I am so excited to welcome Audrey Burges to the site! Her new novel, The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone, is out now!
Audrey, welcome! Tell us more about The Minuscule Mansion!
The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone is part magical realism, part romance, and part very-overbearing-magical-house. It centers on the titular blog, The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone. Myra has mostly stayed inside the walls of her house since experiencing an accident as a child, and she’s spent her life maintaining the world inside a smaller house’s walls—the Minuscule Mansion, a dollhouse (which she insists is not a dollhouse) that she inherited not long after her accident. Myra’s best friend, Gwen, cajoles her into putting her pictures and stories about the house online, and it goes viral not long after. Not long after that, Gwen and Myra hear from a man who lives across the country, Alex Rakes, who lives in a full-sized version of the Minuscule Mansion—a version that is identical, right down to his bedroom furniture. How can this possibly be true? Over the course of the book, the reasons become clear.
What is your favorite chapter?
This is a hard question! But if pressed, I would have to say that I loved the blog entry in Chapter 21, “Don’t Call it a Dollhouse.” I love how it gave me an opportunity to explore just how strange it must be to have a site like this one go viral and the kinds of interesting and surreal contacts Myra would get from the outside world. And Graham Cracker—stuffed though he may be—is one of my favorite random details in any book I’ve ever written.
Who was the trickiest character to craft?
This one is easy—Rutherford/Ruth, hands down. As a character, his personality is as shut off and buckled tight as the Mansion at night, and when someone is that closed off, it’s hard to find cracks in the armor to show the reader where he came from and why he’s that way.
What inspired you to write The Minuscule Mansion?
In the fall of 2020, I was trying to think of a lighter-hearted book to write because I had been querying (unsuccessfully) a much darker novel, which was pretty inconsistent with my voice and audience as a humor and satire writer. Like everyone else during the early days of the pandemic, I was looking for an escape and often found myself scrolling through social media late at night. One of the things I kept seeing were miniature kits that people would order online to make “book nooks” – little libraries that slotted between books on a shelf. They had the kinds of detail that drew me in: fireplaces, lights, spiral staircases, tiny little volumes. I adored them, as I’ve always adored miniatures and algorithms being what they are, my computer kept feeding them to me until I suddenly realized, “This could be a book.” The book I originally planned to write was a romantic comedy, but it took a turn very early on, with an eye winking in a mirror. Once that happened, I knew exactly where I was going.
How long did it take you to write The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone from start to finish?
Believe it or not, I can answer this question exactly—for the first draft, at least. I had the idea on October 3, 2020, and told some of my writing friends about it in our group text. And then I started writing, and the story came out very, very fast. By November 1, I had the complete initial draft—just over 70,000 words. Between my agent’s and my editor’s suggestions, the full book came out to around 84,000 words, but the bones of the story remain the same!
Let’s talk writing! Did you always want to be an author?
Always. Always. My entire life. I wrote my first book when I was eight years old. It was called “The Dragon That Couldn’t Fly.” My mother put it in a real binding and pasted my picture in the back with an “About the Author” biography. The fact that my parents always believed in my stories—that they believed, from the earliest moment, that they were worthy of a binding and a biography—put that notion in the back of my head from an early age. It just took me nearly forty years to actually get there! With a more-than-twenty-year break in there.
Are you an outliner, or do you just wake up and start writing?
I’m an in-betweener. A plotser, I think it’s called? I go into all of my books with a fairly clear idea of where they’re headed, and when they get complicated, I tend to outline the highlights of each chapter. There are some books that come out very quickly and in a mostly linear fashion (Mansion was like that, and my fourth book was, too), and then there are some that take a lot more planning and cogitating. It tends to swing back and forth for me, from book to book.
Can readers expect to see more books from you soon or a sequel to The Minuscule Mansion?
They can expect to see both, I hope! An excerpt from my next book, A House Like an Accordion, is printed on the back of The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone. I’ve since written two more books and hope to be able to share news about them soon. And a sequel to Mansion is also in the works!
Before I let you go, tell readers where they can find you on social media.
You can find me on Twitter at @audrey_burges, on Instagram at @audreyburges, and on Facebook at @aburgeswrites. My website is audreyburges.com, and it has links to all of my writing. Thanks so much for asking and for your interest!