|photo: Megan Gunter
Courtney Summers is the author of the YA novels Cracked Up to Be, All the Rage and Sadie. Her work has received numerous honors, including an Edgar Award, a John Spray Mystery Award, a Cybils Award and an Odyssey Award. She lives and writes in Canada. Summers's most recent book is The Project (Wednesday Books).
On your nightstand now:
I'm reading Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy, about the ravages of climate change through the eyes of a traumatized woman. It's incredibly lovely and thoughtful and sad. I also just finished Hurricane Summer by Asha Bromfield, about a girl who spends the summer in Jamaica, hoping to reconnect with her father--it's a powerful coming-of-age novel, unflinching and bold.
Favorite book when you were a child:
It was a series: The Baby-Sitters Club. I was obsessed. I'll never forget the anticipation I felt waiting for the latest installment. Stacey was my favorite. The intensity of the connection I forged with those characters was a foundational part of my childhood. I don't think I'd be writing without it.
Your top five authors:
My top five are always the most recent authors whose talents reinvigorate my process by reminding me what writing can be, in a way that makes me demand more from myself. Currently they are: Angeline Boulley (Firekeeper's Daughter), Mercedes Helnwein (Slingshot), Tiffany D. Jackson (Grown), Casey McQuiston (One Last Stop) and Kate Elizabeth Russell (My Dark Vanessa).
Book you've faked reading:
I hated school and often faked sick to get out of it and at some point, all my faking overlapped with a class read of The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. I never managed to make it up. I've seen bits of the movie and I know all the catchphrases. It's gotten me by so far!
Book you're an evangelist for:
The Need by Helen Phillips. It's one of the most audacious, genre-defying, clever and unconventionally romantic stories with one of the most terrifying openings I've ever read in my life. The writing is astounding. It's also one of the most rewarding books to get other people to read. Every time I do, I brace myself for the inevitable flurry of texts as they go on that ride.
Book you've bought for the cover:
In the Quick by Kate Hope Day was an instant preorder for me. The first time I saw that astronaut floating in that gorgeous pink space, I gasped. I was lucky enough to get my hands on an early read and am happy to report the book itself is just as beautiful.
Book you hid from your parents:
I never hid books from my parents. I can't remember feeling I should have to, though I do remember my mom watching me wander past with a copy of The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton when I was too young for it. She suggested I reconsider. She was right.
Book that changed your life:
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier was a wonderful little revelation that a story doesn't always owe anyone anything but the truth of itself--no matter how disconcerting, uncomfortable or unwelcome it might be.
Favorite line from a book:
"It was the utter finality of it that was so difficult to accept, the knowledge that they no longer existed as components, however insignificant, of a greater universe. Not even as corpses. They had simply become not." From the Alien novelization by Alan Dean Foster. I hope, by now, he's gotten his royalties.
Five books you'll never part with:
Battle Royale by Koushun Takami, The Need by Helen Phillips, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, Stories from Jonestown by Leigh Fondakowski and The Uninvited by Dorothy Macardle.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
The Need by Helen Phillips, but this time I would read it in front of a mirror so I could see the look on my face when I reached its final, brilliant page.