About McCormick (from her website)
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
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!