December 22, 2007 / Perspective / Books / Checkin’ in with...

Teen lit queen, Libba Bray

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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.

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Reader Feedback

sage says:
hay that is cool i really love all your books libba and if you read this it is really hard to find your email sooooo if you could email me at yhat would rule!!!!! you are my fav athour!!!!!
Dec. 25, 2007, 7:04 pm
Sarah says:
I was just could i send Libba Bray a letter?
Does she read her fan mail?
Jan. 30, 2008, 4:06 pm
lauren says:
sage and sarah: if you comment on her livejournal, which is a link on her website, she will get back to you
May 31, 2008, 5:40 pm
Annie from washington state says:
hey libba
my friends and i loved the great and terrible beauty trilogy! but, we just really wish that you would write more books of the vicorian age style...and where kartik does come back! i cried and cried and cried..and cried some more. if and author could do that to me, get in touch with my emotions..then you are a fabulous author! Please write a follow up to the sweet far thing.. like a whole epilouge..epilogue book please!
July 23, 2008, 2:26 pm
gold from santa rosa says:
libba bray, i luv ur books after i read the gemma doyle trigoly i cried like hell. I could not stop crying 4 a whole week . Pls i beg u write another one when kartik does c ome back, i really like him. The reason why i cried that way was becuz, it felt like i was gemma doyle herself and it was happening to me. I felt like i was in the bookIt was like you pulled me into the book and i could see what gemma was seeing. I felt her emotions, her fears and even when she was lonely i felt lonely. I was alwways crying in class cuz of the end when kartik dies and i still cry, it feels like i lost someone dear 2 me. Sometimes my teacher would ask me if i was okay and it was really strange for me to cry for a book like that which shows that the book is lovely. Pls i would likeu to write one where kartik came back even though its a trilogy, pls. Thumbs up, libba bray. U are my best author and will be forever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Aug. 30, 2011, 8:46 pm

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