The Next Big Thing

I am not the best at talking about MY BOOK, which is sort of funny, as I am quite aces at talking about MY SELF and MY DEEP THOUGHTS. But you know. Writers! Bunch of fucking weirdos! When Charles Tan invited me to participate in the Next Big Thing blog series, it seemed like a fine time to at last make some attempt to remedy my current Marketing Strategy, which consists of "Look about furtively and rapidly change subject when asked about book." Thanks so much, Charles! (Charles has got a very fabulous speculative fiction anthology which you ought to read, btw.) Next week look for posts from writer-friends Stephanie Kuehn, Shirin Dubbin, and Ibi Zoboi.

What is the working title of your next book?

All Our Pretty Songs , which is the actual official title. You can befriend it on Goodreads and here it is at Powell's.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

It is a very loose and very goth retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice story.

What genre does your book fall under?

Books by and for people who cry reading Rimbaud on the train.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I don't care as long as one of them is Gary Oldman circa 1992. I am sure we could find something useful for Idris Elba to do also.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

In the wild, thriving music scene of 1990s Seattle, a tough, punk-rock heroine follows her best friend and her lover into the underworld and finds more than she bargained for.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I have an incomparably wonderful agent and editor; the book is coming out from St. Martin's Press in July 2013.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Thirty-three years.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

If by this do you mean "Do you, Sarah McCarry, owe an unrepayable debt to The Secret History, Tam Lin, and the entire oeuvres of Angela Carter, Elizabeth Hand, and Francesca Lia Block, with bonus style inspiration from that 1993 Perry Farrell movie Gift," the answer is "Yes."

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The Hedi Slimane shoot of Frances Bean Cobain, the Olympic Peninsula, a youth happily misspent pounding the shit out of other teenagers in mosh pits up and down the I-5 corridor, the human impulse towards the ecstatic, and the opportunity to pepper an entire novel with way too many references to the X-Files, the Jesus and Mary Chain, and Nag Champa.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The first page, hopefully:


Aurora and I live in a world without fathers. Hers is dead and mine was gone before I was born. Her house in the hills is full of his absence: his guitars in every room, his picture on all the walls, his flannel shirts and worn-through jeans still hanging in the closets, his platinum records on the mantle of the marble fireplace that is so big we both used to crawl inside it when we were little. He is everywhere, and so we never think about him. Aurora’s mother is a junkie and mine is a witch. When I say it like that, it sounds funny, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true.

This is a story about love, but not the kind of love you think. You’ll see.

Aurora and I grew up like sisters and this is how we match: same bony, long-toed feet, same sharp elbows, same single crooked tooth (Aurora’s left canine, my right front). Same way of looking at you out of the corners of our eyes until you blush. Same taste in music: faster, harder, more. Same appetite. Same heart.

Aurora and I live like sisters but we are not alike. I am tidy and Aurora has never cleaned a mess she made in her life. Aurora sleeps until four if you let her, loves Aliens, smiles often, is the kind of girl who will break into your car to leave you a present you don’t know you want until you find it. Aurora’s mom is richer than anything you can imagine and mine is poor. Aurora is sunlight and I’m a walking scowl. Aurora’s skin is dark and mine is watery cream. She bleaches her black hair white and smokes filterless Lucky Strikes and drinks too much. She wears dresses made out of white lace and gloves with the fingers cut off, Converse with holes at the toes and old-lady satin pumps, and if you think right now of the most beautiful girl you know, Aurora next to that girl is a galaxy dwarfing an ordinary sun.

I am not beautiful at all, but I am mean. Every day I wear black jeans and the worn-out Misfits shirt that used to be Aurora’s dad’s and combat boots with steel in the toes. People keep away from my fists in the pit at shows. I cut my dark hair short and my eyes are grey like smoke when I am happy and like concrete when I am not. Every morning I get up at six and run seven miles, into the hills and back, and where Aurora’s body is model-skinny mine is solid muscle sheathed in a soft layer that all the miles in the world can’t skim away. Aurora breaks hearts and I paint pictures. We are both pretty good at what we do.