HEADS UP! HERE’S YOUR CHANCE TO WIN AN ADVANCED COPY OF NOGGIN BEFORE IT HITS STORES THIS APRIL!!!!!!
CARRIE MESROBIAN, author of Sex and Violence (Carolrhoda LAB)
The lowdown on Sex and Violence:
At first you don’t see the connection. Sex has always come without consequences for seventeen-year-old Evan Carter. He has a strategy—knows the profile of The Girl Who Would Say Yes. In each new town, each new school, he can count on plenty of action before he and his father move again. Getting down is never a problem. Until he hooks up with the wrong girl and finds himself in the wrong place at very much the wrong time.
And then you can’t see anything else. After an assault that leaves Evan bleeding and broken, his father takes him to the family cabin in rural Pearl Lake, Minnesota, so Evan’s body can heal. But what about his mind?
How do you go on, when you can’t think of one without the other? Nothing seems natural to Evan anymore. Nothing seems safe. The fear—and the guilt—are inescapable. He can’t sort out how he feels about anyone, least of all himself. Evan’s never really known another person well, and Pearl Lake is the kind of place where people know everything about each other—where there might be other reasons to talk to a girl. It’s all annoying as hell. It might also be Evan’s best shot to untangle sex and violence.
BUY Sex and Violence here: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781467705974
Converse with her fake boyfriends here: http://conversationswithmyfakeboyfriend.tumblr.com
Because the William C. Morris YA Debut Award and I have a past, I had the great pleasure of speaking with Carrie Mesrobian about her debut novel, a finalist for this year’s award and a beautiful novel that has garnered much acclaim and multiple starred reviews.
This is what happened:
1.) We all know that Sex and Violence is your debut novel, but was it the first novel you’d ever written? How would you describe the experience of writing it? (Do you feel it came naturally to you, or did you struggle/were you accustomed to other types of writing?).
Writing S&V was very intense but mostly very enjoyable. It kind of gushed out, as if I’d been restraining Evan and not letting him talk. But he was so much fun to write.
S&V is not the first novel I’ve ever tried to write. I have several failed or unfinished novels. The year I wrote S&V, I was trying to write a mystery novel. Do you know how hard it is to write those things? You have to be all deceptive and stuff! I’m terrible at that.
2.) What is it about coming-of-age stories that intrigues you? Do you think you’ll always be interested in this kind of story, in one way or another?
While I think there’s a case to be made for me still dealing with a lot of crap from my adolescence that I probably should be over by now, I mostly like YA because it’s got nothing to do with my current life, which I enjoy living, certainly, but which involves problems that are very boring to contemplate: motherhood, marriage, mortgage.
I don’t know if I’ll always want to write YA, but I’ll tell you that I find most notions of being ‘grown-up’ or ‘adult’ supremely boring and uncomfortable. This is why I had to quit teaching high school. I felt like a total fraud and a terrible role model and was sure that any second the authorities would discover I didn’t know what the hell I was talking about. I still feel this way about most areas of my life, for some reason.
3.) You’ve spoken in other interviews about the misconceptions that many people have concerning the use of medications and therapy to treat mental illness (PTSD, Anxiety disorders, etc.). How important is it to you that your work, and perhaps the works of others in the YA community, offers teenagers an honest, all-sides perspective to this issue? Do you think medications and therapy are too easily used as storytelling devices and not given fair treatment in some works of fiction? Are you wicked pissed off about it?
It’s very important to me that people understand mental illness better. I’m annoyed with stereotypes about depression, suicidality, anxiety, medication, therapy. It astounds me that people do not understand mental illness and mood disorders when you consider that almost everyone has one or knows someone who has one. And that really, most of these illnesses are pretty simple to treat if you bother to treat them and deal with them. It’s when you pretend they don’t exist that they become extremely problematical and complicated.
I’m pretty intent on banging on about medication’s role in treating some mental illnesses because people don’t realize that therapy costs a lot of money. It’s not often covered by insurance. It’s also goal-oriented; insurance companies want you to be done in so many sessions. And therapy isn’t magic. If the person doesn’t want to be there and learn how to help himself or herself, then it’s largely useless. Mental illness, though it’s often manifested through behavior, often has a biological component. That’s why medication is so important to me to acknowledge. I have tried to live w/o medication for my anxiety and it doesn’t work. Even when my life is relatively stable and things are going great, my body still finds a way to short out and panic over nothing. So when people say I need to examine my source problems instead of taking pills, yes, I get pissed. My source problem is my serotonin acts all wonky. I don’t need to write in my courage journal more; if processing my thoughts about my childhood and whatever was the cure, I should have been cured by now, you know?
4.) Since its release, your novel has been met with much critical acclaim. Can you speak a bit about how it feels to be recognized so publicly for something like writing, which is, in my opinion, such a personal, private thing?
It feels weird, but it’s nice. I feel focused on other projects, so my response to people reading S&V is now is like, “Oh, THAT. Right. That’s such old news, you guys.” I’m more in love with the newer things I’m doing. People liking S&V is like someone looking at pictures of my ex-boyfriend and saying, “Wow, he’s cute!” Maybe it’s true, but I’ve moved on, you know?
(That sounds dickish. I don’t mean to sound dickish.)
5.) Lightning Round: Answer in as few or many words as you like. Who needs rules?
-Is there a particular question about Sex and Violence that no one has asked you that you’d really like to answer?
People really don’t talk about the Beauchant brothers enough. They are my favorite characters for so many reasons. I love Tim Beauchant a lot. I think he needs his own book.
-What’s your favorite song? Can you sing it well?
I won’t even say my favorite because you will be so grossed out and then make fun of me on Twitter! I’m a terrible singer, though, and would never sing it at all.
-If you could have written anyone else’s book, which book would it be and why?
That’s kind of a horrible question. It makes me feel like I’m hijacking someone else’s business! It feels like terrible manners! John Corey Whaley, how could you ask such a thing!
Okay, maybe what you want to know is what book that I really admire. So, here. A book that pleases me, over and over, is Eireann Corrigan’s Ordinary Ghosts. I couldn’t have written it but it’s just so brilliant and funny and beautiful.
-You frequently have conversations with your Fake Boyfriends on your tumblr page. So, I must ask you, why haven’t I been on there? Do you think you’re better than me? Is it my hair?
I hate to be the one to tell you this, Corey. But you, sweetheart, are Real. I have met you in reality. You made jokes about how sweaty you were, remember? You are a Real Person and I wouldn’t want you to think that I’m putting creepy words in your mouth. It’s really your personal space and dignity I’m thinking of, not a comment on your looks. Because you, as well as your hair, are absolutely spectacular.
As are you, Carrie. As are you.
Just three more weeks until our Skype chat with John Corey Whaley! We’ve prepared a handy* guide to Where Things Come Back, in case you haven’t read it.
*And tongue-in-cheeky. Full disclosure: we absolutely adore this book. We promise, we’re not poking fun at it. It is 100% worth your time.
(Booklist, November 2013, *STARRED REVIEW)
So there’s this book. It’s a very special book—one about a kid who’s a little bit lost and all the people who help her find her way. It will break your heart and then slowly and magically put it back together again—only it’ll be a little better this time. Buy it. Check it out from your local library. Read it and fall in love with words all over again.
Shop indie if you can. http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780803738553
"Where Things Come Back" Imaginary Movie Poster
This is too cool. TOO COOL.