Interview with Alyssa Sheinmel, author of Faceless
27 Nov 2015
Faceless is the story of Maisie Winters, a “normal” girl whose face is partially destroyed in a terrible accident. She’s lucky enough to be a candidate for a face transplant, and luckier still when a donor becomes available just a couple months after her accident. But Maisie doesn’t feel lucky. As far as she’s concerned, a face transplant is the type of thing that happens in horror movies, not in the real world. Still, she chooses to go through with the procedure, telling herself that spending the rest of my life with someone else’s face is better than spending it with no face at all. But with someone else’s features staring back at her in the mirror, Maisie looks – and feels – like a stranger. The doctors promised that the transplant was her chance to live a normal life again, but nothing feels normal anymore. Before, she knew who she was – a regular girl who ran track and got good grades, who loved her boyfriend and her best friend. Now, she can’t even recognize herself. Most of us – thankfully – will never find ourselves in situations as extreme as Maisie’s. But a lot of us still struggle to discover how much of who we are is tied to what we look like.
If you could have dinner with anyone, alive or dead, who would you choose and why?
My grandmothers. There are so many questions I never got to ask and so many things I still want to tell them.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
When I was in first or second grade, my sister suggested that I start reading The Baby-Sitter’s Club books. They were the first books I ever really, really loved and I think it was falling in love with that series that turned me into a reader.
What is the one movie that you can quote the most?
I love this question! Honestly, it’s hard to pick just one movie – my sister and I have had entire conversations in quotes from Terms of Endearment and Soapdish and anything written by Nora Ephron. But if I had to pick just one, it would probably be The Princess Bride. At the rehearsal dinner before I got married, my best friend stood up to give a toast and instead recited the entire wedding ceremony from The Princess Bride – I’m not sure I’ve ever laughed so hard.
What’s your spirit animal? (it doesn’t have to be an animal)
My little dog is without a doubt my spirit animal. We have the exact same personality.
If you had to pick one place to vacation for the rest of your life, where would you choose?
Big Sur, California.
What’s your favorite quote or scene from Faceless?
My favorite scene is probably the very first chapter, when Maisie is out running the morning of her accident. The book takes place in Northern California, near where I grew up, and I tried my best to capture what it’s like there early in the morning. There’s something kind of magical about it because it feels like the whole world is blanketed in fog and eerily quiet.
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
I have a bunch of quotes hanging above my desk, and there are actually quite a few that I try to live by. One of my favorites is the first verse of “Beautiful” by Carole King:
You’ve got to get up every morning with a smile on your face
And show the world all the love in your heart
Then people gonna treat you better
You’re gonna find, yes you will
That you’re beautiful as you feel
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