Meet Courtney Summers!

I'm thrilled to have a chance to interview the amazing Courtney Summers on MacLeanSpace! If you haven't had the chance to read the amazing CRACKED UP TO BE, run out and do so. Now. We'll wait.


When “Perfect” Parker Fadley starts drinking at school and failing her classes, all of St. Peter’s High goes on alert. How has the cheerleading captain, girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, consummate teacher’s pet, and future valedictorian fallen so far from grace?

Parker doesn’t want to talk about it. She’d just like to be left alone, to disappear, to be ignored. But her parents have placed her on suicide watch and her counselors are demanding the truth. Worse, there’s a nice guy falling in love with her and he’s making her feel things again when she’d really rather not be feeling anything at all.

Nobody would have guessed she’s turn out like this. But nobody knows the truth.

Something horrible has happened, and it just might be her fault.

I scrambled to Amazon to buy CRACKED UP TO BE after I saw its awesome book trailer...and boy did it deliver. I read it in one sitting...simply couldn't put it down. Parker is a fantastic character--beautifully written in her witticisms and confusion and self-exploration...and her past is perfectly doled out in little morsels that keep the pages and mind turning, until everything comes together in an explosion of wow.

Meet Courtney Summers

I'm always interested in the genesis novels...Where did CRACKED UP TO BE come from? Did you see Parker first? One of the other characters? Was it a seed of the plot that started it all? A line of dialogue? A location?

I knew I wanted to write a really abrasive, not-so-nice female main character and I knew I wanted to frame the novel around the question, "What's the worst thing you've ever done?" But there are a lot of things I know I want to write and there are lots of questions I frame ideas around and they don't necessarily become novels. So it wasn't until I jotted out the opening ("Imagine four years" etc) in a blank Word Document, sort of spur of the moment--but a really inspired moment--that I had Parker's voice and I had Cracked Up to Be. She was just really there. And then Chris followed with his inappropriate-for-school talk (oh, Chris), and the rest, as they say...

So many of us have felt that incredible pressure to be perfect--particularly when we're teenagers. It's such an all-consuming feeling that it is hard to imagine how any of us survive it. What's your advice for those of us who just can't seem to shake the demands to be perfect?

It can be very difficult. It's so easy to be your own worst enemy and the pressure we can project on ourselves is amazing. I think the most important thing is to have someone to talk to. A friend, a family member, a professional--just someone you can trust. It's crucial to have an outside voice to remind you of your options, to tell you it's going to be okay and to give you some perspective about your situation. When you're really overwhelmed, that's next to impossible to do on your own.

I blogged before about your awesome book trailer...which made me run out and pre-order the book. What's the trick to making a great book trailer?

Thank you! I'm glad (relieved?) the trailer did its job. :) I'm not really an expert, but in my opinion: sound and pacing are incredibly important when it comes to book trailers. I think the less time you use to say it, the better. Killer music can make a trailer and bad music can break it. Be visually engaging and creative. Don't be worried about being super-literal. Don't just talk about the book, tell a story and have fun, whatever you do!

CRACKED UP TO BE tackles the popular kids. Your next book is about mean girls. What is it about high school hierarchy that makes for such great fictional food?

I just find it absolutely compelling. When I was in school, I was constantly trying to make sense of it and now that I'm out of school, I still am. So much of being in high school is trying to figure out your place; where you fit in among your friends, where your friends fit in among your peers. You basically have an entire world, an entire society, inside this little building, just waiting to explode, for better and for worse. It's amazing. I love writing about it.

We're both big Ani DiFranco fans...what song of hers most inspires you?

Ooh, so many! Ani's fantastic. I don't know if I could narrow it down to just one. All of her songs inspire me in different ways... but I've always had such a soft spot for Marrow.

And, finally, Courtney Summers on...

High school cliques:
Cheerleaders or Band Geeks?
Neither! Can I chose neither? I chose the Inbetweeners. The people that don't raise eyebrows. I was totally one of those.

Plaid Skirts or Khaki Pants?
Oh, God. I hated them both. At my school, you had to wear shorts under the kilts because people would just randomly kilt you all the time (they would flip up your skirt and help you flash your classmates--lovely!), but on the other hand, khaki pants are khaki pants. I hate to chose 'neither' again, but yucck.

Night of the Living Dead or Omega Man?
Night of the Living Dead! Night of the Living Dead, totally. Actually, I haven't seen Omega Man, shamefully, but I feel like if I did, I would probably still choose Night of the Living Dead. I have a fierce loyalty to that movie and George Romero.

On volcanoes:
Mauna Loa or Vesuvius?
Mauna Loa gets definite props, but I'm for Vesuvius all the way. It's incredible. I loved the docudrama they had on the Discovery Channel, Pompeii: The Last Day. I became a big Vesuvius fangirl the first time I saw that. I used to be afraid of volcanoes, but when I saw that, I realized they were not only to be feared--but respected! And admired!

On Survivor:
Eating bugs or Starting a fire without matches?
Starting a fire without matches. But I am sure I could get hungry enough to eat a bug. I might be hungry enough to do that now, actually...

Thanks so much for coming over to play, Courtney!

For everyone else...find Courtney at her website. I also think she'd appreciate you ordering Cracked Up to Be on Amazon.