Q & A with YA author Courtney Summers

Hi Courtney! Thanks for stopping by to chat about the writing process and the upcoming release of your new novel, SADIE. 

Blog_Sadie_authorpicWhat was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your characters? Which of your characters do you most identify with, and why?

When I first started Sadie, I was extremely skeptical of West—he had to prove himself to readers over the course of his narrative and given the nature of his job, I was curious to see where writing him would take me. I really loved the way his arc unfolded. I wasn’t necessarily surprised by it, but more gratified by it than I realized I would be.

I identify with little pieces of all of my characters, but I like to keep those to myself because I don’t want risk readers thinking about me while they read. I like my role as an author to be invisible.

What gave you the idea for SADIE?

One of the things that inspired Sadie was the way we consume violence against women and girls as a form of entertainment. When we do that, we reduce its victims to objects, which suggests a level of disposability—that a girl’s pain is only valuable to us if we’re being entertained by it. But it’s not her responsibility to entertain us. What is our responsibility to us? I really wanted to explore that and the way we dismiss missing girls and what the cost of that ultimately is.

Blog_Sadie_coverpicWas this how you always envisioned the book or did it change as you wrote it?

Regina Spektor said something really interesting about writing songs that I’ve always loved and related to as an author. She said, “[A]s soon as you try and take a song from your mind into piano and voice and into the real world, something gets lost and it’s like a moment where, in that moment you forget how it was and it’s this new way. And then when you make a record, even those ideas that you had, then those get all turned and changed. So in the end, I think, it just becomes its own thing and really I think a song could be recorded a million different ways and so what my records are, it just happened like that, but it’s not like, this is how I planned it from the very beginning because I have no idea, I can’t remember.”

I feel something similar when writing—the heart of my idea remains intact, but the way it takes its ultimate form is always a little different (or even a lot different) than I might have been expecting, which makes it difficult to recall the starting point. But that’s okay as long as the heart is still there and you’re satisfied with and believe in what you’ve created.

Do you have a favorite scene, quote, or moment from Sadie?

My favorite moment is a spoiler, but my favorite quote is this: “I wish this was a love story.”

If you could tell your younger writing self-anything, what would it be?

I used to have an answer for this kind of question but the older I get, that’s changed. I wouldn’t tell her anything. Her experience as a writer unfolded the way it was supposed to and I like how it’s turning out.

About the Novel: Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

As the pages turn, your heart will be in your throat the whole way. SADIE is darkly delicious and addictive, the perfect fall read. As a major Editor’s Buzz Book Pick at BEA, Summers’ thriller will be the book to read this season, and in a creative twist, the first YA thriller podcast. THE GIRLS released the first episode on August 1st bringing SADIE to life in a new way by picking up the script content from the book and using the under-explored content area in the podcast area of teen listeners. Combining a haunting novel and additional material through the podcast, Summers has changed the way readers experienced books.

About the author: COURTNEY SUMMERS lives and writes in Canada. She is the author of What Goes Around, This is Not a Test, Fall for Anything, Some Girls Are, Cracked Up to Be, Please Remain Calm, and All the Rage.

Praise for SADIE: “SADIE is an electrifying, high-stakes road trip—a gripping thriller with a true—crime podcast edge. Clear your schedule. You’re not going anywhere until you’ve reached the end.”
—Stephanie Perkins, New York Times bestselling author of There’s Someone Inside Your House and Anna and the French Kiss

“A haunting, gut-wrenching, and relentlessly compelling read. SADIE grabs you and won’t let you go until you’ve borne witness.” —Veronica Roth, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Carve the Mark and The Divergent series

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