sarahmccarry is the author of the critically acclaimed YA novels, ALL OUR PRETTY SONGS (which was the inaugural Headcrab Recs YA pick) and its forthcoming sequel (out July 15th, 2014), DIRTY WINGS. Kirkus has called her work, “Haunting, otherworldly and heartbreaking,” and “breathtaking” and believe me THEY ARE RIGHT. Sarah’s work pulls no punches. None. You want to talk about complex, visceral, amazing female protagonists and the kind of stories that haunt your dreams because they’re so fucking good? Look no further. To read more about her books, visit her website.
To celebrate the upcoming release of DIRTY WINGS (and YES THIS INVOLVES A GIVEAWAY, details after the interview), Sarah agreed to sit down and answer an aggressive set of questions.
Why do your books have GIRLS in them. Please tell me what kind of thought process was behind that decision. Was this to add to the magical realism? We all know stories about girls aren’t “real.”
SARAH: I know! It’s so embarrassing. It’s like every time I sit down to write, I’m all like, “No, THIS time, I’m going to write a REAL story about BOYS doing BOYS’ THINGS.” Finding themselves and crushing out on girls and being straight and manly and stuff. Like an emotional (but obviously not TOO emotional) journey of self-discovery and coming of age with poignant moments of bittersweet, wrenching humor and maybe cancer—you know, something really universal and relatable that brings Americans together around our shared common values. But when I start writing, I get possessed by these overwhelming urges to write about experiences that are actually interesting to me, and I do that instead! It’s a terrible problem to have.
Aurora inspires a lot of devotion to the unnamed narrator of ALL OUR PRETTY SONGS but Aurora can be selfish. Let’s talk about that. Don’t you think you should have made her (and all of your characters, but especially the girls) more LIKABLE?
Courtney, I’m telling you, these girls started out super nice. They never made bad decisions, they wore clean dresses and brushed their hair, they used their inside voices. And then while I was working on this book, the WORST IMAGINABLE thing happened—it was like this inner voice was shouting at me, “Sarah, make your characters PEOPLE! Make them SEEM LIKE PEOPLE!” That was when everything went to shit.
There are drugs and also there is cursing in your work. Doesn’t seem to me you were thinking of the children. Why weren’t you thinking of the children?
I meant to think of the children! I’m easily distracted. Sorry, what were you saying?
The MPAA would probably rate your books R. What do you have to say for yourself?
I know!!! It’s terrible!!! Just think what they would rate my life. I would totally just die!!!!!!
Your writing style is gritty and unflinching. But isn’t life gritty and unflinching ENOUGH? Why not make your work a kinder, gentler experience for readers?
I was trying to make my books more like Game of Thrones. I’m told that helps sales.
Your work has been described as edgy and sharp, which sounds unsafe for readers. If someone were to read your work in spite of this warning, please list some of its potential emotional side effects.
TOTAL DEVASTATION. I have also been told it inspires people to slouch, dress in a slovenly manner, and listen to loud music, so consider yourselves warned. Dirty Wings may also cause you to, in no particular order: defy your parents, quit your job, run away from home, start a rock band, kiss girls, and do a lot of speed. I mean, hopefully not, but I would want readers to be prepared.
ALL OUR PRETTY SONGS was endorsed by a headcrab. That’s disgraceful. That’s not a question, I just wanted you to know.
I guess it could have been a louse.
You guys, I adore this woman and I adore her work and I want you to have it. That means…
GIVEAWAY! This giveaway is open to US & CAN only (sorry!). I am giving away TWO SETS of ALL OUR PRETTY SONGS and DIRTY WINGS to TWO WINNERS. To enter, all you have to do is:
1) Like or reblog this interview or
2) Retweet my tweet (https://twitter.com/courtney_s/status/485207053183758336) of this interview!
Super easy, RIGHT? Liking and reblogging = 2 entries (1 each), tweeting = 1, so you can enter up to 3 times total! Winners will be randomly drawn and contacted on July 15th, and have their prizes shipped out to them immediately!