Friday, August 16, 2013

Feature Friday: Sarah McCarry

Sarah McCarry was born in Seattle and lives in New York. She is the editor and publisher of Guillotine, a chapbook series dedicated to revolutionary nonfiction. All Our Pretty Songs is her first book. Find her online at www.therejectionist.com

Interview:

A.L.:
What piece of advice would you give to a budding author?
Sarah:
Read all the time and write all the time and go out into the world and run around in it as much as you can. And I think one of the most useful things you can learn as a writer is the difference between criticism that comes from someone who understands the kind of book you are trying to write and criticism that comes from someone who wants you to write the kind of book that suits them, which are very different things. The first kind of criticism is useful to you as a writer and the second is not.

A.L.:
What's your favorite book and why?

Sarah: 
Oh dear lord, that is an IMPOSSIBLE question. Impossible. I love a lot of books, very much, for very different reasons. I think in terms of books I love that probably went into this book, Francesca Lia Block and Elizabeth Hand are both very obvious influences, and I also loved Emma Donoghue's book of fairy tales retold, KISSING THE WITCH, which was a big influence on me as a young writer. And definitely Blake Nelson's 1994 book GIRL and Bett Williams's GIRL WALKING BACKWARDS, and all of Kelly Link's short stories. I didn't read Ovid until I was in my twenties, but I teethed on the myths that Ovid pillaged from (including the mythology of Orpheus, and of Persephone, which is the starting point for the second book in the trilogy).

A.L.:
Where did you get the idea for All Our Pretty Songs?

Sarah: 
Orpheus and Eurydice is about the goth-est myth ever and is a really perfect framework for a story about teenagers and rock and roll. But I always knew I wanted to twist the ending; stories in which the boy is the hero (even if he is a failure as a hero, as Orpheus is in that particular myth) are not that interesting to me. And I knew that I wanted to write about the Northwest, and about the nineties, so all of that knitted itself together very well.

A.L.:
Did you hit any snags while writing All Our Pretty Songs?  What were they and how did you fix them?
Sarah: 
Honestly, my biggest struggle when I am writing tends to be dealing with my own self. I am a terrible procrastinator, I go to great lengths to make sure I am too busy to put time into my own work, I spend a lot of time and energy pursuing very unproductive trains of thought, etc. I wouldn't say that problem is "fixed," but a lot of things help--taking good care of myself, setting really clear boundaries with my freelance work, and the oft-cited Butt In Chair approach, which I have found to be pretty successful.

A.L.:
Which one of the characters in All Our Pretty Songs is your favorite and why?
Sarah: 
Raoul! I love Raoul so much--I know it is a terrible cliché for writers to say their characters take on a life of their own, but there were times I honestly forgot Raoul was not a real person. He remains very dear to me. He is the voice of compassion and reason in the novel, but he is also pretty cheeky. I like to think he is an excellent balance of kindness and spark.

A.L.:
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey as an author?
Sarah: 
Messy and long. I've written my whole life, but it wasn't until I moved to New York five years ago that I was brave enough to acknowledge I wanted to do it as a career. And at this point in my life, there's not much else I can do--I didn't really have any options other than making it work. Thankfully it seems to be (knock on wood), but it was an arduous and difficult path to get here, for sure.

A.L.:
What are you working on now?  Sequel?  Something new?
Sarah: 
I am at this very moment in a tiny cabin in a tiny town on the very northwestern edge of the country, spending a lot of time on the beach and writing the third book in the trilogy, which is about sailing and the stars and figuring out whether what you came from has anything to do with what you are. Also: Medea.

A.L.:
What made you write a novel that set best friends against each other?  Are you speaking from experience?
Sarah: 
To me, they're not so much set against each other as coming to the painful realization that what they've meant to each other in the past might not be enough to keep them together in the future. I think one of the hardest lessons you can learn as a human being is that love is not always enough to keep two people on the same path, which is I think a pretty universal experience.

A.L.:
Where is the best place to get dumplings in Brooklyn?

Sarah: 
The beef momo at Cafe Tibet in Ditmas are delicious, but really you have to go into Manhattan for soup dumplings at Joe's Shanghai.

A.L.:
How much trouble have you gotten into/how much insurrection have you formented?  Do you have a wrap sheet?  Or is that a secret?  J

Sarah:
Ha! A lot, but I should probably plead the fifth. Let's just say I've never actually gotten arrested.

The Giveaway:
Sarah is giving away a copy of ALL OUR PRETTY SONGS and it's international!

All Our Pretty Songs:  The first book in an exciting YA trilogy, this is the story of two best friends on the verge of a terrifying divide when they begin to encounter a cast of strange and mythical characters.

Set against the lush, magical backdrop of the Pacific Northwest, two inseparable best friends who have grown up like sisters—the charismatic, mercurial, and beautiful Aurora and the devoted, soulful, watchful narrator—find their bond challenged for the first time ever when a mysterious and gifted musician named Jack comes between them. Suddenly, each girl must decide what matters most: friendship, or love. What both girls don’t know is that the stakes are even higher than either of them could have imagined. They’re not the only ones who have noticed Jack’s gift; his music has awakened an ancient evil—and a world both above and below which may not be mythical at all. The real and the mystical; the romantic and the heartbreaking all begin to swirl together, carrying the two on journey that is both enthralling and terrifying.

And it’s up to the narrator to protect the people she loves—if she can.


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 How to Enter: 
Enter the giveaway using Rafflecopter. Hit the arrow buttons, follow the prompts, and hit the enter buttons when you're done. (You may have to log in using Facebook to do this). There will be one winner (selected by Rafflecopter). I will contact the winner via email. This contest is open to international entrants.

 

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