Sadie by Courtney Summers (Book Excerpt and Q & A)

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SADIE
**On Sale September 4, 2018**

 

About The Book:

Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

As the pages turn, your heart will be in your throat the whole way. SADIE is darkly delicious and addictive, the perfect fall read.


About the Author:

COURTNEY SUMMERS lives and writes in Canada. She is the author of What Goes Around, This is Not a Test, Fall for Anything, Some Girls Are, Cracked Up to Be, Please Remain Calm, and All the Rage.

Courtney Summers is already known for her well written and dark young adult novels, earning rave starred trade reviews on every book. With a fierce and independent female lead, SADIE (September 4, 2018; Wednesday Books) continues in this vein told in part as a podcast, similar to Serial, about a missing girl determined to avenge her sister’s death. A propulsive and harrowing read that will keep you riveted until the last page, Courtney Summers has written the breakout book of her career.

Author Q&A:

1. Did you experience more difficulty writing one or the other, or did you like writing in one form more? How much of the novel did you write in chronological order, and how much did you jump around?

I enjoyed both of them. Writing Sadie’s perspective was very familiar to me because all of my books feature an intensely close first person, female point-of-view. Writing West’s perspective, the podcast format, proved a little more challenging. Not so much because of the way it was written (scripts) but because each episode had to propel Sadie’s narrative forward and give us a different way of looking at the things she went through.

So far, I’ve only ever been able to write in chronological order!

2. Was this how you always envisioned the book or did it change as you wrote it?

Regina Spektor said something really interesting about writing songs that I’ve always loved and related to as an author. She said, “As soon as you try and take a song from your mind into piano and voice and into the real world, something gets lost and it’s like a moment where, in that moment you forget how it was and it’s this new way. And then when you make a record, even those ideas that you had, then those get all turned and changed. So in the end, I think, it just becomes its own thing and really I think a song could be recorded a million different ways and so what my records are, it just happened like that, but it’s not like, this is how I planned it from the very beginning because I have no idea, I can’t remember.”

I feel something similar when writing—the heart of my idea remains intact, but the way it takes its ultimate form is always a little different (or even a lot different) than I might have been expecting, which makes it difficult to recall the starting point. But that’s okay as long as the heart is still there and you’re satisfied with and believe in what you’ve created.

3. What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your characters? Which of your characters do you most identify with, and why?

When I first started Sadie, I was extremely skeptical of West—he had to prove himself to readers over the course of his narrative and given the nature of his job, I was curious to see where writing him would take me. I really loved the way his arc unfolded. I wasn’t necessarily surprised by it, but more gratified by it than I realized I would be.

I identify with little pieces of all of my characters, but I like to keep those to myself because I don’t want risk readers thinking about me while they read. I like my role as an author to be invisible.


4. What gave you the idea for SADIE?

One of the things that inspired Sadie was the way we consume violence against women and girls as a form of entertainment. When we do that, we reduce its victims to objects, which suggests a level of disposability—that a girl’s pain is only valuable to us if we’re being entertained by it. But it’s not her responsibility to entertain us. What is our responsibility to us? I really wanted to explore that and the way we dismiss missing girls and what the cost of that ultimately is.

5. Do you have a favorite scene, quote, or moment from Sadie?

My favorite moment is a spoiler, but my favorite quote is this: “I wish this was a love story.”

6. If you could tell your younger writing self-anything, what would it be?

I used to have an answer for this kind of question but the older I get, that’s changed. I wouldn’t tell her anything. Her experience as a writer unfolded the way it was supposed to and I like how it’s turning out.

 

Book Excerpt:

THE GIRLS
EPISODE

[THE GIRLS THEME]

WEST McCRAY:

Welcome to Cold Creek, Colorado. Population: eight hundred.

Do a Google Image search and you’ll see its main street, the barely beating heart of that tiny world, and find every other building vacant or boarded up. Cold Creek’s luckiest—the gainfully employed—work at the local grocery store, the gas station and a few other staple businesses along the strip. The rest have to look a town or two over for opportunity for themselves and for their children; the closest schools are in Park- dale, forty minutes away. They take in students from three other towns.
Beyond its main street, Cold Creek arteries out into worn and chipped Monopoly houses that no longer have a place upon the board. From there lies a rural sort of wilderness. Thehighway out is interrupted by veins of dirt roads leading to nowhere as often as they lead to pockets of dilapidated houses or trailer parks in even worse shape. In the summertime, a food bus comes with free lunches for the kids until the school year resumes, guaranteeing at least two subsidized meals a day.
There’s a quiet to it that’s startling if you’ve lived your whole life in the city, like I have. Cold Creek is surrounded by a beautiful, uninterrupted expanse of land and sky that seem to go on forever. Its sunsets are spectacular; electric golds and oranges, pinks and purples, natural beauty unspoiled by the insult of skyscrapers. The sheer amount of space is humbling, almost divine. It’s hard to imagine feeling trapped here.
But most people here do.

 

COLD CREEK RESIDENT [FEMALE]:
You live in Cold Creek because you were born here and if you’re born here, you’re probably never getting out.

 

WEST McCRAY:
That’s not entirely true. There have been some success stories, college graduates who moved on and found well-paying jobs in distant cities, but they tend to be the exception and not the rule. Cold Creek is home to a quality of life we’re raised to aspire beyond, if we’re born privileged enough to have the choice.
Here, everyone’s working so hard to care for their families and keep their heads above water that, if they wasted time on the petty dramas, scandals and personal grudges that seem to define small towns in our nation’s imagination, they would not survive. That’s not to say there’s no drama, scandal, or grudge—just that those things are usually more than residents of Cold Creek can afford to care about.

 

Until it happened.

 

The husk of an abandoned, turn-of-the-century one-room schoolhouse sits three miles outside of town, taken by fire. The roof is caved in and what’s left of the walls are charred. It sits next to an apple orchard that’s slowly being reclaimed by the nature that surrounds it: young overgrowth, new trees, wild- flowers.
There’s almost something romantic about it, something that feels like respite from the rest of the world. It’s the perfect place to be alone with your thoughts. At least it was, before.

 

May Beth Foster—who you’ll come to know as this series goes on—took me there herself. I asked to see it. She’s a plump, white, sixty-eight-year-old woman with salt-and-pepper hair. She has a grandmotherly way about her, right down to a voice that’s so invitingly familiar it warms you from the inside out. May Beth is manager of Sparkling River Estates trailer park, a lifelong resident of Cold Creek, and when she talks, people listen. More often than not, they accept whatever she says as the truth.

 

MAY BETH FOSTER:
Just about . . . here.
This is where they found the body.

 

911 DISPATCHER [PHONE]:
911 dispatch. What’s your emergency?

 

 

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