Kyra: Interview with Courtney Summers

Courtney Summers newest novel SOME GIRLS ARE was released just a couple of days ago. It’s already getting terrific reviews and we are excited to see what’s going to happen with her work. Courtney knows the YA voice and she doesn’t shy away from the tough story either. If you don’t believe me read her first book CRACKED UP TO BE.

Both titles are published by St. Martin’s Griffin. I have to tell you, I like Courtney’s writing so much I’ve already started asking her to have the author out to one of the conferences Mom runs. Okay Mom? Mom?

To start off, where are you from?

I’m from a small town in Ontario, Canada.

When did you know that you were going to be a writer? How long have you been writing?

I’ve always written, but I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer for serious until I was about eighteen. Up until that point, I was interested in telling stories and pursued all different kinds of mediums that enabled me to do that–photography, acting, music etc. It wasn’t until I sat down and wrote my first novel that I realized, “Oh! This is totally how I’m supposed to be doing this.”

What do you think is the hardest thing about writing? What is the easiest?

Writing is definitely the hardest part of writing. The easiest? Having an idea. Having an idea is pretty practically painless. It’s the development and execution of an idea proves challenging every time. 🙂

What made you decide to write Cracked Up To Be? Some Girls Are?

I wrote Cracked Up to Be because I was really interested in writing a novel with an abrasive, mean female main character. I wanted people to root for, or be willing to follow a girl who wasn’t very nice. I wrote Some Girls Are because girl-bullying fascinates me. In school, I was bullied by girls and bullied other girls and those experiences left me with many questions. Some Girls Are was my way of exploring those questions.

What are your top three books you read in 2009? Why did you choose these books?

I read A LOT of great books this year. Quite a few of them are coming out in 2010 and aren’t available yet (The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney, All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab, The Line by Teri Hall). For my top three, I’m going to pick books that came out 2009 (but everyone should totally check out the aforementioned unreleased books when they come out!):

ONE LONELY DEGREE by C.K. Kelly Martin was my favourite YA novel of 2009. I so related to Finn in a way that I relate to few female protagonists. C.K. Kelly Martin’s writing is flawless and honest and every time I read the stuff she writes, I come away inspired. I’m so looking forward to her future releases.

DANI NOIR by Nova Ren Suma–this book is so full of life and voice! It’s a tween mystery and the whole time I read it, I wished it had been around when I was Dani’s age because I would have loved it then as I do now. Nova has this incredible pull in all that she writes. She’s a real talent, and I’m dying for her forthcoming YA release, Imaginary Girls, due out 2011.

BEAUTIFUL by Amy Reed. A lot of people have suggested this book is the new Go Ask Alice and I agree in the sense that I think it will reach lots and lots of people, help girls and educate their parents, raise awareness and offer a great launching point for discussion… but this is a million times more powerful and better than Go Ask Alice. I adored this book. It was gritty and raw and hard to read.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?

Planning for the impending zombie apocalypse!

If you could have lunch with any author {past or present} who would it be?

I know some marvelous authors and would love to have lunch with them. And one day I WILL, but if I had to pick anyone, and it was somehow possible… Robert Cormier. Definitely. The man was a genius.

You write about a lot of mean girls. Did you hang out with them when you were in high school? Or were you on the receiving end of the mean girls?

I had a lot of mean girl experiences in middle school. I hung out with them and was cruel with them and was also on the receiving end of their cruelty. By the time I got to high school, I sort of checked out from the social scene and fell into a group of people who were more on the outside. My encounters with mean girls there were fewer and far between, thanks to that, but they still happened.

Your books are really edgy. Have you had any problems with people trying to ban them or keep them out of libraries or schools? Do you ever question if you are pushing anything too far?

So far, I haven’t had any problems in that regard (fingers-crossed!). Honestly, one of my favourite things about being a reader was being pushed by the book I was reading. I loved books like that (and that’s why I love Robert Cormier’s work). So that’s how I approach my writing–I want to push things as much as I can.

What are you working on right now?

I’m hard at work on my next YA novel. I don’t want to give too much away as it’s still very much a work-in-progress but it feels like one of the darkest and saddest things I’ve written. And because it’s a WIP, that could be subject to change.

What’s your best piece of writing advice to other writers?

Not to let anyone talk you out of it. Writing is not often seen as a practical pursuit and I know lots of people who have been discouraged just because of this, no matter how much they love to do it, no matter how determined they are. If writing is what you love to do, if what you’re meant to do–don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.

What kind of music do you like? And what instrument(s) do you play?

I love all sorts of music! Pop deliciousness like Lady Gaga. Movie scores. I’m a sucker for a sad-sounding acoustic guitar. I play the piano and I just love it. It is such a beautiful instrument. I also kind of play the autoharp. And by play, I mean strum. Autoharps are AWESOME.


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6 responses to “Kyra: Interview with Courtney Summers

  1. Way to work the magic, Kyra. I’ve been very impressed with what you’ve done on here.
    It seems there is such an interest and desire to learn from others among writers.
    What bits of her life she has shared intriques me.

    Be sure to let Courtney know that I’ve already been building a metal fortress around my house so she can come hang when the zombies invade.

  2. Did I put a Q instead of a G on the word intrigues? Yes. Yes I did. Spell much?

  3. Carol

    I am getting all my guts up to read SOME GIRLS ARE.
    I’m scared.
    When reading Courtney’s novel (and hearing about this 2nd one) I understand completely why her hero is Cormier. Don’t look away–stare straight into the fire. Yes, it hurts.
    She’s tough.

  4. I must say I love this learning from other writers. These interviews are great. Another thing I love about this is that I am getting to know authors I didn’t even know existed. (I know I’m a bad writer because I really don’t read enough!) Keep these awesome writers and book reviews coming!

  5. Great interview! I adore Courtney and both her novels are brilliant!


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