Courtney Summers' debut YA novel, Cracked up to Be, is coming out from St. Martin's Press on TUESDAY. Blurbage:
WHAT’S THE WORST THING YOU’VE EVER DONE?
When “Perfect” Parker Fadley starts drinking at school and failing her classes, all of St. Peter’s High goes on alert. How has the cheerleading captain, girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, consummate teacher’s pet, and future valedictorian fallen so far from grace?
Parker doesn’t want to talk about it. She’d just like to be left alone, to disappear, to be ignored. But her parents have placed her on suicide watch and her counselors are demanding the truth. Worse, there’s a nice guy falling in love with her and he’s making her feel things again when she’d really rather not be feeling anything at all.
Nobody would have guessed she’s turn out like this. But nobody knows the truth.
Something horrible has happened, and it just might be her fault.
I have been waiting for it for years...okay, maybe A year, but I am very excited about this book. (Plus I lurve Courtney--she makes me laugh all day on Twitter--but that is beside the point.) After you've read the interview and entered the contest, you can go read the first two chapters here, and you'll need it like I do.
I know, I've given you all these links and you want to click them. But no. Be patient. First, the interview! We did get a leetle bit crazy. But just enough to entice, really.
1. Your imminent and utterly fabulous book CRACKED UP TO BE, being YA, has some nasty high school scenes. What was your most embarrassing experience in high school?
Is there a person out there who has gotten over their most embarrassing high school experience enough to actually admit ON THE INTERNET what it was? But I don't want to cop out and let you down because you are so ~*sparkly*~, so here is one of my most embarrassing experiences: I had really short hair during my (brief) time in Catholic high school. REALLY short hair. Like, Winona Ryder at her Shortest Short Hair. I dunno why. It was likely to save myself the trouble of brushing it. I still remember wanting to die when I heard the following words spake in my direction: "Why is that boy wearing a kilt?"
And that is all I will say about that.
2. Though I have not yet read all of CUTB (I will pounce on it the very first second it appears in a retail establishment), I sneak-previewed your first two chapters online. What struck me the most was how very real the voice was: I was immediately sucked into Parker's head, and her perspective. Did you work to achieve that, or did the voice come fairly easily?
Aw, thank you so much! Parker is pretty sarcastic and bitchy. I don't know how bad it sounds to say I never have to work too hard to get into the headspace required to write someone who is like that, but there it is (now who wants to be my BFF?). I have to say, writing a book is always tough, though... I think if one part of telling a story comes easily, your novel will inevitably be difficult in different ways to make up for it. Parker's voice came to me very clearly, but figuring out the reveal of her Big Secret did not. I kept giving it away too soon and then having to go back and edit it like, fifty bajillion times.
3. What part of the writing beats you up the most? Which comes most easily to you? (or should I say which do you pwn?)
All of it. I mean, all of writing totally beats me up, from start to finish. There are brief moments of reprieve, but I have a feeling I'm just so concussed by my own words at those points that they're all in my imagination. Pwnation comes when the book is done and done. And that can take... a while. *sob*
4. How have things changed since you got The Call? How has it affected your writing?
One of the biggest things that has changed is the way I manage my time. I have more things to keep up with than I did before (social networking, promo stuffs, replying to people in a timely fashion), and I have to be able to stay on top of them while finding the time to write. I don't always succeed. So finding a balance, I think, is going to be an ongoing adventure for me. As a result of Cracked Up to Be's sale, my writing process has become slightly more organized. Like, I OUTLINE now. I used to HAATEEE outlining. What is up with that.
5. Tell me about the ~*sparkles*~ and the sparkle hos.
I was saving this chapter for my autobiography--IN SEARCH OF JEFF PROBST--but I will tell you and only you about The Origin of ~*sparkles*~ and ~*The Sparkle Hos*~ because you have a way of asking questions that makes me want to answer them, just like Barbara Walters. The ~*Sparkle Hos*~ are a vigilante group of Twilight fans who right all wrongs in this corrupt, justiceless society, sort of like your world's Batman. We inherited our ~*sparkles*~ from the ~*sparkliest of them all*~ (Edward Cullen) and cut bitches with our ~*sparkle knives*~. Sometimes we pair up with The Outsiders and save orphans from burning buildings, if we feel like it. In our free time, we like to search the world for Carmen Sandiego. Wednesday is our Twilight Book Club Day. We drink tea and eat crumpets and discuss the Meyerverse at length. Sometimes we beat up Jacob Black fans just for kicks. By the way, are you Jacob Black fan, Susan? I ask for for no particular reason.
6. You put together a book trailer for CUTB that made the rounds of the internets pretty successfully. Can you talk about trailers as promotion, and the best way to tackle putting one together?
I know lots of authors feel differently about how effective self-promotion is in the long-term but as M.J. Rose says,"No one will buy a book that they do not know exists." I think making a book trailer for your novel can go a long way into getting the word out. My editor was thrilled when I told her I wanted to do it. I was fortunate enough to have my friend Daisy Whitney (http://daisywhitney.com) feature it on her New Media Minute and her segment on NCB's KNTV (thank you, Daisy!) and these were great opportunities for exposure--neither of which would have occurred if there'd been no trailer there in the first place. You can't overstate the value of actively promoting yourself, really. As far as putting a trailer together--that was a more intuitive process. I experimented with Windows Movie Maker for months before the final trailer was released, just to get a sense of how the program worked and how to best take advantage of its features. I scanned in the hand drawn elements (the notes, the hangman, the broken heart) and the rockin' photographs and music were provided by talented artists who I got in contact with well before the trailer was released. They gave me permission to use their work. Everything was taken care of by the time the trailer went live, and I think choosing to releasing it prior to the book's release (I know some people make a trailer after the fact), allowed for some nice build.
7. What music did you listen to most while writing CUTB? What are you listening to now?
I listened to lots of melancholy, emo tunes or really angry rock/alternative songs while writing CUTB. Matthew Good's song, Anti-Pop really headed up the Cracked Up to Be playlist. The chorus is very Parker: "You're not my girl, you're just tired." Right now, I'm listening to a lot of mah girl, Britney. Cause she's FIERCE and I heart her. Circus, Womanizer--SO SATISFYING. And songs from Lily Allen's upcoming album (I can't wait for it!). Also the Twilight soundtrack/score because when I buy in, I buy in. And Matthew Good Band's The Audio of Being. Brad Sucks's latest release, Out of It, is in constant rotation. All good stuff.
8. Time for your own magical words of advice: one sentence of wisdom for wanna-be writers out there. Go!
Go straight at it.
Yay! Thank you so much, Courtney!
Now, the CONTEST. Simple as eating pie. Add a comment to this post with the word ~*sparkle*~ in it. (It doesn't have to have the fancies, but you get extra karmic bonus points for them.) Entries close at noon Montana time Saturday, December 20. Then we'll do a random draw for...
your very own copy of CRACKED UP TO BE!
I know. I would fight you for it, if I wasn't already buying my own copy and taking it away with me.
Ready? Go! Be ~*sparkly*~!