Mary McCoy: DEAD TO ME

Today we’re talking to Mary McCoy, whose debut novel DEAD TO ME will be published by Disney-Hyperion in Fall 2014. 

What’s your debut book about? Can you share any cool details with us?

DEAD TO ME is a YA crime noir set in 1940s Hollywood, because how could it not be? Even if I’d set out to write a romance novel set in 1940s Hollywood, it probably would have ended up with a body count.

The book is about a 16-year-old girl named Alice who is investigating the attempted murder of her older sister, an aspiring actress-turned-teen runaway. Along the way, however, she uncovers something even more sinister.

It’s full of nifty little tidbits about Golden Age Hollywood, glamorous night spots (and less glamorous flophouses), notorious crimes, and corruption in high places. I spent a lot of time digging through old microfilm and maps and photographs so I could get the atmosphere just right.

What cool facts might readers not know about you?

My parents are actually much cooler than I am – my dad is a beekeeper who can fix anything and my mom has a cake decorating and cookie-making business. As for me, I’m a librarian who wears too much black and owns too many pairs of boots. I had a misspent rock and roll youth, during which I was a bass player in several bands of little to no renown, and I once appeared in an episode of History Detectives on PBS.

Also, I never met a cheese plate I didn’t like.

Do you have any writing quirks–places you need to write or things you need to have with you?

I love baseball, so between April and October I usually have a game on in the background when I write. I’m lucky enough to live in Los Angeles, which means that sometimes the baseball announcer is the brilliant Vin Scully, who has been calling Dodgers games since 1950. Just the sound of his voice is a surefire cure for writer’s block. I believe that if an 85-year-old man can spin a baseball game into poetry the way that Vin always does, I can certainly sit down and write a few lousy pages.

What are your desert island books?

These are the books that I’ve read and re-read, and even though I almost know many of them by heart now, they teach me something new (about life and about writing) every time I read them:

The BFG by Roald Dahl, The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter, Saint Maybe by Anne Tyler, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, The Owlstone Crown by XJ Kennedy, A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, The Old Forest by Peter Taylor, Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh (incidentally, Fitzhugh was Peter Taylor’s niece – I love that two of my favorites are related), The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, and I, Claudius by Robert Graves.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t include The Synonym Finder by J.I. Rodale. I’ve had the same copy since high school, and I still use it frequently, habitually, recurrently, customarily, often, and as a common thing.

Mary McCoy is a librarian at the Los Angeles Public Library. Her debut novel, DEAD TO ME (Disney-Hyperion, Fall 2014), is a YA mystery set in the glamorous, treacherous world of Golden Age Hollywood. She likes new dresses and old cookbooks.

10 thoughts on “Mary McCoy: DEAD TO ME

  1. The Feast of Love! Harriet the Spy! The Westing Game! Oh, Mary, let us rhapsodize all day long and into the night. I’m fascinated to learn that Fitzhugh is Taylor’s niece. Also fascinated by everything concerning Dead to Me. It’s officially on my list.

  2. Isn’t The Feast of Love just the best? I’ve probably read it ten times. And I’m on my fourth copy because I keep giving it to people.

  3. LOVE 40s Hollywood – what a great setting!! Definite must read! Ah, and never met a cheese plate you didn’t like – woman after my own heart 🙂

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