Woohoo happy Friday guys! Here it is – my first author interview! Thank you so much Cori for being an awesome human and agreeing to answering these questions for me. For those of you who don’t know Cori published a book this year titled You Were Here. I had the pleasure of reading this early through my job. She also published Breaking Sky which is now in paperback from SourceBooks.
Wondering who this Cori lady is? Here’s her official bio:
Cori McCarthy started writing when she was thirteen. She earned a BA in Creative Writing from Ohio University, focusing in memoir writing and poetry. After graduation she completed UCLA’s Professional Program in Screenwriting and served as an AmeriCorps volunteer in Appalachian Ohio. In 2011, she earned an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts.
In geographical history, Cori was born on Guam, grew up in New England and the Midwest, studied abroad in Ireland, and now lives in Michigan. She’s traveled everywhere from Scotland to St. Petersburg, Albania to Montenegro. Like her hero Walt Whitman, her favorite city on the planet is Washington, D.C., and her favorite off-planet city is Entra.
Cori is the author of several YA books. Kirkus called her debut novel, THE COLOR OF RAIN, “[an] elegantly written and emotionally cathartic page-turner.” Her second novel, BREAKING SKY, received starred reviews fromSchool Library Journal and the Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Books and is currently in development to become a film by Sony Pictures. Kirkusreviewed it as “smart, exciting, confident–and quite possibly the next Big Thing.” Her third book, YOU WERE HERE, is a contemporary mixed media novel that earned a starred review from the Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Books and was hailed a VOYA Best Book.
Cori’s novel in verse, Name Me America, won the Middle Grade category for the 2014 Katherine Paterson Prize. Cori is also the co-founder of Rainbow Boxes, a charitable initiative aiming to bring LGBTQIA fiction to community libraries and GSAs across America. Tweet@RainbowBoxesYA or watch a three minute commercial for the initiative.
I had the pleasure of meeting Cori at a signing near me and we had a wonderful time! To read more about that click here.
Now for the real interview:
Sophie: Hi, Cori! So glad to chat with you! Tell us something we can’t find in your author bio.
Cori McCarthy: I like to cook! Wait, that’s not terribly interesting. I play guitar and write really bad songs. The first really bad song I wrote was in college—it was about Hobbits. I started to play guitar because I kept dating guitarists who were not good boyfriends, so I dropped them and taught myself to play.
S: Your recent release You Were Here is dedicated to someone special. Could you say who and why?
CM: You Were Here is dedicated to my friend and classmate, Matt. Matt passed away suddenly two days before the last day of Eighth Grade. I was stunned and shocked and saddened at the time, but it wasn’t until years later that I started to really process his absence. You Were Here is about this very same latent grief that I struggled with, and dedicating this story to Matt was really cathartic…even twenty years later.
S: What inspired Jaycee, Natalie, Mik, Bishop, and Zach’s stories to be written?
CM: Oh, they’re all different parts of me! At one point, my friend and I jokingly referred to You Were Here as “A Tale of 5 Coris.” Here’s a brief rundown on how I am (or was) a little like each character:
Jaycee—I have a B.A. in Sarcasm, minor in Snark.
Natalie—I have often struggled with micromanaging my own life. I have also struggled
with depression, anxiety, and OCD throughout my life.
Mik—I wear all black. A lot.
Bishop—I draw and write poetry. Bishop’s poems were actually initially drawn by me, and then the great people at Sourcebooks had the illustrator, Sonia Liao, make them much more professional looking. I’ll attach a side-by- side image for you!
Zach—Oh, I have never been okay with growing up. For awhile in my younger life, I thought that alcohol might keep me young. It did not work. It actually aged me sneakily, and maybe every about-to- go-to-college grad should know that. Alcohol makes you feel older and act younger, but in all truth, it ages your mind in a very sad, irreversible way. For this reason, Zach was the hardest to write and definitely the saddest of the sad sacks in this misfit crew.
S: After reading the book the different media used to tell each characters’ story makes so much sense. How did you come up with that idea?
CM:It all started with Mik. I was working on Jaycee, Natalie, and Zach’s prose sections, and I sat down to capture Mik. I knew that he was a selective mute with a sort of dark beauty to him, but I didn’t know what his thoughts sounded like. I tried to write him out and failed. Mik didn’t have words inside of him. He had images. So I wrote a script for his sections. Dialogue and action; that’s it. The illustrator brought him to life, and I’m so very proud of Sonia’s work here. In truth, the multi-media was not something that I set out to. It came through the story,from the characters. I have been thinking about doing another story styled this way, but I don’t think it’ll ever be like this one.
S: Which character do you relate to the most?
CM: I related to all of them in different ways. I think more than the characters, I related to the situations. Like Jaycee and Natalie, I once experienced a huge rift in a friendship that I could neither comprehend nor easily fix. That was very hard to write.
S: Who was the hardest to write?
CM: Oops, I think I already answered this one above
S: Okay steering away from You Were Here, your second novel Breaking Sky was optioned for film. Who would be your dream cast?
CM: Oh, I love this question. In an ideal world, Chase would be played by Hailee Steinfeld who I LOVED in Ender’s Game and True Grit. I would also love Asa Butterfield for Pippin. I have never been able to find an actor for Tristan, the love interest. But I’d love for Crackers (the psychiatrist) to be played by Kristin Bell, and for Brigadier General Kale to be played by David Boreanaz.
S: Of the two books can you say you like writing one more than the other?
CM: I liked writing Breaking Sky more because it has more jokes—more campy fun. You Were Here was cathartic to write, but it also sort of broke my heart over and over. I’d be sitting there writing, a sad, sad expression on my face, and my writing partner would look over and say, “Did you hurt your own feelings again?” And I’d say, “Yeah…”
S: How do you come up with such kick ass females?
CM: I always try to write the girls who inspired me. Chase in Breaking Sky was inspired by Starbuck in the Battlestar Galactica reboot. Jaycee was the “say anything never care about the consequences” girl that I wanted to be when I was younger. (I had too much inner cautious Natalie to really be a Jaycee.)
S: Alright we’ll wrap it up a bit here now. Do you have any upcoming appearances where people can meet you in the flesh?
CM: Oh, I do!
May 19 th Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor, 7pm
(Link to that here) https://www.facebook.com/events/1161062693925432/
May 20 th B&N Rochester Hills, 7pm YA panel and young writers raffle
I’ll also be participating at the Barnes and Noble Teen Weekend of June 10 & 11
June 10 th B&N in Rochester Hills, 7pm
June 11 th at B&N in Grand Rapids, 12 pm
S: Any lingering comments you’d like to add?
CM: Just that it was GREAT to meet you a few weeks ago! I hope we see each other again soon!
Thanks, Cori! It was a pleasure to meet and chat with you! Thank you for taking the time to answer all my questions 🙂
Remember Cori talking about how she put parts of You Were Here together? Well, because she’s so lovely she’s sharing some exclusive content on her drafting!
On the left is Cori’s own drawing of one of Bishop’s pieces in the novel. On the right is the illustrator’s own interpretation of Cori’s work.
Want a copy of You Were Here? Buy from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local bookstore. Or did you want Breaking Sky? Her are links to it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or you could support your local bookstore.
I hope you enjoyed Cori’s interview as much as I did! I will be keeping you updated on her writing and what’s coming from her in the future. You should definitely go check out her two books now! I love, love, love You Were Here and she’s a wonderful author.