I’ve seen a lot of Kaya Scodelario from [the British version of] Skins for Mara. What’s most important to me is, if a movie were to happen, that they pick people who could nail the acting. Noah is described much more in detail than Mara is. Mara’s anonymous, so I want that amorphous quality that she could be anyone. Noah, of course, if he’s really short that’s not going to work so well. But thankfully there are tons of tall, British, messy-haired actors out there to choose from.

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