What's Fresh with Alex McAulay's Lost Summer
From the author of Bad Girls comes another dramatic novel of survival and suspense. It's Laguna Beach meets Cape Fear when a rich girl from California confronts murder and isolation on North Carolina's stormy Outer Banks.
When Caitlin Ross's mother takes her and her brother to an island in the remote Outer Banks for the summer, Caitlin is furious. She was planning on spending the summer hanging out by the pool, partying, shopping, and singing backup in her boyfriend's band, Box of Flowers. North Carolina isn't anything like California, and Caitlin doesn't fit in. But her troubled mother is too busy popping pills and trying to win back her creepy ex-boyfriend to care.
At first, the only friend Caitlin makes on the desolate island is a local misfit named Danielle. But things start to improve when she meets a bunch of visiting prep school boys and gets swept up in their exciting world. Then, one dark night, she witnesses a murder and begins to suspect that her new friends aren't really her friends at all. With a powerful hurricane approaching, and the island cut off from the outside world, Caitlin has no one to turn to but herself . . . and whether she'll live to see another summer is the biggest mystery of all.
Hello Alex, thanks so much for agreeing to chat. Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you sold your novel, Bad Girls, to MTV books?
Alex: I never expected to become a novelist. Although I studied English literature at college, I was mainly interested in music at the time, and thought I was going to become a rock star. When that didn't happen, of course, I had to figure out something else to do with my time that would be fun, creative, and make some money. Everyone who knew me told me I was crazy to try writing novels, and that I would probably fail to get published--everyone except my wife, Lisa, who actually encouraged me! So I began trying to write. I had an idea to do an all-female version of Lord of the Flies, and that became my first novel, Bad Girls. At the time, I was teaching English lit during the day, and writing the novel late at night on little scraps of paper. Slowly over time the papers turned into a very rough first draft. Then I spent several months revising it. I had no clue what to do with the novel when I was done, so I wrote a letter to a local author and musician, Matt O'Keefe, and his wife, the novelist Leah Stewart. They were very kind and volunteered to read some of the pages. They liked the pages and forwarded them to Matt's agent, Dave Dunton at the Harvey Klinger Agency in New York. Dave, who is a brilliant agent and has since become a good friend, read the book, and after suggesting some changes, sold it to MTV Books a few weeks later.
Very cool, Alex! In publishing news, the word is that your novel, Bad Girls, is being turned into a movie. How exciting! Would you share with us how this came about and more importantly how you felt when you first discovered the news?
Alex: MTV Films offered the film deal at the same time MTV Books offered to buy the book, so the film news was a very exciting (but strange and slightly overwhelming) experience! It was a relief not to have to teach anymore, or worry about scrounging up a crappy day job. I'm fairly disconnected from the film stuff at this point, although I'm fascinated by the rumors that have swirled around the project. At some point I read online that Lindsay Lohan and/or Hilary Duff was interested, and later Jena Malone (of Donnie Darko fame), but nothing concrete has happened yet. MTV did re-option the film rights last year, though, so I have my fingers crossed that one day they will actually make the movie...
Please tell us about your latest novel, Lost Summer, and what we can expect from your characters.
Alex: My second novel, Lost Summer, was released this past summer. Like Bad Girls, it's a thriller about a girl in trouble. The main character, Caitlin, gets dragged to a remote island off the coast of North Carolina by her drug-addicted mother. She ends up hanging out with an unsavory group of kids and witnessing a murder on the beach. From there, she's on the run for her life. My editors at MTV/Pocket Books, Lauren McKenna and Megan McKeever, are both really fantastic and they helped me hone Lost Summer into a really compelling read (my initial draft was something like 400 pages long, and we got it down to a faster-paced 300 or so). Erica Feldon, who does publicity over there, was also really great in helping work with and promote the book.
What's up next? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.
Alex: At the moment, I'm just finishing up my third novel for MTV/Pocket Books. It's a dark thriller called Snowbound. The details are top secret (okay, not really). It's about a group of teens who get lost in a blizzard in Colorado and encounter some very scary things. I'm almost done with the first draft, and will probably have it all wrapped up by February. MTV Books is releasing it in early November 2007.
Sounds like another great one! Thank you again for sharing, Alex. I wish you the best with your writing career. Would you like to close with a writing tip?
Alex: My writing tip is to read as many good books as possible. Here are some of the great books I've enjoyed, and learned from, recently: The Ruins, by Scott Smith; The War Against Cliche, by Martin Amis; The Last Town on Earth, by Thomas Mullen; The Myth of You and Me, by Leah Stewart; Cell, by Stephen King; John Fowles Diaries, by John Fowles; Just Listen, by Sarah Dessen; The Road, by Cormac McCarthy.
Alex McAulay was born in Seattle, Washington, but grew up mostly in Dallas, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. He graduated from Brown University in 1998 with a degree in English Literature. Under the name "Charles Douglas," he has recorded several indie-rock albums, and worked with members of The Velvet Underground and The Pixies, among many other bands. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife Lisa and their two cats. Visit his website www.alexmcaulay.com.