The Lawn Gnome Era
Booktunes read Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, Lish McBride’s debut and was dying to find out who that girl was that so eloquently changed our perception of a brown paper bag. So, we sent Hen & Ink’s Erzsi Deàk to the Pacific Northwest to question the writer of whom they say she was raised by wolves…
Booktunes: Are you good at potato hockey?
Lish McBride: I’m amazing at potato hockey. I could have gone pro. You know, been a contender. Then I blew out my elbow in an impromptu bar brawl and now…now I’ll never know.
BT: How did you land on the idea of using song titles for subject heading riffs? Will book two also feature chapter headings influenced by rock-n-roll?
LMB:The original story was called Zombie Burger (terrible, isn’t it?) and was a play on the Vandals song “Anarchy Burger”. I’ve always had a problem with titles, so when that popped into my head, I grabbed it. When the story expanded, “Brown Paper Packages” followed as a chapter title…I guess it just seemed like a logical thing to do at the time. Book two will continue the trend, naturally.
BT: What is Sam’s favorite band, btw? And do he and Brid get “more serious” (do they have “their” song?)
LMB: I don’t think Sam has a favorite band. I think he’s as bad as I am. I can give you a short list, but I’ll be damned if I can pick just one band. He has an Alkaline Trio shirt in the book, and Paul Simon, and the Get Up Kids on his record player. I can see him enjoying Tiger Army, Mr. T Experience, Saves the Day. I think Ashley would take him to go see The Horrorpops or maybe Nerf Herder. Sam’s a mixed bag when it comes to music.
I don’t want to give away too much. Let’s just say that you’ll see more of them together and leave it at that for now. (Because I’m a jerk and I don’t share.)
I can see Sam picking a song and not telling Bridin, who would probably be horrified at the gooey sentimentality of it all. In Sam’s mind, their song is most likely “Every Thug Needs a Lady” by Alkaline Trio and she would mock him relentlessly for it.
BT: I was howling when Brooke showed up at the door and then when Ashley appeared. I can only imagine you were entertained as well. How many drafts did you do to get the sense of danger and humor just right?
LMB: I lost count. Six maybe? I do try and keep myself entertained during all those revisions…
BT: Will book two be “Brid’s book”? (What’s the working title, btw?) And/or, what’s the pitch for book two and when can we expect to see it in bookstores and libraries?
LMB: Book Two, tentatively called “Necromancing the Stone” is in editing land. Holt bought book one and two at the same time, which was very optimistic of them since all I had of book two was a vague one page summary that ended with “hilarity ensues.”
Hopefully (fingers crossed) it will be ready for copy editing soon. The second book still sticks pretty close to Sam. You still get the rest of the cast as well as some new or expanded characters. We’re still cutting and rewriting, so I don’t want to say too much only to have it change tomorrow. Right now it’s tentatively scheduled for Spring 2012. Besides meeting my deadlines, the time that the book comes out is kind of out of my hands.
BT: What’s your connection to the music in this novel?
LMB: I love music—all kinds. Right before book one came out I was at BEA (Book Expo of America) and this guy (I never caught his name) looked at me and said, “I just finished flipping through your book, and having now met you, I can’t believe you’re familiar with all this music.” (I’m paraphrasing, but that was the gist of his comment.) I don’t think he meant the statement to be insulting, and I think it was in reference to my (sort of) youth since I was thirty at the time and so was considered to be a young author. The thing is, the comment made me think, “Why, because young people are only allowed to listen to what’s popular right now?” Yes, there are kids out there that are only aware of what’s hot this second and that’s it. But that’s doesn’t mean every kid is like that.
Seattle is a city that loves its music, and my big complicated family brought me all kinds of music to listen to. As a kid I was aware of the music MTV was bringing in (at this time MTV still played music) but I generally listened to my parent’s records and my brother’s tapes and CDs. My taste still reflects that and so does the book.
Sometimes I pick songs that aren’t on my MP3 player because they fit the chapter, but I won’t pick a song that I absolutely hate. The opening song, Dead Man’s Party has always been fascinating to me—the imagery is fantastic and I love the sound of it as well. The songs also reveal my strange fascination with musicals. The idea of people breaking out into song willy-nilly makes me a little happy.
Most of the songs simply just caught my attention over the years. Maybe I liked the sound of a particular line, maybe I was puzzled by something in it, or maybe I just liked the pictures the song put into my head. Either way, the book would make an interesting karaoke play list.
The titles I picked for book two reflect a little more of my love of pop punk, but there’s still a lot of oldies and other random picks in there.
BT: What’s your favorite song?
LMB: This is a terrible question to ask me. I couldn’t pick one song—I couldn’t even pick one band or album. It depends on my mood. I’ve been listening to a lot of Ludo lately, and Alkaline Trio. Also, Paul Simon, Screeching Weasel, They Might Be Giants, Rose’s Pawn Shop, Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies, Flogging Molly…I’ll stop now.
BT: Where can we find you on the internet?
BT: Do you have other projects you’d like to tell us about? Anything you’d like to add?
LMB: I am working on something new, but it’s still in the early phases so I don’t want to talk about it too much. I will say that it’s set in Maine and there’s probably going to be a lot of fire and explosions, which is always good.
Thanks for asking me some different and silly questions, and for talking to me in general. It still amazes me that anyone would want to interview me for anything. Very surreal, this whole business.
I will send you a picture of my very first yard gnome. Someone finally gave me one today. I’m not quite sure what the purpose of a yard gnome is, exactly, besides giving the neighborhood children an idea as to whose house to avoid, but I am very excited nonetheless. All that’s left is to name him and find the creepiest placement for him in our yard…
I feel like this is the beginning of an era. The lawn gnome era.
interview by Erzsi Deàk / photo by Adam Aman