Blog Tour: Q & A with Carrie Mac

Welcome to the Midsummer Reads day on the 10 Things I Can See From Here Blog Tour!

I had the pleasure of interviewing the lovely Carrie Mac about her new book and about some of the content!

You can keep an eye our for review of 10 Things I Can See From Here, coming soon!

Interview Key: Italics= Midsummer, Bold = Carrie Mac

  1. Carrie, as someone who struggles with anxiety, it is so great to read a book that depicts the spiraling thoughts that come along with it.  Did you do a lot of research to show this accurately?

Anxiety is a very unwelcome houseguest in my own imagination.

It’s always there, and even when I kindly—or very unkindly—suggest that it’s time to go, it hangs around. Sometimes when I’ve tried to get rid of it, it hides and I think it’s finally gone, but then it burns a piece of toast in the kitchen and starts a small fire and before you know it there are sirens and then the fire trucks are outside and the house has burnt down. Or no, wait, it hasn’t. Just the smoke alarm went off.

That little shit Anxiety never left. It just hid in a closet until I was finally calming down. Oh, I know Anxiety well. I don’t like it, but we are close.

Same for a couple other dear members of my family, so it was all too easy to write. And all too easy to give to Maeve.

Sorry Maeve. Love you, hon.

 

2. What was your thought process of not having Maeve attend therapy while staying with her family in Canada?

There are a couple of reasons.

As much as Maeve’s dad and stepmom are on board with whatever Deena wants to do to support Maeve, they have their own ideas and beliefs about mental health and truth be told, they’re not that into formal supports, if at all avoidable. Maeve’s dad doesn’t give much thought to any particular ‘approach’ to Maeve’s mental health at all, other than to love her for who she is and support in any given moment to calm down or take it easy or change the subject. Claire is big into anything supporting Maeve’s mental health, but only if it rings as true and helpful. Claire—having experience with it herself — is not that into talk therapy, so that’s not something she wouldn’t leap at. But hikes and sleep and diet and homeopathy? Knitting? You bet!

Now that things have settled down, Maeve will sort herself out and find a therapist. Unless she’s going to use the six months to try other things.

Not knitting though.

Or marimba lessons.

 

3. I think I’ve only read one or two books that were explicit about being based in Canada! It was so nice to read about Vancouver. Since you live in Canada was this a natural choice, or was it a secret plot to make us all want to visit? (But seriously, I want to go to Vancouver now.) 

            This story lives in East Van. I’m sitting in my usual coffee shop writing now, looking out on the neighborhood where Maeve’s parents live. Most of my novels don’t need to be set anywhere in particular, but Maeve’s story is an East Vancouver story. This neighborhood is special, and it is exactly what I needed for Maeve. Her community needed to be healthy and vibrant and supportive and delightfully weird because she was already dealing with her anxiety and a very real mess at home, and then the added flurry that comes with falling in love. This neighborhood is an anchor in the book.

Absolutely come visit! This is a charmed city in so many ways, even if our dark underbelly can be exceptionally dark at times.

 

4. On your Twitter you mentioned that the bus beheading was a real story that inspired one of Maeve’s spirals, are the others she references real as well? 

Most of them are, yes. To name a few, the bus beheading, the women taken from the Downtown Eastside and murdered at a pig farm, the young women shot by a gunman while at college, the man who drove off the ferry dock, bedbug infestations, the suicide pact, cholera, the woman driving the ‘school bus’ van, and then others are more general, like someone jumping in front of a train, earthquakes (very real threat here), or being kidnapped from a city park. Real or not, though, I bent each one to make it fit. Like Emily Dickinson wrote, “Tell all the truth, but tell it slant.”

 5. Speaking of, how much of your research for this novel was on disastrous statistics? 

            I only dipped into actual statistics when absolutely necessary because they freak me out. So much that I’m getting anxious just answering this question. Maeve needs facts. They both fuel her anxiety and set limits to it, so I researched for her. If it were up to me, I’d never ever look that shit up.

Now, what are ten things I can see from here …?

 

6. What is the most exciting thing about having 10 Things I Can See From Here being published with such a large advertising campaign? I swear most bloggers I talk to have either read your book or have had it pre-ordered for a long time! 

            I love actually seeing it everywhere. The cover just pops right out of websites and news releases and tweets sings “Hi! Look at me! I am so beautiful and you should read me and we will be such good friends!” And when I see the book pop up I think, “Oh! There’s my super famous friend!” and then I remember that 10 Things is my baby. It’s really exciting. I can’t wait for everyone to read it. And I cannot wait for people to send selfies of them reading it all over the place, with that gorgeous cover doing a song and dance on a dreary subway train or a dark bedroom on a rainy day.

 

7. What advice do you have to young writers who struggle to sit down and finish a story?

            Write all the way to the end. Don’t look back. Don’t re-read, don’t revise, don’t do spellcheck, just keep going all the way to the end. That’s when you can start to be precious about it. Wait until you have a first draft, and then you can worry, and revise, and change things around.

First drafts suck.

They should.

Write the damn thing, and then you get to move on to the second draft, which is so much better.

Don’t believe in writers’ block. It’s a myth. It doesn’t exist. Just because you can’t write the thing you want to write doesn’t mean you can’t work on something else.

Write.

Just write.

Imagine if you wrote only one single page a day, you’d have a 365-page novel at the end of the year.

Yay, you!

 

8. If you had to say one thing to a young reader after they read 10 Things I Can See From Here, what would you say? 

“What did you think of it?”

And then we’d get to talking because of their answer. Maybe they want to talk about Maeve, and how they identified with her anxiety, or maybe they loved how being queer was no big deal because it’s a huge taboo in their community. Or maybe they want to critique me on the book, because they’re a writer and would’ve done it differently.

I don’t have any one thing to say, but I would love to hear what readers have to say.

 

 

Thanks so much to Carrie Mac for stopping by A Midsummer Night’s Read!  You can pick up 10 Things I Can See From Here now!

 

 

 

Book Review: Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

Mary B. Addison killed a baby.

Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: A white baby had died while under the care of a church-going black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it? She wouldn’t say.

Mary survived six years in baby jail before being dumped in a group home. The house isn’t really “home”—no place where you fear for your life can be considered a home. Home is Ted, who she meets on assignment at a nursing home.

There wasn’t a point to setting the record straight before, but now she’s got Ted—and their unborn child—to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary must find the voice to fight her past. And her fate lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But who really knows the real Mary?

Release Date: January 24, 2017

I think one of the best things about the movement in young adult literature to include diverse authors and own voice narratives is that stories like Tiffany D. Jackson’s will become popular. This novel has all the things that make a good crime novel wonderful, it has a likable yet maybe untrustworthy narrator, a vicious and questionable crime, interesting family dynamics, insight into the criminal justice system when it comes to teenagers, and the dynamics of a group home.

Now, I realize that this is still a fictional narrative but there are a lot of similarities between this Mary’s story and that of the real life child murderer, Mary Bell.  Jackson doesn’t really delve into that in this novel, but she does have a secondary refer to Mary as Mary Bell in one interaction, so I thought it would be interesting to point out the similarities between the character and her real counterpart.

Mary Bell was around 10 years of age when she murdered two toddlers, she had a known strange relationship with her mother (who attempted to kill her a few times), it was an extremely sensationalized case, with her only receiving a minimum sentence since she was a child with diminished responsibility (much like our character).  Another part that is taken directly from reality is the last name of the victim, Richardson. Now, the average Young Adult reader probably wouldn’t be aware of these similarities, but I just happened to read a true crime book a few years ago that brought this up.

I applaud Jackson for bringing a story like this to the forefront, because as awful as it is to kill a child in a narrative, it is something that happens.

Jackson did such a great job of keeping the reader in the dark about certain aspects of the crime and of Mary’s life prior to the death of the child.  I think that the questions about Mary and her Mother really provide more mystery than the death itself.  It’s an interesting commentary on emotional abuse and the desperate relationship between these two characters, plus is raises the question of just how far you’d go for family.

In addition, Jackson was amazing at including linguistic representation of accents.  I find it lacking when an author sometimes just mentions that a character has a type of regional accent without showing this to the reader in dialogue. Bravo for including this, I loved it and it really put me IN those characters’ voices.

I’m giving this novel 4 Bards.  There is a very upsetting scene with an animal in this and violence between characters that doesn’t involve the murder of the child, so please be aware of this when purchasing it for your teen.

#ReadIndie Book Review: The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavic

Neil Josten is the newest addition to the Palmetto State University Exy team. He’s short, he’s fast, he’s got a ton of potential—and he’s the runaway son of the murderous crime lord known as The Butcher.

Signing a contract with the PSU Foxes is the last thing a guy like Neil should do. The team is high profile and he doesn’t need sports crews broadcasting pictures of his face around the nation. His lies will hold up only so long under this kind of scrutiny and the truth will get him killed.

But Neil’s not the only one with secrets on the team. One of Neil’s new teammates is a friend from his old life, and Neil can’t walk away from him a second time. Neil has survived the last eight years by running. Maybe he’s finally found someone and something worth fighting for.

This is going to be a little different as a review because this is the third time I’ve read this trilogy this year (if that tells you anything about my opinion), and I’ve also read all of the extra content available on Sakavic’s tumblr. After finishing the series, you can definitely see how Sakavic sets up for the final book and where the story is going to go. However, the first time I read it I had no idea where it was going, so if that happens to you, I encourage you to keep going. Especially, since this is a book about a demisexual character written by an aro/ace author. It was probably the first book I ever read about someone on the ace spectrum, so it’s definitely worth it to keep going.

The book starts out about a kid on the run from his father just trying to find some kind of happiness in playing a sport he loves. As it turns out, Neil’s running from more than just his father, he just didn’t know it. The story does get pretty dark and graphic as Neil’s complicated past catches up with him. What I love about Neil though is that he is a survivor. No matter what is thrown at him he continues to get back up and keep living, sometimes out of pure spite (which is definitely something I can relate to).

I do love every single character (that’s not trying to kill Neil) in this series. They’re all flawed and complicated and it makes them more real. But they’re also sarcastic little shits that make you shake your head and laugh in disbelief. Wymack is the perfect example of all bark and no bite when it comes to his team, he yells at them day in and day out, but would lay down his life for any one of them. Andrew becomes the steadying force in Neil’s life if only because he’s been through just as much as Neil and Neil comes to learn that relying on Andrew could be the easiest thing he’s ever done. The rest of the Foxes stick with Neil even through all the crazy drama he brings with him. They make him believe he can have nice things (if he doesn’t up his big mouth and call his biggest rival an asshole on National TV) and a home with them.

At the end of the day The Foxhole Court is a story about home and finding a family, and sticking around on a chance of hope, even when you don’t think you deserve it. That’s why this story resonates so much with me, why I’ve read it three times this year. The struggle to find a balance between what you’ve known your whole life and what you desperately want instead is something I think a lot of people can relate to.

I’d give the trilogy an overall 4.5 bards.

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