To the litany of ever-younger literary phenoms you can now add Upper East Sider Amanda Marquit. Bored at 14 during a summer theater program at Andover, Marquit began working on Shut the Door, a novel about a family in a nameless suburb that moves from repressed normalcy to utter lunacy and depravity over a couple of weeks. Marquit, now 18, spoke with Boris Kachka about her fledgling literary career.
So how did you get around to getting the book published?
Well, I got an agent first, a literary agent.
And how did he find out about it?
My parents are friendly with this nonfiction literary agent. And when I finished my manuscript, we consulted him to, you know, find out who to submit it to in the fictional realm. But he became really interested in it himself, and he wanted to take me on. Right after we decided to go with him, St. Martin’s displayed interest in a young new fiction product, and it just so happened that my book was what they were looking for. So, it was really linear; I was really lucky, pretty much.
And how did you get
I’ve always just been a person who likes to write, and I’ve always done short stories, and when I was very little I used to write poetry, and even when I was 13, I tried writing a novel—I mean, I shouldn’t have been writing a novel at that point, at all. It was just stupid.
But 14 was okay. Did anybody ever say to you, Maybe you should take your time;
maybe you should put this book on the shelf and work on
Um, actually no. I mean, when I would say I was writing a novel, most people would just be sort of taken aback or I guess they didn’t really take it seriously.
What sort of research did you do?
Well, self-mutilation is a topic that comes up in the book, and I’ve never had any firsthand experience at that.
The only other thing I did was I had my dad call call-girl services, because I wanted to know exactly how you would deal with a customer on the phone. He was totally happy to do it.
did your parents feel about your
writing about all this dark stuff?
They were really, really supportive about it, mostly because they know that it is very much not an autobiography.
Did you take any of your inspiration from private school?
I went to Spence for a while, so that definitely influenced me. I would list that as the primary influence in terms of, like, seeing the dark side of the teenage girl.