I’m so excited to be a part of the book tour for My Last Summer with Cass by Mark Crilley that is hosted by TBR and Beyond Tours. I was really excited to also be able to interview the author for this book!
Congratulations on the publication of My Last Summer with Cass! How has the publication experience been for My Last Summer with Cass compared to your previous books?
This book actually involved much more revising than I’ve ever had to do on a graphic novel. I’ll be honest: It was tough having to throw out page after page of work that was deemed not good enough to make the final cut. I got through it the way I usually do: by sorting the editor’s notes into a long list of things I could change without hesitation, a shorter list of things I was willing to compromise on, and finally a very short list of things I just couldn’t agree to change. That’s the tricky thing about being a writer: You have to be flexible, but you also have to stay true to your storytelling instincts. In the end, there’s no doubt the revising process improved the story in very substantial ways
How would you describe My Last Summer with Cass in one sentence?
It’s a portrait of a friendship between two artists, showing how their different personalities and instincts eventually bring them into conflict (in a pretty dramatic way!).
Can you introduce us to the main character(s) of My Last Summer with Cass?
At the heart of the story are two main characters. Megan, the narrator, is based on me to some degree. She’s a people pleaser: a fairly cautious type who is particularly eager to stay on the good side of her father, who stands as the gatekeeper between her and the art college she dreams of attending. Her friend Cass is much more of a rebel: a free spirit who values honesty above all else, and never saw a rule that didn’t need breaking.
Do you know from the beginning how your books will end or do you let your characters decide their journey?
I like to know where my story is going, in at least a general sense, before I get too deep into it. So yes, I work out the ending pretty early on: The basic vibe of it at least, if not the specifics. That way I know what sorts of scenes I need to create in order to build a certain momentum toward that ending, little by little. But I’m sure there are plenty of great stories that come from the “let the characters decide” approach.
Was there anything that was cut from the book that you were sad to see go?
Well, there was supposed to be a third childhood scene: one that would have come after the “drawing on the wall” scene but before the “making self-portraits” scene. It was going to show the two of them on the beach making drawings. Cassandra’s drawing used a “warts and all” approach, while Megan’s was less honest: she made an effort to improve upon what she actually saw in real life. I liked the idea of seeing them at a mid-childhood stage, and finding that even so early on there was evidence of their different artistic instincts. But it just wasn’t working very well as a scene. So I was maybe a little sad to see it go, but not really. The story is better off without it.
Was it a conscious choice to have each panel be the same hue? How did you decide which hue to use?
I’m a big fan of art that uses a limited palette. So after a bit of experimentation I arrived at an approach that allowed me to find a kind of midway point between full-color and black-and-white. What you’ve got is fairly warm yellows and reds for the daytime scenes, and cool blues and purples for the nighttime scenes. I enjoyed the process so much I may use a similar technique for my future projects.
What’s next for you? Anything you can share?
I’ve just finished a book called THE COMIC BOOK LESSON, which is a follow up to a book I did a few years back called THE DRAWING LESSON. Both books use the format of a fictional story, in graphic novel form, to present a series of lessons to the reader. In the new book the main character, who wants to learn how to make comics, is shown the tricks of the trade by three mentors who each have different things to teach her about how it’s done. And right now I’m in the middle of a new graphic novel about a high school student’s experiences in Taiwan during one particularly memorable day. I’d better not say any more about that one for now!
ABOUT THE BOOK
This One Summer meets The Edge of Seventeen in this poignant coming-of-age YA graphic novel about two childhood friends at a crossroads in their lives and art—from the author of Mastering Manga.
Megan and Cass have been joined at the brush for as long as they can remember. For years, while spending summers together at a lakeside cabin, they created art together, from sand to scribbles . . . to anything available. Then Cass moved away to New York.
When Megan finally convinces her parents to let her spend a week in the city, too, it seems like Cass has completely changed. She has tattoos, every artist in the city knows her—she even eats chicken feet! At least one thing has stayed the same: They still make their best art together.
But when one girl betrays the other’s trust on the eve of what is supposed to be their greatest artistic feat yet, can their friendship survive? Can their art?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Crilley was raised in Detroit, Michigan. After graduating from Kalamazoo College, he traveled to Taiwan and Japan, where he taught English for nearly five years. It was during his stay in Japan that he created the Eisner Award–nominated comic Akiko on the Planet Smoo, which spawned a series of graphic novels and prose novel adaptations. In 1998, Mark Crilley was named to Entertainment Weekly’s It List of the 100 most creative people in entertainment.