Interview With Courtney Summers Regarding her YA Novel, Cracked Up To Be

Today we have the privilege of speaking with Courtney Summers, author of the upcoming YA novel CRACKED UP TO BE and blogger extraordinaire. Courtney’s debut novel takes a familiar concept and turns it upside down. Here’s the blurb from Publishers Marketplace:

Courtney Summers's CRACKED UP TO BE, in which the popular girl decides to quit being popular and find herself but her friends work hard to stop her making "a big mistake," to Sara Goodman at St. Martin's, by Amy Tipton at FinePrint Literary Management (World English)

DH: Welcome to the blog, Courtney, and big-time congratulations with balloons and chocolate cake! Your blog post on the sale was full of excitement and humility (and I love your grandma!). But there’s so much more we want to know. Let’s get started!

How did you get the idea for CRACKED UP TO BE?

Courtney: Thank you so much! I'm really excited about all of this, but I have to disclaimer my answers by letting your readers know I've never been interviewed before. :)

I got the idea for CRACKED UP TO BE by asking myself a lot of questions about identity and perceptions. I was really interested in writing a character that struggled with and bucked the expectations projected on her based on where she fell on the social ladder. After that came all the fun of figuring out why she was struggling and why she wanted to buck them . . . so that's how it all started!

DH: I love your spin on the popularity issue. Your main character is intriguing. What’s her name and how did you come up with it?

Courtney: Her name is Parker. It came to me like snap, which was really lucky as it doesn't usually happen for me that way--and it probably never will again! I'm used to searching through name after name after name, waiting to feel a “click.” That can sometimes take hours. Or days.

DH: Yes, and when you’ve hit upon the right element, you just know it. Speaking of elements, you live in Canada; where is your story set and how did you choose that setting?

Courtney: The story is set in a fictional town in America--it just seemed to fit. I must admit that settings are usually pretty static in my novels anyway, as opposed to novels where they play a larger role. Once I've established where everything's happening, it's like, "Okay! Moving on..."

DH: How much of yourself is in your characters?

Courtney: Very little, I think. I hope! I have fun trying to shape characters that are as far removed from me as possible for a variety of reasons, the most important being that I'm tragically boring. I also love trying to understand the motivations of a person that, in real life, I might not understand (or want to).

DH: I like that concept. It reminds me of watching people in the mall or on the street and making up histories for them. You must get ideas all the time. How do you latch onto an executable story?

Courtney: I wish I knew! Every idea that turns into a novel is sometimes preceded by several that . . . don't. It drives me crazy! I'll get 50 pages into something that'll fall to pieces spectacularly and I'll be like, cries. I never see it coming until it happens, either. So I spend a lot of time writing with one hand and crossing my fingers with the other. Sometimes I write desperate letters to my ideas:
Dear idea,
PLEASE become a fully realized novel.
Love, Courtney

DH: It’s so hard when an idea or a full-fledged story doesn’t work out! But once you have locked onto an idea, what is your writing process?

To view this interview in its entirety, click here.


Mike Hardin said...
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Ello said...

Great interview! I went over and read yours too! I love to read these stories - they are very inspiring. And I am so happy for you!

Danette Haworth said...

Thanks, Ello!