Fans of best-selling teen fiction author Libba Bray have been waiting (too long!) for the release of “The Sweet Far Thing,” the final novel in Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy.
This latest book — like its predecessors, “A Great and Terrible Beauty” and “Rebel Angels” — is set in a Victorian finishing school and oozes with classic Gothic themes yet also gives the genre a good shakeup with its rebellious debutante who meets the forces of darkness head on.
Everyone in Park Slope knows Bray — or should, given that she writes virtually everything while sitting on the second couch at the Tea Lounge on Seventh Avenue. That’s where she checked in with Sylvie Myerson this week to discuss her new book (which will be out on Dec. 27) and her forthcoming projects.
SYLVIE MEYERSON: So, we have the final installment in the Gemma Doyle trilogy.
LIBBA BRAY: [Waves arms in the air] Huzzah!
SM: Could you reveal a few tantalizing tidbits? We’re all dying here.
LB: I’m telling you: Victorian glam rock opera with beasties.
SM: Who wears the platforms? The beasties?
LB: They ALL wear the platforms, baby!
SM: Does it get really steamy?
LB: The book, in some ways, is a metaphor for that emerging female sexuality and how frightening and delicious that is to discover that sort of power. The great thing about the Victorians is that everything is so repressed and so sensual. It’s great to be able to play with that kind of imagery and atmosphere, but things go a little further this time around. There’s more steam.
SM: What’s the hardest thing about writing the final novel in a trilogy?
LB: Was there anything that wasn’t hard? [Laughs] The hardest part was what I call the math of it. Things all have to add up and so everything you’ve put in there needs to pay off.
SM: If Gemma Doyle were a 21st-century girl, what kind of a band would she be in?
LB: It’s funny because I can think of exactly who Felicity would be. Felicity would be Bowie. I did listen to a ton of Bowie while I was writing, like “Space Oddity,” “Moonage Daydream,” the really early stuff.
SM: So what would Gemma be listening to?
LB: I think she’d listen to the Runaways. I think she’d listen to Bowie. I think she’d listen to punk. Of course, I’m listing all the things I listen to. Hmmm, I think maybe she’d be a Siouxsie and the Banshees kind of girl. Big on the eyeliner and dark lyrics. A little “Cities in Dust.” Yeah, definitely Siouxsie Sioux.
SM: You have another novel in the works for 2009. Could you tell us a little bit about “Going Bovine”?
LB: It’s a sort of absurdist, dark comedy about a 16-year-old slacker kid with mad cow disease. “It’s the feel-good mad cow disease book of the summer!” Or something like that. But “Going Bovine” is really about those moments in life where we question everything and no longer see/feel/experience our reality in the same way (which is what a lot of adolescence feels like), and whether or not you have to let go of this reality in order to gain clarity. Which is where the String Theory business comes in. Black holes. Viking yard gnomes. Death-obsessed dwarves. True love and magic hardware stores. Disneyworld. Yeah, good times, good times. Should be fun to work on, although I’m pretty much over hamburgers now.
Libba Bray’s “The Sweet Far Thing” (Delacorte Books for Young Readers) will be in bookstores everywhere on Dec. 26.
©2007 Community News Group
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