About the author
A. J. Steiger graduated from Columbia College in Chicago, where she majored in fiction writing. She has lived her whole life in the Chicago suburbs, though she enjoys regular visits to other galaxies and dimensions in her mind. She’s a freelance writer and transcriptionist with an enthusiasm for anime and pancake houses. Mindwalker is her first book for young adults.
1. What got you into writing?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I feel like I was born with the impulse to tell stories. When I was a kid, I would handwrite everything; I filled up dozens of yellow legal pads and notebooks with scenes and short stories. Once I got a computer as a teenager, I wrote my first full-length novel. To me, typing is a lot more fluid and natural than writing by hand. I can edit as I go along, play with the order of paragraphs and sentences, etc. It feels very organic.
2. Where did the idea for MINDWALKER come from?
I’ve always been fascinated and disturbed by the idea of memory modification. There’s a quote from Gregory Maguire that I like—“Memory is a part of the present. It builds us up inside; it knits our bones to our muscles and keeps our hearts pumping.” The power to alter someone’s memories is the power to change their identity.
I started thinking about how people might use memory modification to forget past traumas, like war and abuse. But I wanted to take the idea even further and explore the larger social ramifications. What happens to truth when we can manipulate what we remember? How might institutions use this power to control public perception? What happens to human rights, especially for vulnerable minorities, when technology can trespass so freely in the most private sphere—the mind?
3. Who are some of your favourite authors?
It’s really hard for me to pick a favorite. I like Lev Grossman’s The Magicians and its sequels, as well as Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials trilogy. When I was a teen, I read a lot of fantasy and science fiction by Mercedes Lackey and Andre Norton. I’m also a fan of Stephen King’s earlier work, particularly his dark fantasy.
4. Who inspires you?
Temple Grandin. She’s an animal scientist and autism activist, and she got people thinking in different ways about a lot of issues. I’m inspired by anyone who challenges the dominant paradigm, who defies categories and labels or shatters prejudices.
5. What do you do when you're not writing?
I read, watch movies, daydream, and spend time with the people I love. A lot of my hobbies are indoor things, so I make an effort to get out into the world every so often and remind myself that there’s a universe beyond the screen and the page. I go for walks in the woods. I visit museums and aquariums. I’m fascinated by nature and living things.