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The Darkness and Light of Author Courtney Summers

This week is a special show. I interview Courtney Summers, the author of the New York Times best-selling novel "Sadie," and learn what it was like to work on a book that also had a podcast component and what inspires Courtney to write such dark novels.

By
Mignon Fogarty,
Episode #645
The book Sadie by Courtney Summers

What follows is a slightly edited transcript of an interview between Mignon Fogarty and Courtney Summers.

Mignon Fogarty: I read your book “Sadie” and loved it, so why don't you tell the listeners what it's about.

Courtney Summers: “Sadie” is about a girl who goes missing on the hunt for her sister's killer, and about the popular radio personality who starts a podcast dedicated to finding out what happened to her.

MF: It was such a neat idea to incorporate a podcast into the book. I know that's one of the reasons I heard about it, and I get the sense that it was based on the podcast “Serial.” Is that true? Did did you listen to “Serial”?

CS: Kind of. I got the idea toward the end of “Serial” because I was completely fascinated by the response that it was generating. Everyone flipped for it and they were just tuning in and bingeing this content. And I remember reading something about Hae Min Lee’s parents—that they were upset by the whole show. And I thought, “What is the potential consequences of telling stories like these in this kind of bingeable format?” and I really wanted to explore that. So it was kind of inspired by “Serial,” but the details weren't anything like that.

MF: How involved were you in the making of the podcast part? Because the book has a podcast element in it in the writing, but then also there was a real fake true crime podcast that Macmillan made.

CS: I wasn’t involved, and I think that's probably for the best. I mean, Maddie, the producer, sent me the voices that would be doing the audiobook, and I didn't have any objections. I thought they sounded great, and then they just took the audio for the podcast portion from the audiobook production and turned it into a podcast, and I was like, wow, that's amazing. It was the coolest thing, I think, that's happened in my career so far, and I was blown away by it. Really, that's my book? 

MF: Well, I don't know if it's the coolest thing, because we scheduled this interview a while ago, and then I just saw that “Sadie” made the New York Times bestseller list, so...

CS: Yes, OK, maybe that was the coolest! Maybe it’s like a confluence of cool things happening. I can’t pick just one. But yeah, that was unbelievable. Yes, I am very excited that.

MF: So you’ve written many novels before “Sadie,” and I saw that they all had won a lot of awards, but is this your first New York Times bestseller, right?

CS: Yes, when my editor and the team called, I was shaking so hard. It was a very brief call. They were like, “Go tell people! Go celebrate!” and after I got off the phone, my hands hurt because I was holding the phone so tightly. I just could not believe it. I was in this clenched position and was shaking so bad.

MF: What did you do to celebrate? I have to know.

CS: Well, the list comes out at 5 p.m., and I don't know if I should admit this, but at 4 p.m I was in my pajamas, so I decided just to stay inside and be happy about it, but the next night I went out for dinner with my family, and it was very nice.

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