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Courtney Summers

e-interviewed by Hilary Williamson (January 2010)

Courtney Summers lives and writes in Canada where she divides her time between a piano, a camera, and word-processing program when she’s not planning for the impending zombie apocalypse. She enjoys Archie comics, Trailer Park Boys, and other fine art. Pierre Trudeau is her hero and if you are a volcano, she would like to know you.

Courtney's excellent Cracked Up To Be pulled readers through the mystery of what turned perfect Parker Fadley overnight from a driven honor student and cheerleader captain into the school loser. Her new release, Some Girls Are, looks at another high school student falling from what she believed to be the heights to the bottom of the school social ladder - Regina Afton discovers what it is like to be on the receiving end of the abuse she once dished out - and learns from the experience.

Q: Teen happiness seems to be a tightrope walk in both your novels, Cracked Up To Be and Some Girls Are. Is that your own perception of adolescence?

A: It's definitely a tightrope walk for both Parker and Regina - and probably future characters. I don't think it's so much an all-encompassing perception I have of adolescence as it is that these are the types of stories and characters I just happen to have an interest in writing about. Although I do think adolescence can be, and often is, an incredibly intense time.

Q: Your title, Some Girls Are, has me searching for suitable adjectives to complete the sentence; was that your intention?

A: Yep! :)

Q: We all know that young women can be cruel - and physically violent - to each other, just from watching the news, but do you have any direct experience of behaviors like the freeze-out in Some Girls Are?

A: Like Regina, I've been frozen-out by my friends. I've been given the silence treatment. I've known they were mad at me but never been told why. That sort of thing. I haven't experienced the worst of what Regina goes through, thankfully!

Q: The adults in Some Girls Are seem totally out of it (Regina's parents both working with a long commute, and teachers who 'never go out of their way to notice anything'); is that how today's teens see the adult world?

A: I can only speak for my characters. That is how Regina sees the adult world and that's how the adults in her world are. I wouldn't necessarily call Regina's parents out of it - her mom asks about what's going on, but she can only work with what she's being told. Regina's not forthcoming. I had a very open and communicative relationship with both of my parents growing up, but if I didn't want them to know something, they didn't know it. Keeping secrets is easy. You don't have to be clueless to be unaware of what is going on in someone's life at every moment and you also don't have to be clueless to be deceived. The teachers in Some Girls Are were definitely clueless, but that said, they don't represent all teachers. :)

Q: Though high school in my day was at times lonely and unhappy, it wasn't a very scary place - you say in Some Girls Are that 'Everyone's afraid' - how true to life is this?

A: In Some Girls Are, everyone was afraid. That statement is true to the story. I think the halls of Hallowell High would be absolutely terrifying to wander. Is that statement applicable to everyone? To every high school? That's always going to depend on the person and the high school. I definitely had moments in mine.

Q: The Internet is a useful mechanism (through an 'I Hate Regina Afton' group on YourSpace) for Anna's clique to attack Regina in Some Girls Are - has it facilitated social bullying, and if so why don't victims use the tools it provides to report abuse?

A: I think the internet has facilitated social bullying - making hate sites is not uncommon. And for all the victims who don't use the tools those sites provide to report such abuse, I'm sure there are those who do. In Regina's case, she didn't because she feared further retaliation - that Anna and her crew would have to "make up" for the page being taken down.

Q: The character who impressed me most in Some Girls Are was Liz - though herself a victim she took action rather than remaining a passive bystander. Why aren't there more Liz's out there?

A: Thank you! I'm glad Liz impressed you. I don't think I can definitively say there are or aren't lots of Liz-types out there. Liz went through a lot and was able to come out of it a stronger person with a solid sense of self and a keen awareness of the things going on around her. It isn't always easy to be that person.

Q: What would you say to a girl suffering what Liz did and what Regina does in Some Girls Are?

A: I'm not sure. That would depend on who I was, and who they were to me. I think each of the characters says a little something for everyone in Some Girls Are, to and about each other.

Q: What would you say to someone like Anna Morrison?

A: Same as above. :)

Q: Why is Pierre Trudeau your hero (he was also mine but I was at university when he first came on the scene)? What's his appeal to your generation?

A: Well, I can only speak for myself. Trudeau's pride in Canada fascinated me and gave me the beginnings of my own national pride. He referred to Canada as "this country we carry within ourselves," and the implications of that really got me because I'd never thought of Canada that way. His visions and ideas for Canada incited me and made me excited about the progress we've made as a country and all the potential we still have. My interest in Trudeau led to an interest in Canadian history, our politics, our arts and entertainment and on and on. I owe him a lot!

Q: Have you ever seen a volcano up close and personal? Do you want to?

A: No, but I would LOVE to. One day, one day!

Q: Anything you'd like to share about what you're working on next (I'll be in line to read it)?

A: Thanks! I am currently writing my next book. As it's very much a work-in-progress, all I'll say is that it starts out grim and sad but I have no idea if it will end that way. :)
Find out more about the author's books, and read her bio and blog, by visiting
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