Hi Emily! Congratulations on the release of A LOVE STORY. Happy to have you here at Read This Book this week! Could you please share with us a little bit about yourself? We would love to learn more about you!
I was born in Canada and grew up moving around to Montreal, France, Texas, and North Carolina. I studied linguistics and Japanese in college and spent some time studying classical Japanese literature in Nagasaki. I’d always loved to write, but in Japan I got inspired by the do-it-yourself culture of fan-made comics and decided to get serious about it.
The idea of going on a road trip on a bicycle is really cool! Was it based on/inspired by a real event?
I’ve never gone bicycle touring personally. I really wanted to, and I still want to, but I’m not naturally athletic. To be honest I’m the opposite of naturally athletic. I was trying to build up my fitness and my endurance so that I could make a serious go of bike touring, but I moved to New York before I managed to do it. My stepfather did some bike touring in Canada in his youth, and I was also really inspired by a guy named Ken Kifer who has done some crazy bicycle trips — once he did one with kittens in his basket! — and who documented them on his web page at kenkifer.com.
In a A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend, the main character Cass goes on a road trip on a bike. When was the last time you rode a bike?
In 2007, before I moved to New York. When I was in grad school I went everywhere on my bike, but drivers here are really aggressive, and a colleague of mine was killed commuting to work on his bike. I wish I were braver about cycling, but I don’t quite have the skills to hold my own against traffic.
But even though I don’t bike so much these days, bicycle advocacy is really important to me. I grew up in the suburbs, where I depended on my parents to drive me everywhere, and I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was 24. Biking is good for the environment, it’s good for your health, it’s fun — and it’s important for me to live somewhere where I don’t have to depend on a car to get around.
If you were spending the day with Cass, where and what would you do?
I want to say that we would ride bikes together, but she would leave me in the dust! But I love to show my friends around New York and figure out what they would have fun doing. So: biking along the Hudson River, lunch at Boneshakers cafe in Williamsburg where we could snicker at hipsters on their fixed-gear bikes, and going to the theater to see Wicked.
Have you ever been part of a musical? If yes, what was it about? If no, which musical do you wish you could be part of?
I was a tree when my sixth-grade class did Peter Pan, and that was the end of my career in the theater. But I learned from that that if you’re going to work on a musical, you’d better be prepared to listen to all of the songs over and over and over and over again. So if I could be a part of a musical, it would be Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which is a tremendous amount of fun, and there’s not a bad song on that whole soundtrack.
If you could meet one author, living or dead, who would it be?
Sei Shonagon, the author of “The Pillow Book,” a book that is at times beautifully written and at times hilariously catty about 10th-century Japanese court life. I’ve always thought that she would be a ton of fun to hang out with.
If you could go back in time and tell your 16-year-old self a piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t buy into the narrowness of life in high school, and how you’re told that you have to measure up to a certain standard of “normal.” It’s a big, big world out there and there is a lot of space to define who you are and who you want to be.
Kirkus called A Love Story “Bittersweet but never mawkish and punctuated with just the right amount of teen hipster humor.” Ultimately, what would you like people to take away from your book?
There’s a Leonard Cohen song that goes, “There is a crack in everything — that’s how the light gets in.” Sometimes it’s our worst moments, our most dark or selfish or vulnerable moments, that open us up to forgiveness and hope.
Are you currently working on anything? Is it ok if you tell us in one sentence what it is about? (unless it’s super top secret!)
I’m working on a fantasy novel about a girl working in a silk factory who gets entangled in political conspiracies, which will hopefully be out in 2012.
Is there anything else you would like to add before we go?
Thanks so much for having me, and you can check out my web site at emilyhorner.com for news and updates!
Stay tuned for more interviews and guest blog coming up later this week. And a giveaway at the end of the week!