Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Novel Spotlight - THE LITTLE WOODS, by McCormick Templeman

July is in full swing! Huzzah! Americans are sunbaking, Australians are hibernating, and because I have so many wonderful writer friends—many of whom have novels coming out in the near future—I’ve decided to add a section to my blog which will be aptly named … 

*drum roll*


*cue The Price is Right-like music*

The first spotlight will be cast on a YA novel by McCormick Templeman! *dances* I cannot tell you how long I’ve been waiting to read her debut, THE LITTLE WOODS. What I can tell you is that McCormick is a delight to know. I would sell my left kidney to meet her in person because she is … honestly … that ... awesome. You can check out her website here, and follow her on Twitter here.

About McCormick (from her website)
McCormick Templeman is descended from musicians and criminals. She holds a BA in English Literature from Reed College and an MFA in Writing and Poetics from Naropa University. She lives in California with some people and some stuff.

About the book:

Unexplained disappearances. Suspicious deaths. There's something wrong with the woods behind St. Bede's Academy.

When Cally Wood starts at St. Bede's halfway through her junior year, she's suddenly thrust into a world of privilege and prestige, and in no time flat, she learns to navigate the complex social world of the upper echelon. But amid the illicit romances and weekend-long parties, Cally discovers that a brilliant but troubled girl named Iris disappeared from St. Bede's just a few months ago. Most people assume she ran away, but the police still haven't found her. And Iris wouldn't be the first girl to go missing from the school. Ten years ago, Cally's sister was visiting a friend from camp at St. Bede's when both girls vanished from their beds.

As Cally tries to unravel the mystery surrounding Iris--one she can't help but link to her own sister's disappearance--she discovers that beneath the surface of this elite school and its perfect students lies a web of secrets where rumors are indistinguishable from truths and it seems everyone has something to hide. 

Me: What I love about this premise is the possibilities surrounding why these girls are disappearing. Supernatural? Maybe. Serial killer? Could be. Alien abductions? I DON’T KNOW, BUT I WANNA. What inspired you to write THE LITTLE WOODS?

McCormick: I can’t say much about the specifics of the inspiration for the book without giving too much away, but I was goofing around in the New York Public Library reading case studies by a medical examiner from the early 1900s, when I stumbled across something that completely freaked me out. Suddenly this story popped into my head and I had to write it. THE LITTLE WOODS is very different from that initial conception (originally it was a historical mystery with an adult narrator), but its roots are the same, and that spark guided me through from start to finish.

Me: So it's NOT a memoir? ;)

McCormick: It is absolutely not a memoir. I think there is a little bit of me in every character I write, but I've never written anything that is really about me or my life. I like to make up friends and invent lives for them because why not? It's fun. But I did go to boarding school and I used the campus layout and tried to recapture that feeling of being trapped that I felt a lot during boarding school. But no, definitely not a memoir. 

Me: Phew! Glad to hear your boarding school experiences weren’t shrouded in murder mysteries. ;) What led you to those case studies in the public library?

McCormick: I had a day of classes that went from 8:30am to 10pm, and this one day a class was cancelled in the middle of the day. I couldn't stomach studying or doing something responsible, so I decided to walk up to the public library to goof around for a few hours. I went to the reading room and got a big stack of weird books just for fun, and that was one of them. When I finally went back to class, I was so obsessed with the novel idea that seemed to have just fallen in my lap, that I couldn't concentrate for the rest of the day. I started writing the book that very night.

Me: Talk about being in the right place at the right time! Who said goofing around never did anyone any good?! With the inspiration coming from a century-old medical examiner’s book, and the setting so eerily elite, if you could describe your novel as [TV show/movie/novel] meets [TV show/movie/novel], what would it be?

McCormick: Jay Kristoff, author of the insanely genius Stormdancer (out fall 2012) described The Little Woods thusly: “A slow motion collision between Twin Peaks and Gossip Girl set to a Bikini Kill soundtrack.” Since he's such a brilliant writer, I'll just let his words stand.

Me: I agree—Jay is made of awesome (readers, his website can be found here, and you can follow him on Twitter here). So, McCormick, some of my readers are un-agented writers, like myself. Was this the novel that landed you your agent, Kate Garrick, of DeFiore and Company? What was it like to get the call/email from her when she finished THE LITTLE WOODS?

McCormick: THE LITTLE WOODS actually wasn't the book that landed me my agent. The infamous agent email was for an adult book I wrote as my MFA thesis. I still love that book, and will probably re-work it someday. That email was totally shocking because I was not expecting her to actually be interested, and had only queried her on a lark. When I got the email, I didn't believe it. Sometimes I still don't believe it. I just sat there staring at the screen reading it over and over again, searching for the part where she revealed it all to be a massive joke. Then I kind of floated around for days consumed with blissful disbelief. For THE LITTLE WOODS, it was much less eventful. I just emailed her and was like, you want to read this? And she was like yeah. It was much less dramatic.

Me: *giggles* I just imagined a Napoleon Dynamite-style conversation between you and Ms. Garrick. I imagine the conversation was a little livelier when you were told Schwartz & Wade Books / Random House had made an offer?

McCormick: Honestly, no. Part of me really is a little bit like Napoleon Dynamite. I had a strong feeling that I was going to get the call on the day that I did, and I was so nervous about it that I just didn't answer. I hope Kate doesn't read this because I think I drive her kind of crazy with my phone phobia. She only had my home number, and when the phone rang, and I knew what it was, I just got in my car and drove away. I know that was a crazy thing to do, but sometimes good news and bad news feel the same inside my body. It's kind of like stage fright. I was just too freaked out to hear the news. I finally called her back three hours later, and when she told me, I was like, "Mm hmm. That's good." She was like, "yeah... that's really good." I am the worst client in terms of the excited phone call. I can't verbally express that I'm excited. I have a suspicious "yeah, what's the catch?" thing going on.

Me: Haha—me too! Thankfully in your case the ‘too good to be true’ saying didn’t apply! So how will you be celebrating its release this week?

McCormick: Cheap champagne and good sushi!

Me: Sounds good to me! Thank you so much, McCormick, for allowing me to interview you. It’s been a true pleasure!

Readers, THE LITTLE WOODS is coming out today, July 10, 2012 from Schwartz & Wade Books / Random House.

You can buy THE LITTLE WOODS on Amazon here, from Barnes & Noble, Indie Bound, and Powell's Books.

For my Aussie readers, you can buy it at Angus and Robertson, Dymocks, and on Kindle.

Happy reading!