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.

Mignon Fogarty
Episode #645
The book Sadie by Courtney Summers

MF: Yeah, that's the writer's life, right? In your pajamas until 4 p.m.

CS: Exactly. That’s my uniform.

MF: I feel very accomplished when I get dressed.

CS: Same. I do too. It’s like, “Wow! Super productive day." Even if I haven’t written anything.

MF: Moving on to the language, so one of the things I noticed, I think it's the only book I've ever read where one of the characters stutters, and I was hoping you could talk to me about the decision to make the character stutter and also maybe other ways that you've used language to define your characters.

CS: I think that with Sadie’s stutter, the question was why can't a main character have a stutter? There's no reason they can’t. There’s no reason they can’t star in a story or be the hero of that story. I think there's a relative dearth of stories with characters with speech impediments. So, that was the decision behind that. 

And as far as language, like with the podcast portion, I was very much about trying to call to mind shows like this “This American Life,” and have a very clear sound in your head. You know, like when you're thinking about NPR, you can hear Ira Glass in your head. So it was like mimicking that sort of flow on the page with the words that was always at the forefront of my mind.

And Sadie has a very stream-of-consciousness narrative happening, and it’s a very stark contrast to what is a very formal, very tightly-wound, I think, kind of delivery to the host's narrative in the podcast transcript. So just that juxtaposition was always at the center of my thoughts as well.

MF: Yeah, the host does have that kind of NPR-feel.

CS: He's kind of pretentious. I mean, I like him, but he’s pretentious.


About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show.

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