Tell us your name, your book’s title and a bit about your book.
Another Miserable Love Song is an edgy coming-of-age YA novel with a rock n’ roll attitude. The book features a diverse cast of punk-rock characters led by Kallie Echo – a soon-to-be-homeless teen who is looking for a new purpose in life after her beloved father dies. She finds a potential new future as the lead singer of a punk band, but the tour quickly gets complicated when she falls in love with the drummer and then her deadbeat mom shows up. Ultimately, it’s a story about the power of friendship and it’s also a story that represents the nuances of a teen love relationship between non-binary characters.
What was the catalyst for your story?
When I was a teen I didn’t always have the resources or support I needed, and I saw a lot of my friends struggling. I have always gravitated toward friendships with people who are on the fringe in some way. The “weirdos” and “outcasts” are my people, and many of us loved punk rock music. The energy and philosophy of that music really spoke to us, and through our connection to that we created our own little family groups. I feel like my friends were responsible for getting me through those tough years, and I wanted to write a story that reflected those experiences. Teens aren’t “undercooked” adults – they’re passionate people with something to say, and I find that I am really interested in that time in a person’s life.
What are the challenges of writing for or within a series?
I am proud that the book has found a home in the Soundings Series. There’s something really special about books that are written for reluctant readers. I hope readers will find the story exciting and relatable and will then reach for another one from the series.
What was your favourite book as a child and why?
One of my favourites was S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, and it very much influenced the writing of this book. In fact, my main character, Kallie Echo, is a huge fan of the novel as well as the film. What drew me to The Outsiders was the theme of teens living on their own and creating their own family in order to survive. It really spoke to me and I think it is timeless. Reading that book when I was around 11 years old had a profound effect on me. The fact that S.E. Hinton was a female writer and only 15 at the time the book was written made it seem possible for me to become a writer, too.
In your opinion, what makes a compelling story?
For me, it’s about voice, which stems from authentic characters and the relationships those characters have with one another. It doesn’t matter where or when the story is set, or even what transpires over the course of the novel’s narrative, as long as the characters connect with the reader in some way. When I read a book, I want to feel like the characters understand me and the things I’m going through. I want to feel like I’m spending time with real people who have problems just like mine.
Does your book have a niche or specialty market?
I think my book will appeal to teen readers, particularly those who like their stories to be quick, edgy, based in real-life scenarios, and featuring characters who reflect the diverse world we live in.
Do you gravitate toward a certain genre or type of writing?
I write across genres, but typically I write YA fiction. It’s what I love to read and it’s what I started writing all those years ago – before I had a term for it. I think there’s something very special about the YA age range. It’s an age that is so fraught and so dangerous and compelling and exciting. Teens are young enough to still live in the moment, to not be bogged down by the various anxieties and drudgeries of adulthood, and they still believe in true love and the magic in life. And they are also in the most dangerous, or perilous period of their lives. Missteps and bad decisions can have long standing consequences. They are constantly pushing and pulling against rules and striving for autonomy. And there’s a lot of figuring out about who you are, where you want to be, what your identity is, your sexuality. I think teens have the coolest energy and there’s so much to be learned from them and their experiences. Maybe I’m still just a teenager at heart.
What types of conversations do you hope will come out of your book?
I hope readers will think about who it is they want to be – and I don’t mean what kind of job they’ll do when they get older, but what kind of person they want to be. Do they want to be someone who is scared to take risks? Or do they want to be the kind of person who reaches for their dreams? As well, I hope that teens who are having issues with gender identity find someone to talk to and I hope they will understand that there is someone out there who will love them for who they are. There is someone for everyone. True love does exist.
Tell us a little known or interesting fact about yourself.
Working as a copywriter for many years allowed me to do a lot of different fun things. I toured a chocolate factory and sampled all the wares, I learned how hydrogen fuel cells were made, and I flew a helicopter once. They actually gave me the controls, which was pretty scary and very cool. A few years ago I started a band, even though I didn’t know how to play anything and I had terrible stage fright. In typical head-first style I chose the bass and was the lead singer. We had a very sloppy, heavy Black Sabbath kind of sound and we only played one gig.
Brooke Carter was born and raised in beautiful British Columbia, where she earned an MFA in creative writing at UBC and where she currently makes her home with her family. Her stories, poems and articles have appeared in literary journals and national magazines. Another Miserable Love Song is her first novel. For more information, visit www.brookecarter.com.