Sunday, July 25, 2010

Outlaw Boots, pair #1: Courtney Summers

BACKSTORY: I've been looking for a way to feature writers/writerly peeps on my blog, because part of blogging is returning the blog love. So--Outlaw Boots. Now I'm sure you're asking, because you are discerning blog friends: what the hell? What are Outlaw Boots?

BEHIND THE BACKSTORY: I love writing YA because of outsiders--almost every protagonist believes s/he's an outsider, in whatever way. That I-don't-belong sensibility is near and dear to my heart, partly because I've felt that way as long as I've been able to think about myself.

Then, at some point, "outsider" got translated to "outlaw." This correlation isn't exact--some outsiders aren't traditional outlaws, but there are still take-charge, let-me-mess-with-you elements to outsiders, too. I see outsiders as the key element of the basic YA "formula": outsider/outlaw makes crazy stuff happen, and hilarity may or may not ensue, then we discover all the vulnerability *underneath* the outsider/outlaw posturing, and oh man, perfect setup for a story. I love my genre!

OK, so, with that loooong introduction, I give you the first set of Outlaw Boots, worn by Courtney Summers. Courtney is the author of CRACKED UP TO BE, SOME GIRLS ARE, and FALL FOR ANYTHING (out in December), all from St. Martin's Press.

Edited to add: I didn't even tell you what her books are about! Basically: high school girls behaving badly, mostly to each other. For example, from the CRACKED UP TO BE blurb: "Perfect Parker Fadley isn’t so perfect anymore." Hmmm . . . interesting! Or, from the blurb of SOME GIRLS ARE, "Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard–falling from it is even harder." Provocative! All you need to know: read them.

Full disclosure: Courtney is an agent sibling. But even if she wasn't, I would still love her, because 1) she's sparkly, but not in a vampire-y way; 2) she's funny, smart, and talented; 3) she's Canadian, which seems rather outlaw and outsider to begin with; and 4) I loved loved loved CRACKED UP TO BE.

There are questions (dun dun dunnnn!) for those who wear Outlaw Boots, and these are Courtney's answers:

Who's your most outlaw character (in any book)--why?

Definitely Parker, because of her determination to go against the grain.

Are you an outlaw too? How do you know?

Maybe! I refuse to compromise a lot. I don't know if that makes me an outlaw so much as a jerk, though.

What kind of shoes does your outlaw wear (you or your character--maybe outlaw boots?)?

A kick-ass pair of flowery slippers.

Pirate, ninja, nerd, other outlaw title for you/your character:

I always go with ninja. Because Ninjas are cool.

Best thing about being an outlaw:
Not answering to anybody.

Favorite outlaw food:
Zucchini fries! Wait. That's food that should be outlawed. ;)

Favorite outlaw role model/why:

Pierre Trudeau! He was a bit of an outlaw as far as Canadian PMs go. He didn't take no guff!

Image of kick-ass flowery slippers stolen from here. Courtney also moonlights as Pele, the volcano goddess, because she hearts volcanoes. When she is not sparkly, she looks like this:

Thank you, Courtney, for wearing the first pair of Outlaw Boots!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Confession: I am not good at maintenance.

This confession applies to many things. For example, I don't scrub out the fridge except in the summer. I just did it today, which is why I'm thinking about maintenance. I cleaned my oven two years ago ONLY because I won cook-for-me chefs in a charity auction. Laundry is OK, but dusting is horrible. I get pissed when I have to shave my legs (TMI, but it falls under this category) and color my hair. I don't vacuum my car. I also don't do so hot at publicity, which is really maintenance of one's writing career.

Maintenance ALSO implies that you own it/you bought it/you're responsible for it. Oh come on, can't I be irresponsible? For a supporting argument,please see this post. Clean ALL the things???


Some of my maintenance crabbiness is really just laziness. Some is skepticism (who sees the inside of a fridge?) and some is futility (I'll just have to get highlights AGAIN?? WOE IS ME!) Some is self-preservation (dear child, can you fix your own lunch SO I CAN WRITE AND GET THESE PEOPLE OUT OF MY HEAD???).

On the upside, usually I am good at maintaining relationships. I write, I call, I e-mail, I FB (I don't Twitter much). I kiss my kid and husband good night every night, and I pay attention to them (except at lunch). I call my mom. All that other stuff is just that--STUFF. Step off, stuff.

I realize it does matter--people accept me better if I shave my legs. People will see me if I blog/Twitter/have a web presence (my publicist will like me better).

But please, oh please . . . don't make me maintain anything else today. The fridge was enough.

(Full disclosure: my lack of desire to maintain stuff frustrates the shit out of my husband. He is good at maintenance, and is an ace at housework.)

Monday, July 12, 2010


Do you know the play FENCES? I teach it in my Intro to Lit class, and it just closed on Broadway (three Tonys, including one for Denzel). Awesome play. An African-American play, but a universal play. The main character, Troy, never gets his fence finished. He needs to protect his heart, his family, his territory--but what is he also keeping out?

I am thinking about this because we just finished discussing FENCES, but also because I read this fantastic blog post and its comments, all about inclusion and exclusion in children's literature, and it directly relates to books 1 through 3 of my repertoire. So directly I blushed.

So here's a request: what about gates in the fences? Or maybe a big ol' pasture with little fenced-off spaces inside it? Places to mix and mingle, but still with some protection for those who feel the need? I'm not discounting the need, either--I have no idea what it means to have to protect yourself to survive, and I have no right to refute that feeling. But man, I'm here, outside your fence, trying to say hello because I like you and want to get to know you. Yes, I know. Privilege. I don't have to have a fence. But I mean it: I like you and I want to get to know you. You can give me the finger, and you have every right. But I really don't want to walk away.

Thanks to Malinda Lo for showing me Arthur Levine's blog (he's the man who brought Harry Potter to America, I could kiss your shoes, dude).