10 Random Things About Hole in the Middle by Kendra Fortmeyer

Summary from Goodreads

How do you know who you are when part of you is missing?

Morgan Stone was born with a hole in her middle: perfectly smooth patch of nothing where a something should be. After seventeen years of fear and shame, doctors and nurses, “peculiar” not “perfect,” she has had enough of hiding.

Feisty, feminist and downright different, Hole in the Middle is the story of what happens when a girl who is anything but normal confronts a world obsessed with body image and celebrity.

368 pages
Published July 6th 2017 by Atom Books


 10 Random Things about Hole in the Middle

1. Hole in the Middle is the first novel I’ve ever written – until this, no other idea seemed big enough.

2. The book began as a short story I wrote for a class. I met with the professor the week prior to tell him I was writing a story about a girl who had a hole in the middle of her body. He chuckled, “I cannot imagine how in the world you’re going to pull that off.”

3. It was hard to pull off, at least as a short story. There was so much stuff to explore: the way we, as a society, judge girls’ bodies and assign moral value to them as a result (she’s fat = lazy, she’s curvy = slutty, she’s skinny = desperate). The glory and power of female friendships. The complexity of mother-daughter ones. Also, the main character just wouldn’t stop talking. I thought, “Okay, I guess you want to be a book–!” and we were off to the races.

4. It took about a year to adapt the story into a full-length novel, and many, many revisions. (The finished book is about 80,000 words, but my “deletions” document contains about 50,000 more.)

5. As a short story writer, I invented all sorts of bizarre machinations to remember where things happened in the enormously swelling Word document. My favorite was to use a very particular word in a scene and then never use it again in the entire book, like “cerulean” or “neroli,” so that I could find the scene again later by doing a word search.

6. An early draft of the novel heavily featured a therapist character named Dr. Wallace, who was later cut from the book. I miss him sometimes, and friends who read very early drafts ask what happened to him. The truth is, he did very little to drive the plot forward. He was primarily a helpful mechanism for me as I figured out how to write a novel – almost like he was my own, on-page writing therapist, even as I crafted him and his office and the world it was nestled in. Although he’s gone, the shadow of him remains in the pages in a pleasing way; I think he’d be proud of the way the book has grown up.

7. The concepts of romance and internet personae were two that bloomed biggest in novel form. I’ve long been fascinated by the idea of defying fate and fateful romances, and one of the biggest questions the story version asked is: What if the person you’re “meant to be with” turns out to be someone you don’t like very much? This is toned down in the novel. There is a crushes-and-kisses romance in the novel, but it feels almost tangential (I think) to the real and radical romance of a girl figuring out who she is and what she wants.

8. The power pop band “Yum Yum Situation” is an imaginary band I had with my friends Jason and Elliot when we worked a remote wilderness project with AmeriCorps.

9. The gene that creates the hole in the main character’s body, ICF-3, is named for my little sister, Ivy Camille Fortmeyer, who is three years younger than me. She is, herself, a scientist.

10. There are no real bad guys in this book. There are antagonists, but ultimately, they’re just other humans motivated by loneliness and bad communication. This felt important to me, as so much of the book is about a young woman figuring out how the adult world works: There are rarely actual mad scientists and cruel dictators and people who are out to ruin your life just for the sake of Being Evil. Realizing that the world is more nuanced than that is part of growing up: enormous and sad and ultimately, I think, hope-inspiring.

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