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#SVYALit: ALL THE RAGE and rape culture, Trish Doller interviews author Courtney Summers

Today the book All the Rage by Courtney Summers is finally released into the world. It’s a great book. It’s an important book. It’s the type of book that encourages dialogue about important and very relevant cultural issues. While Rolling Stone is retracting their UVA rape story and causing many to question the reality of rape culture, many people are being reminded once again that sharing your story about sexual assault does not come without a huge, personal price. I read All the Rage sometime last year and have been waiting a really long time for this day to finally come. Not, however, as long as author Courtney Summers has. But today is that glorious day and I encourage everyone to please go read this book. As part of our ongoing #SVYALit Project, co-host (and author extraordinaire) Trish Doller is interviewing Courtney Summers. Stay tuned until the very end because we are giving away a copy of the book.

About All the Rage:

The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?

 

The #SVYALit Interview

 

Q: Where did the idea for All the Rage come from?
I’ve been working on All the Rage since around the time I was working on Some Girls Are, so–2009, 2010. The plot changed a lot over the years. I spent a long time trying to figure out how I wanted to angle the story but at its core, it was always about rape culture and there were always two girls disappearing on the same night.
Q: I’ve seen you tweet about how long you worked on the book. What took so long? (Note: I’m not asking in a snarky way. Talk us through the process of building this book.)
All the Rage was an extremely difficult book for me to write for a lot of reasons. It’s one of my most ambitious novels and I really pushed myself with it. When approaching a subject like rape culture, it’s very important to be conscious of what you’re bringing to a larger conversation; I took the long way around trying to figure out the plot–I’d think I had it, I’d draft it, and then I’d realize I didn’t have it at all. Each time I started over, I felt like I was failing, which wasn’t the right way to look at it, but the dent in my confidence slowed things down a little. Finally, All the Rage was the first book I sold after my father died–it was just a few months following his passing–and I, naively, didn’t anticipate how much it would affect my writing. I was a different person than I was before he died and it changed my process. I pretty much had to relearn it.
Q: What do you say to someone who says “Stop writing teen rape books, please!”?
No. And I say no because when someone says, “Stop writing teen rape books, please!” what they’re telling me to do is stop talking about rape culture, about the consequences of rape culture, about victim-blaming, about consent, about the ways we fail victims and survivors of sexual violence. I won’t stop talking about that. Silence perpetuates rape culture. Talking about it raises awareness and makes demands on us to to do better. We need to do better.
Q: You’ve talked before about likability and I know I am tired as hell of people who can’t sympathize with my character because she is a bitch/slut/bad daughter. Where do you think this whole notion of unlikeable characters being unworthy of sympathy comes from? What makes society believe only “good” people deserve justice?
When I talk about likability, I’m specifically talking about it as it relates to female characters and how their gender might affect reader perceptions of their likability. (Which is not to say male characters aren’t judged and deemed unworthy of sympathy, as well.) We have so many gender-related expectations of how girls should be–they must always be nice, reserved, non-violent, polite, and on and on–that as soon as a girl starts operating outside of those parameters, we becomes very hard on them. I feel the more a female character challenges those expectations, the higher the chance they will come across as unlikable to people. I think when girls challenge those expectations, we become uncomfortable. When we’re uncomfortable, often our first instinct is to punish and reject the source of that discomfort. Now, the source is really our culture–we need to take a hard look at why we box girls in this way–but not everyone recognizes that or wants to. So our first response is to deny these girls our understanding, or feel less obligated to try to understand them.
Q: I love the idea of Romy using nail polish and lipstick as armor. Was that an early choice or did it germinate as you were writing?
Thank you! I went through so many drafts of All the Rage, it’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly when the lipstick started coming into play. I think it was relatively early on. It germinated as I was writing. As other pieces started falling into place, Romy’s make-up ritual became more and more a direct response to everything happening around her.
Q: I don’t think a book has ever made me so angry with society and the rape culture. Did you deliberately set out to piss people off or was that just the pleasant result?
Thank you so much! As soon as a book is published, reader response is totally out of my hands–but I really do hope when people finish All the Rage, they’re angry about rape culture.
Q: Now that we are all really pissed off, what would you hope your readers do about that anger?
I hope they channel that anger into keeping the conversation about rape culture going, into advocating for victims and survivors, into educating themselves and others.

The Giveaway

Want to read All the Rage? Of course you do! Trish is giving away a HB copy. Just enter the Rafflecopter thingy below by Midnight on Monday, April 20th to be entered. Open to U.S. residents only please. We really want to get this book out into the world so we tried to come up with as many easy ways to enter as possible.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Meet the Authors

About Courtney Summers

Courtney Summers was born in Belleville, Ontario in 1986 and currently resides in a small town not far from there. To date, she has authored five novels. Her first novel, Cracked Up to Be, was published when she was 22 and went on to win the 2009 CYBIL award in YA fiction. Since then, she’s published four more books–Some Girls AreFall for AnythingThis is Not a Test and her newest novel, All the Rage.

About Trish Doller

I was born in Germany, grew up in Ohio, and graduated with a degree in journalism from Ohio State University. Married someone really awesome and moved around with him a bit from Maine to Michigan and back to Ohio. I’ve worked as a radio personality and as a staff writer for my hometown newspaper. I also had a couple of kids along the way who have become two of the most interesting adults I’ve ever met.

These days I live, work, and sail in Florida with a relentlessly optimistic border collie and a pirate.

Trish is the author of Where the Stars Still Shine and Something Like Normal, out now. In June she will be releasing The Devil You Know (which I’ve read and it is a seriously wicked good thriller).

To learn more about The Sexual Violence in YA Lit Project, please visit our index with all the links and book discussions.

Comments

  1. Christine Sarmel says:

    So interested to read this book. Thanks for the reminder that today’s the day!

  2. jpetroroy says:

    I am so happy that this book is out in the world.

  3. Marissa Thompson says:

    I’m very interested to see how this book will circulate at my library (I’m a Youth Librarian). My teens do tend to ask for realistic fiction on serious topics, so I really hope this one gets checked out again and again.

  4. I can’t wait to read this, very important topic that definitely should not be pushed under the rug. I really connected with Courtney’s comments on the way our perception of what a girl “should be” color whether she is seen as likable or not. I recently observed a conversation between some people who did not like the popularity of Frozen because they felt Elsa wasn’t a good role model. I was somewhat shocked that their reasoning was along the lines of “she had a slit in her dress and so much attitude”. I mean the poor woman spent most of her life locked away from all human contact and constantly repressed by those who were supposed to love her unconditionally, but heaven forbid she show the least bit of desire to be confident in herself and her needs. I hope discussions about the hypocrisy of these expectations of female characters keep happening!

  5. I’m glad this book is coming into the world. It’s a good thing when a book pisses people off for the right reasons.

  6. Eileen M. says:

    I have heard nothing but great things about All The Rage. I can’t wait to read it.

  7. This book sounds so, so incredible. And so important. I hate that this happens to anyone, but sadly, it does, and I think this book is one of those books that can be a real game changer. I have heard nothing but praise for it, and I am definitely going to be reading it.

  8. Kaitlyn A. says:

    This sounds like such an intense read! I can’t wait to read this book!

  9. I’ve heard lots of buzz about All the Rage. And I’m just about to start The Devil You Know! Thank you so much for hosting this giveaway. :)

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