We are happy to welcome Mary McCoy to the blog. For those of you who will be attending Pasadena Loves YA in a couple of weeks, you will have the opportunity to meet Mary McCoy in person. For readers of the blog, you get a virtual meeting with our interview. Thank you Mary for graciously answering some questions for us about your debut novel, Dead to Me (Disney-Hyperion, March 2015).
What was the researching and writing process like for writing DEAD TO ME? How did you originally come up with the premise?
DEAD TO ME is a film noir-inspired YA mystery. In film noir, the stakes are really high, emotions are heightened, everybody has their guard up, and I think that noir ethos fits into a high school setting really well.
I'm a librarian at the Los Angeles Public Library, so I knew about all these great research collections. Shameless library plug time! I used the online photo collection and map collection. I even used the online menu collection to find out what was on the menu at Musso & Frank in 1948 and how much things cost. The library made is very easy to pepper all those historical details through the book.
The description from GoodReads says that the book is great for fans of LA Confidential. What are some of your favorite noir films and/or mystery novels? Are there any that inspired DEAD TO ME?
I love LA Confidential so much - one of those rare cases where both the book and the movie are equally good! I was also really inspired by the movie Brick, which stars Joseph-Gordon Levitt and is about a high school loner-turned-detective who's trying to find out who killed his ex-girlfriend. As far as old movies go, some of my favorites are D.O.A., Double Indemnity, and In A Lonely Place.
I really love noir and hardboiled detective stories, but all the stock femme fatales and sexist tough guys can get a little grating. So I love it when stories like that are written from a woman's point of view or have really interesting, complicated female characters. Some of my favorites are The Song Is You by Megan Abbott and The Last Embrace by Denise Hamilton.
What drew you to the vibrant setting of 1940s Hollywood - especially the ugly underbelly of the film industry?
There's this incredible book called City of Nets: A Portrait of Hollywood in the 1940s by Otto Friedrich, and it's filled with every piece of gossip and every juicy scandal, but it's also a really well-researched history of the movie industry. Everyone should read it! It will suck you in.
DEAD TO ME features a cast of vastly differing characters, each with his or her own fascinating backstory. How did you create all of these back stories and entwine them into the plot so seamlessly?
I wrote long, involved backstories for lots of the characters in DEAD TO ME. Some of those stories made it in to the book (e.g. how Alice's mother got her big break in Hollywood), but a lot didn't (e.g.. how Jerry became a private detective). One character, Millie, was actually inspired by a real 1940s starlet named Lila Leeds whose acting career was ruined after she was caught smoking marijuana with Robert Mitchum (his career bounced back just fine).
My secret to writing a mystery is this: forge ahead to the end even if you don't know how it's going to turn out. Then once you're finished, you can go back and plant all the clues along the way. The thing that makes it all look seamless is working through round after round after round of revisions.
Any upcoming projects or books? Are you planning to write any more books about Alice Gates or 1940s mysteries?
The last line of DEAD TO ME is pretty much my favorite thing that I've ever written, so for now, I'm happy to leave that story and those characters right where they are.
I'm working on something new right now. It's also set in Los Angeles and it's about a history-obsessed main character, but otherwise, it's a whole nother thing.
Pasadena Loves YA
Date: May 23, 2015 | Time: 12 noon - 4 pm
Meet 20 YA authors
Panels & Book Signings
Giveaways and Refreshments
Free tote bags for the first 150 guests!
This is a FREE event at Pasadena Public Library, Central Branch, 285 East Walnut Street, Pasadena, CA 91101
Keynote speaker Mary McCoy (author of Dead to Me) with Katie Alender, Victoria Aveyard, Alexis Bass, Julie Berry, Livia Blackburne, Virginia Boecker, Jessica Brody, Stephen Chbosky, Brandy Colbert, Ava Dellaira, Kody Keplinger, Liz Maccie, Morgan Matson, Lauren Miller, Alexandra Monir, Jennifer Niven, Romina Russell, Sarah Tomp, & Kiersten White
Vroman's Bookstore be selling the books beginning at 11 am. The event is co-sponsored by Bridge to Books.
Though there is no registration required, we would greatly appreciate it if you would post, share, tweet, and tell everyone you know about the upcoming event! Please use the hashtag #PLYA2015.
Enter our Giveaway: Any 3 books from the 2015 Pasadena Loves YA authors, US only, ends 5/20/2015.
Thank you Alethea at Read Now Sleep Later for hosting and organizing the giveaway.