One author, Four questions. Today we’re talking to Emery Lord, author of OPEN ROAD SUMMER. Here we go!

What’s your debut book about?

OPEN ROAD SUMMER is about a girl who tries to outrun her problems by going on tour with her country singer best friend…only to find more problems, thanks to the beautiful, annoying, kind-hearted, arrogant boy who is dating her friend as a publicity stunt. But, mostly, this book is about being seventeen, which means it is full of aches and tiny bursts of glory and the songs that change you and the friends that clasp your hand along the way.

Can you share any cool details with us?

Here is a weird fact, considering the music tour I wrote about: on the pie chart of the music I listen to, country music is one of the smallest slivers, even though there are a few records I really love. The biggest pie pieces are indie/alt-folk/singer-songwriter stuff, whether cheerful or deeply melancholy, pop anthems that most indie/alt-folk/singer-songwriter fans would be ashamed of, but I am not, and classic rock/soul that I grew up with: Fleetwood Mac, Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Sam Cooke, Joni Mitchell, you get it.

What inspired OPEN ROAD SUMMER?

A few years ago, I was spending a lot of time driving down the highway that connects Columbus (where I lived) to Cincinnati (where my boyfriend lived). A few times, I passed country music tours which were also traveling south from Columbus, and I wondered what happens on those buses during all the in-between spaces. As far as characters, the book I had worked on before ORS featured an introverted good-girl as narrator. I wanted to shake things up and step far away from my comfort zone. One day, I was blasting Cooler Than Me by Mike Posner while driving down said highway and started wondering what it would be like to write from the perspective of a girl who thought she was cooler than everyone.

All that stuff was in my weird little mind-blender, and, once whirled, it made a story about small towns and a music tour, narrated by a confident, mouthy girl, with whom I have basically nothing in common.

What cool facts might readers not know about you?

  • I am still as completely, gob-smackedly in love with reading as I was as a kid. I told my parents I needed a nightlight for YEARS even though I wasn’t scared of the dark at all. I just needed it for when they made me turn off my bedroom light, assuming I’d go to sleep. Instead, I’d sneak out of bed and sit on the carpet next to my nightlight and keep reading. I still read until 2AM if I feel like it, even when I have to be up in the morning. And it’s still worth it.
  • My dad’s from England, and my mom is a member of the DAR. I blame this for all my contrariness. (Please see: illicit nightlight reading)
  • I was born in Baltimore and had lived in Virginia Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Chicago, and Columbus by the time I was in fifth grade. (In other words: I love Old Bay on my French fries/everything, I can be in the ocean all day, I’m a master snow sculptor–snowmen, igloos, polar bears, whateva, and I have tried every flavor of Jeni’s Ice Cream that presently exists.)
  • On that same note, my very first summer job was at an ice cream shop. My boyfriend worked at the movie theater down the road and had to wear a tuxedo with a cummerbund as his uniform. He’d pick me up after work in his formalwear, smelling like movie theater popcorn, and we’d drive the backroads of our hometown and blast music and stay out too late and laugh and laugh. Then, some years later, I married him, and it comes as no surprise that we still eat a LOT of ice cream and popcorn and still stay out too late and blast music in every room of our house and laugh and laugh.
  • …I realize none of these facts are, like, cool cool. And neither am I. I just think it’s better that you know now, so we can get that out of the way and be nerds together.
Emery Lord lives in a pink row house in Cincinnati, Ohio, with an upright piano, a ukulele, one husband, and two rescue dogs. She spends her time impulse shopping, laughing so loudly that other people in the restaurant shoot dirty looks at her and her friends, and reading book after book after book. Her debut novel, OPEN ROAD SUMMER is out with Walker/Bloomsbury in Winter 2014.