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
8-minute read
Episode #645
The book Sadie by Courtney Summers

MF: The other thing I loved is that when we asked you for your favorite quotation, you picked something from the Paul Auster “New York Trilogy,” and I read that in college, and I loved it too, and I want to know what you like about it.

CS: Honestly, it's the language, like the paragraph that I sent you about being nowhere and how he was no man and that’s where he wanted to be. I just felt like every time it was just something that felt so honest and true, and I feel like I like it in pieces because I just reach a certain point in it every time, and I just zero in on these parts that feel right and just get you to the bone.

MF: I guess in a way it doesn’t surprise me that you like that book because my very distant memory of it is that it’s also pretty dark. I remember him hiding behind a dumpster and feeling really isolated and almost disconnected from the world.

CS: Right, all that grim deliciousness. I’m definitely at home with that. I mean not that you can't elicit a strong response with happy stories, but I think I always remember being a kid and being profoundly struck by stories that I thought were unfair. Do you remember the first story you read or watched where you though that's not the ending you wanted, but you can't think of how else it could have been? And you're just struck by how unfair but appropriate it is when the rules seem to break. There's a point where it's all Disney movies, and then you're like, “Oh, but it doesn't always have to end happily ever after,” and then it's like, “What?”

MF: Yeah, I do remember that

CS: I love making people mad.

MF: In fact as I was scrolling through your website, didn’t one of your books win a “worst child character” award?

CS: Yeah! I forget what place gave it the nod. There was a list of worst children. I'll take it. I think it was less an award and more like their little thing that they did to recognize terrible children in literature, and I'm like, “That's going in my obituary eventually!” 

MF: But now, you say you like it that way, but I’m going to turn the tables on you because when we asked you what word you'd like to add to the dictionary, you chose a warm, happy word. You chose “loveology.”

CS: Love can be heartbreaking and terrible. Maybe not terrible, but it can be hard. Have you ever heard that song by Regina Spektor? She turns every word into an “ology,” so it's like “I'm sorry ology,” “forgive me ology,” and “Loveology” is the title of the song, and it just loved the idea. It’s very evocative to me. I guess it is kind of cozy comparatively to the things that I'm interested in, but I've got a surprise people too. 

MF: Well, thank you for talking to me about your book, “Sadie,” which I loved, and a lot of other people also did because it was a New York Times bestseller. Where can people find you?

CS: Anyone can find me on Twitter at Courtney_S or Instagram which is SummersCourtney or they can look me up on my website at CourtneySummers.ca.


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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