YEM Author Interview: Maria Ingrande Mora chats about being able to write queer characters and represent the community in her book The Immeasurable Depth Of You

Maria Ingrande Mora is the author of The Immeasurable Depth Of You. The Immeasurable Depth Of You follows Fifteen-year-old Brynn who is obsessed with death. The novel explores heavy topics such as suicide and depression. YEM was able to speak with Maria about if the book is inspired by her real life, what she likes the most about writing for a young adult audience, and if she is considering writing a sequel to The Immeasurable Depth Of You.

Young Entertainment Mag: How does it feel to have your book The Immeasurable Depth Of You coming out?

Maria Ingrande Mora: Publishing is a long journey, and I’m over the moon to have The Immeasurable Depth Of You coming out in the world. I wept when I held it for the first time! This book is deeply personal in many ways, so I feel a little exposed and vulnerable in addition to being excited. I’m sure most authors feel that way about their novels, though, whether they’re intensely personal or not.

YEM: Did you intend for this to be a queer coming of age story from the start, or was that something that came naturally?

Maria: I don’t recall making a conscious decision to make Brynn queer. She arrived fully formed in my head identifying as bisexual, and that’s likely because my own sexuality was a major part of how I moved through the world at her age. That being said, the farther I got into the project, the more fierce I felt about honoring Brynn’s queerness and how it impacts her lived experiences.

YEM: Was any part of the book inspired by your real life?

Maria: Brynn and I share a lot of diagnoses, and experience having severe anxiety since childhood had a natural influence on this story. I also set the book in my hometown! This allowed me to bring the lush, weird setting to life. I had so much fun exploring Florida wetlands through the eyes of someone who has never been down here. It rekindled my love for our wild ecosystem.

YEM: What is your writing process like?

Maria: I draft at a standup desk, typically in the evenings, with a consistent playlist. I often have a candle that I light while I’m working on the first draft to help me get into the right headspace. I tend to try for a goal of 500 words a day, six days a week, throughout the drafting process. I use stickers on a calendar to track my progress, as well as the progress bar in Scrivener. I don’t outline heavily, which means I do a LOT of heavy lifting in revisions. (And then regret all of my choices up until then.)

YEM: What does it mean to you to be able to write queer characters and represent the community?

Maria: Queer folks are not a monolith, so I feel both a responsibility to my community and an awareness that the representation in my story is only a reflection of Brynn’s experiences. As a person attracted to all genders, my own sexuality had a large influence on Brynn’s. But I don’t think my experiences are universal. That being said, now more than ever, I’m grateful for the opportunity to write queer books. At a time when lawmakers are trying to silence queer voices, we have to keep making art. We have to keep showing up — being loud, being authentic, being complicated.

YEM: What do you like the most about writing for a young adult audience?

Maria: I adore writing for a young adult audience because books meant everything to me when I was a young adult. I spent so much of my adolescence lost in books, and it delights me to be able to offer that escape to young people. When writing about mental health, I feel especially tender toward young readers. Teens are going through a lot right now, and they deserve stories that honor their experiences and affirm them.

YEM: What is something you hope your readers take away from your book?

Maria: I hope that readers will find inspiration in Brynn’s journey of self acceptance. Acceptance isn’t magically being “fine” one day. It’s developing resilience and coping strategies and self-love. If this book can contribute to that in any way for any reader, I will be so honored.

YEM: What is some advice you have for someone who might want to write a book someday?

Maria: Don’t get too hung up on what you’re writing when you’re just getting started. Every word “counts.” Journaling, fanfiction, roleplay, poetry — you name it. Those are all worthy exercises as you develop your voice.

YEM: Who is a writer that has inspired you?

Maria: Ellen Kushner inspired me to tell complicated stories that just happen to be queer.

YEM: Is there a line or quote from your book that is your favorite?

Maria: I agree with Brynn that “Florida felt like an armpit.” As much as I truly adore my home state, the humidity is pretty gnarly in the summertime.

YEM: Is there someone who always reads your work first?

Maria: It varies, but I’ve been blessed by early readers who are willing to take a look at snippets of wildly messy first drafts. I wouldn’t be here without them.

YEM: Are you considering writing a sequel to The Immeasurable Depth Of You?

Maria: The book’s journey is complete, but I hope readers let their imaginations run away with them! Brynn’s story is just beginning.