Schoolgirls meet most dreadful deaths in emily m. danforth’s exuberantly queer horror-comedy.
On this week’s episode, sponsored in part by Abrams Books for Young Readers, emily m. danforth discusses new novel Plain Bad Heroines (William Morrow, Oct. 20), the eagerly anticipated follow-up to her award-winning YA debut, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, a lesbian coming-of-age set in the author’s home state of Montana.
The author now makes her home in Rhode Island, where the bulk of Plain Bad Heroines is set. The story goes a little something like this: In 1902, two students at an all-girls boarding school meet a gruesome fate in the campus woods. Found at the scene is a copy of The Story of Mary MacLane a controversial memoir by an infamous author credited with ushering in a new era of confessional writing. (Its original title, I Await the Devil’s Coming, was changed by publishers.) Did MacLane’s queer musings lead to their untimely demise? Is the book in fact cursed?
Fast forward to present day Los Angeles, where a new movie about the two girls, the book, and their boarding school is in the works, starring an it girl from Montana, potentially costarring the actor-daughter of a classic scream queen. The screenplay is based on Truman Capote–style true crime book written by a literary wunderkind.
The perfect companion for Halloween weekend, Plain Bad Heroines is strange, spooky, and just good fun. You don’t have to love horror to enjoy the ride—but, if you do—several early readers say this book may be haunted. A few unexplained occurrences have been chronicled on social media. Caveat lector: Watch out for wasps.
Host Megan Labrise and danforth talk about the actual historical personage of Mary MacLane; the novel’s two timelines; working with illustrator Sara Lautman to enhance the text; why she chooses to write her name in lowercase letters; her abiding love for Truman Capote’s unfinished novel Answered Prayers; seances; and much more.
Then editors Vicky Smith, Laura Simeon, Eric Liebetrau, and Laurie Muchnick join with their reading recommendations for the week.
Addy’s Cup of Sugar, from the Stillwater series by Jon J Muth (Scholastic)
Foreshadow: Stories to Celebrate the Magic of Reading and Writing YA, edited by Emily X.R. Pan and Nova Ren Suma (Algonquin)
The Meaning of Mariah Carey by Mariah Carey with Michaela Angela Davis (Andy Cohen Books/Henry Holt)
The Searcher by Tana French (Viking)
Also mentioned in this episode:
The Sound of Silence by Katrina Goldsaito, illus. by Julia Kuo (Little, Brown)
Mindful Day by Deborah Hopkinson, illus. by Shirley Ng-Benitez (Sounds True)
I Am Peace: A Book of Mindfulness by Susan Verde, illus. by Peter H. Reynolds (Abrams)
Where’s Buddha? by Marisa Aragón Ware (Bala Kids/Shambhala)
The Life of the Buddha by Heather Sanche, illus. by Tara Di Gesu (Bala Kids/Shambhala)
The Sweetest Sound by Sherri Winston (Little, Brown)
The Less Dead by Denise Mina (Mulholland Books/Little, Brown)
Barack Before Obama: Life Before the Presidency by David Katz (Ecco/HarperCollins)
Fully Booked is produced by Cabel Adkins Audio and Megan Labrise.