Interview with Maggie Lynch, Author of The Power of S.A.D. (Mariposa Lane Book 1)

22 May 2024

What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write The Power of S.A.D. (Mariposa Lane Book 1)?

I grew up the oldest of nine children in a working-class family who made barely enough to pay for housing and food. If anything happened, like an appliance broke down or a hospital stay, we were off kilter for months. Yet, no matter how tough things became—from the death of my five-year-old brother to eating beans for a week when finances were difficult—I never felt scared because family stood together. Not just my immediate family, but my extended family as well. My maternal grandparents were licensed for six foster girls when I was nine years old. They had already raised five children of their own, yet reached out to help more. They lived only seven blocks away, an easy walk from our home to theirs. The girls became a part of our extended family. We embraced them like cousins. As I learned how different their disconnected families were from mine, I was astonished at their maturity and resilience. I couldn’t imagine having to adapt to a new home among people they didn’t know, sometimes also part of a culture very different from their own. Over the next 35 years, my grandparents took in more than 100 foster girls. Some were short visits (less than a year) but many were with them for five years or more, staying until high school graduation. My extended family is still in contact with many of them and considers them forever part of our family. For a long time, I’ve wanted to give a voice to the stories of the 100,000 to 300,000 children who enter foster care every year in the United States. The characters in my stories are, of course, composites of the girls I knew, their backgrounds, and experiences. More than revealing a difficult past, I want to show how foster children manage to succeed even in the face of extreme adversity. How good foster parents can make a big difference in these children’s lives. How they, like all children, need an entire community to care about them: schools, friends, social networks, and opportunities to still be a part of their cultural background. If we open our eyes, instead of looking away, each of us can make a difference in a child’s life.

If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of The Power of S.A.D. (Mariposa Lane Book 1), what would they be?

I don’t tend to think of songs as they relate to individual characters, but I do write down songs I know or find that relate to themes threaded throughout the novel.  “Broken and Beautiful” by Kelly Clarkson, “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton, “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong, “You’ve Got a Friend” by James Taylor.

What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?

I’ve never been a one-genre reader or a single-genre writer. I read different things for different emotional needs. I will say that everything I read must have an emotionally satisfying resolution. I like mysteries when I need a puzzle to solve. I read romance when I need to know enduring love can exist even through troubled times in a relationship. I read SF/Fantasy primarily for commentary on the present through the lens of a future world or magical world. I don’t read horror or thrillers where the bad guys never get caught and there is no justice. In terms of writing, I write in all the genres I love to read. Just as my reading is based on my emotional needs in that week or month, my writing seeks to provide those same emotional “cookies” to my readers.

What books are on your TBR pile right now?

I am currently reading a non-fiction book titled “Zero Theology” by John Tucker who is a Methodist Minister. It is a very interesting, and rather academic, approach to becoming a more faith-based Christian by letting go of a specific theological approach. I’m only a couple of chapters in but find it fascinating. On the fiction side, I have several queued-in series I want to catch up with across multiple genres. I think there are around 40 I’ve downloaded and haven’t found time for yet. When I’m writing, I rarely have time for reading. That means I binge-read in between manuscripts.

What scene in your book was your favorite to write?

This is a hard one because I have several favorite scenes. Unable to narrow my choice to one, I’ll share two. There is a scene where Akna learns to change a tire. It is a rite of passage for girls in the foster home. I created this scene because my grandfather had a rule that all girls in the family needed to learn how to change a tire. He didn’t want any of them waiting for a man they didn’t know to come by and help. I still have a picture of me, at age nine, changing my first tire and my seven-year-old sister running up to help me work the lug wrench. Accomplishing that feat and changing the tire made me feel like I could do anything in the world. Another favorite scene is later in the book when Akna’s mother comes to visit her at the foster home after they haven’t seen each other for six months. Not knowing if she will tell them they are coming home with her or staying in foster care, Akna and her two sisters each have different feelings about the possible outcomes. Before they go downstairs to meet her, they gather their “S.A.D. Powers” together under a skylight as the sun shines down on them. It is one of many scenes in the book that made me cry as I wrote it.

Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)

I use far too many sticky notes to keep track of details. When I’m in a story, I’m 100% in the moment. That means I don’t remember details that have already happened. I can easily get names mixed up because I change them frequently when I start until I settle on one that fits around chapters three to five. I also keep stickies with quotes related to the themes and something I need to resolve. By the end of the first draft, my monitor is covered—often three or four deep—with sticky notes at every edge. I do have two cats with opposite personalities. One loves to sit in the window next to me and sleep as I type. I think the sound of the keyboard is soothing to her, and having her there is also soothing to me. The other is an attention hog. When she decides I have been ignoring her for too long, she will hop on my desk and start messing with the wires behind the monitor. Though it’s frustrating it is also a sign for me to stand up and move around. Otherwise, ten hours later I can barely walk from my office to my bedroom.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

I have one that describes everything I write, no matter the genre, and how I believe we make it through life’s challenges. “People making heroic choices one messy moment at a time.” No one makes it through life without messes. But we have to keep moving forward, taking the next step, and making the best choice we can at that moment. Sometimes that choice doesn’t work out and we are set back for a bit. But we learn from failure as much as success, and the next time we will make a better choice. I have a second quote I recently added as a sticky note on my computer. It is something I heard in an interview with Suleika Jaouad. “Survival is its own kind of creative process.” For me that relates well to the challenges of everyday living as well as writing.

If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?

First, to know that every person, whether five years old or seventy+ struggles with life. No one has it all figured out. No one has it easy. If you are struggling and not able to move forward, reach out to someone and share what you can. Ask for help. There are more people out there who care than you think. Second, I hope that reading this book makes people think about reaching out to others who are “different” and getting to know them; perhaps even making a new friend. I have found that being a part of a friend community that embraces a diversity of beliefs, cultures, and ways of approaching the world, has always made me a better person.


Maggie Lynch is the author of the new book The Power of S.A.D. (Mariposa Lane Book 1)

Connect with Maggie Lynch

Author Site


Buy The Book

B0CZJN7HYM cover image

Buy The Book

Sign up for our email and we’ll send you the best new books in your favorite genres weekly.'